What’s it like to be a country singer at CMA Music Festival? Let’s put it this way, you better wear your walking shoes. This year, I had the opportunity to spend one of the festival’s four days with High Valley as they met fans, performed two shows and never ate a meal.
The day began a little before 10am at Nashville’s Music City Center. The process of just getting into the convention center was so laborious — due to road closures and “Hey, you can’t go there” shouts — that I immediately plopped down into a chair in the media lounge.
In walked Brad and Curtis Rempel otherwise known as High Valley with their publicist Heather aka Mom. I had met and interviewed them before and they remembered. That always makes you feel good. We chatted briefly and then we were off to their first of four fan signings for the day.
After walking the length of the Nile, we arrived at the Warner booth, manned by High Valley’s record label. There we stayed for roughly 45 minutes as they shook hands and took pictures with fans who had won the CMA “lottery.” Their spirits were high and they engaged with every fan who approached.
I was so surprised by how they kept their energy up as they conversed — I would’ve stopped talking after the first signing — that I had to ask them about it. Over the course of the day, they signed at the CMA booth, the Chevy booth and at the Opry store at the Wildhorse and they made it through by telling dad jokes. Friends, let me tell you, High Valley are the kings of dad jokes.
“What’s green, grows all over your yard, has blades and has wheels?” Brad asked me. Then in unison they answered, “Grass.” Brad followed up, “I lied about the wheels.”
“That’s our dad’s joke,” Curtis admitted.
In between the signings the Canadians made their way down to the Riverfront stage. Actually, it’s a barge type thing (technical term) that floats on the Cumberland River with a stage facing a vast grassy knoll. Fans even bring their boats up behind it to enjoy the festivities. Riverfront Park was packed when we arrived.
Just after noon, High Valley took the stage to cheers and gasps of recognition. The crowd wasn’t just there to see Brett Young, who’d been playing as we entered the park, and they soon sang along to every line of “Make You Mine.” While the guys hesitate to call fans theirs, it was obvious these people were here to see them.
At 3:30pm they finally ate lunch. Or so they say. I didn’t see it, so I don’t believe it happened. They went over to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville to do an interview with Sirius XM’s Buzz Brainard. I found a bar to plug in my dying iPhone and contemplate whether or not I could live if I chopped off my aching feet.
Shortly before 4pm we reconvened at the Ascend Amphitheater, where Brad and Curtis were going to do multiple interviews before taking the stage there. That’s where we had a chance to finally sit down and reflect on the day. I accused them of purposefully not telling me that my shirt had been inside out all day and of being massive dorks. They admitted to both. Or maybe one of them. It’s neither here nor there.
In short, High Valley are two extremely talented, hardworking and kind musicians. Check out their music below and watch our behind-the-scenes video above.