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Post Of The Town: Surprise appearances from Post Malone, Blake Shelton, Gretchen Wilson and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons were among the highlights of CMA Fest’s opening night (6/6) at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium. Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell’s opening remarks praised the artists who play CMA Fest for free so that money can be donated to school music education programs. Reyna Roberts sang the national anthem, followed by a five-song set from Craig Morgan that included his version of Gavin DeGraw's “Soldier,” dedicated to armed service members.

High-energy performances from Jordan Davis, Ashley McBryde and Thomas Rhett followed, the latter telling the crowd it was his 10th CMA Fest, noting, "I feel so unbelievably blessed by the country music fans,” and debuting new song “Gone Country.” McBryde welcomed Wilson to duet on “Redneck Woman,” after which McBryde dropped to her knees in praise of her guest. McBryde also told the crowd, “I’m sticking around all week,” referencing her co-hosting duties (with Jelly Roll) for the upcoming CMA Fest ABC television special (CAT 6/3). Both Davis and Rhett took advantage of stairs that led to a lower portion of the stage to get closer to fans.

A platform stage on the stadium floor featured brief sets from Chapel Hart, Dylan Gossett and crowd favorite Shaboozey, the night’s only artist relegated to just one song. The platform also hosted the evening’s biggest surprise, a two-song set from Post Malone, who sang his current radio single, “I Had Some Help,” before welcoming Shelton for an unreleased song they’ve both teased on social media, “Somebody Pour Me A Drink.”

Show closers Lynyrd Skynyrd welcomed Gibbons for “Call Me The Breeze.” The night’s hosts from radio included Crook & Chase, and iHeartMedia’s Wayne D & Tay Hamilton, and cast members Amy Brown, Morgan Huelsman and Lunchbox from The Bobby Bones Show. Nissan Stadium shows continue tonight (6/7).

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