CMA Fest 2022, Day One: Free Shows You Don’t Want To Miss On Thursday

A collage of a man and a woman

Happy CMA Fest y’all.

With the festival returning for the first time since 2019, everybody here in Nashville is gearing up to do one of two things: Drink their face off listening to country music, or stay the hell away from downtown for the next four days.

If you’re here for CMA Fest, you have a ton of options for live music, and a lot of great artists that you won’t want to miss. (Of course there are quite a few that you’ll probably want to skip too).

There are so many stages and so many performances going on at once that it can get overwhelming when you’re trying to plan out your day.

But never fear – we’re here to help.

For every day of the festival, we’ll pick out a few of our favorite free performances that you won’t want to miss to hopefully help make your CMA Fest experience a little easier.

So for the first day of CMA Fest, here are our picks for free performances that you won’t want to miss:

Triston Marez

Triston is one of the most promising rising artists out of Texas right now. You can catch him at the Maui Jim Reverb Stage right outside of Bridgestone Arena at 11:25 AM.

Lainey Wilson

After watching Triston’s set, make your way down to the Riverfront Stage at the other end of Broadway. You’ll probably make it in time to catch Hardy’s set, but Lainey Wilson’s performance at 12:45 is the one that you won’t want to miss.

Lainey will also be playing at Nissan Stadium on Friday night, but luckily you’ll also have the chance to see her for free today.

Ashland Craft

Ashland is another newcomer that should be on your radar, with her gritty voice and steller songwriting. Her performance on the Chevy Vibes Stage, located at 5th and Demonbreun in Walk of Fame Park, is at 3:30. And if you’re not already familiar with her music, it’s high time you make your way down there to see her in person.

90’s Night at the Wildhorse Saloon

If you’re not heading to the big show at Nissan Stadium, don’t worry because there’s still plenty of free music for you in the evening too. In fact, 90’s Night at the Wildhorse Saloon may be even better than the CMA Fest lineup.

It’s a blast from the past lineup featuring some names that are sure to give you plenty of nostalgia, names like Andy Griggs, Ty Herndon, Jamie O’Neal, Michelle Wright, Billy Dean and Wade Hayes.

Honestly, I’d rather see this show at a small bar than Jason Aldean and Keith Urban in a massive stadium.

So there are some free shows that you won’t want to miss on day one.

If you’re in Nashville, make sure you wear comfy shoes, hydrate, and come back tomorrow for our picks for the best free concerts of day two.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock