The surprises continued with an appearance by Lil Nas X for 'Old Town Road.'
CMA Fest is well known for its unpredictable collaborations, and Saturday night (June 8) kicked things up a notch. The surprises continued at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium with an appearance by Lil Nas X for “Old Town Road.” Joined by Billy Ray Cyrus on guitar and Keith Urban on banjo, the rapper easily had the loudest crowd reaction at the festival.
Additional highlights from Night 3 at Nissan Stadium included new music from Miranda Lambert, a Tim McGraw and Luke Combs collaboration, as well as inspiring sets by Dierks Bentley and Brett Young. The official lineup for the evening included a brief set by CMA Kixstart Artists Kassi Ashton, Travis Denning and Jameson Rodgers, as well as additional performances by Cyrus, Young, Pistol Annies, Lambert, Bentley, Combs and McGraw.
Take a look at the biggest surprises from Night 3 at Nissan Stadium below.
Billy Ray Cyrus and Keith Urban join Lil Nas X for “Old Town Road”
Cyrus performed earlier in the evening and when he closed his set sans a collaboration with Lil Nas X, the stadium crowd was visibly disappointed. Chants of “Old Town Road” broke out before the lights came back on and Nas was nowhere to be found. That all changed an hour later when the familiar opening banjo lick to “Old Town Road” was heard on the speakers. The stadium erupted as Lil Nas X appeared, clad in an orange jumpsuit and cowboy hat, while Cyrus and Urban joined in on the monster track. The biggest reaction all festival, country or not, “Old Town Road” was an obvious fan favorite.
Miranda Lambert debuts new song “Locomotive”
Lambert was joined by Pistol Annies bandmates Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe for “Hell On Heels” and “Sugar Daddy” before segueing into a high-intensity solo set where she debuted a rollicking new tune called “Locomotive.” With equal parts country and punk-rock, Lambert prefaced the song saying it’s a track the ladies are going to love.
“It’s good to see you, Nashville. I missed you!” she said. “I think you’re all badasses for standing in the rain for three days for country music, thank you for that. I’ve been working on some new music and I’ve got one that will make you groove a little. It’s the very first time I’ve ever sang it in my whole life.”
Dierks Bentley shares his spotlight with Tenille Townes for “Different for Girls”
An unyielding supporter for women in country music, Bentley invited newcomer Tenille Townes to the stage mid-set and gave the spotlight to her for more than one song. Asking if shew knew any ‘90s country songs, Townes hushed the stadium with a stunning snippet of Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love with the Boy” and later Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.”
“I think the next generation of country music is in good hands,” Bentley said. “It’s different for girls out there, and I think Tenille Townes is leading the next generation of girls at country radio.”
The two then performed Bentley’s previous hit “Different for Girls” before he closed his set with the spirited “Drunk On a Plane.” Earlier in his performance, he dedicated the poignant “I Hold On” to Granger Smith, who lost his three-year-old son this week when he drowned at the family’s home.
Luke Combs cements his headliner status with powerhouse performance
Combs proved himself among festival mainstays McGraw, Bentley and Lambert on Saturday night with his high energy set. Performing back-to-back No. 1 hits “She Got the Best of Me,” “When It Rains It Pours” and “Hurricane,” alongside latest single “Beer Never Broke My Heart” and brand new song “Lovin’ On You,” Combs had the crowd singing along loudly to every track. At ease on the main stage, the singer marveled at how much life has changed for him in the past year ahead of playing “Beautiful Crazy,” a song he penned for his fiancée, Nicole.
“Of all the cool things that we’ve gotten to do, without a doubt the coolest thing that I have done is I got engaged since the last time you saw me,” Combs said. “It’s really cool to get to play a song that I wrote about my fiancée in front of 60,000 people and know that her song is a No. 1 song now. I want to dedicate this one to Nicole, I love you.”
Tim McGraw recruits Luke Combs for “Real Good Man”
While McGraw struggled with sound issues at the beginning of his set, the superstar more than delivered with his catalog of hits. Powering through his performance with fan favorites “Truck Yeah,” “Southern Voice,” “Something Like That” and “Shotgun Rider,” the singer later brought out Combs for concert staple “Real Good Man.”
As the two traded verses, McGraw’s admiration for the newcomer was apparent as he motioned for him to sing the last chorus by himself. Combs belted the final line as McGraw looked on visibly impressed. Then the two men shared a handshake and several chest bumps at the close of the track. “Damn, that boy can sing,” McGraw said as Combs walked off the stage.
CMA Fest 2019 runs through June 9 in Nashville, Tenn.