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Granger Smith.
Granger Smith. Seanna Cronin

Star's intimate show gets CMC festival off to flying start

IT SOLD out in record time and thousands of eager country music fans packed Willowbank yesterday for the first day of the 10th anniversary CMC Rocks festival.

Despite passing showers, the enthusiasm of the bumper crowd impressed visiting musicians.

Festival-goers welcomed Granger Smith with open arms during his intimate show at the camp grounds on Thursday night.

"They were a bit rowdy, in a good way," he told the QT.

"It had been raining outside and there were so many people in the tent. I was shocked they knew all of the words to my songs. I hoped that a few would, but I had no clue most of them would."

Granger Smith performs on the main stage during the first night of the CMC Rocks festival at Willowbank.
Granger Smith performs on the main stage during the first night of the CMC Rocks festival at Willowbank. Seanna Cronin

Despite launching his country music career in Nashville at the age of 19, and with eight studio albums to his name, it's the 37-year-old's first visit to Australia.

"There's no culture shock here at all," he said.

"I've been all through Europe and Asia. Even in Canada and Mexico there's a bit of culture shock.

"It feels very much like home. You drive on the wrong side of the road (laughs), that's the only difference."

Granger also sometimes performs as Earl Dibble Jr, his parody of America's redneck culture. After a successful debut on Thursday night, his comedy alter ego made another appearance on the main stage last night.

"I've had to make this decision many times over the past five years - is Earl coming?," he said.

"I'm wrong sometimes to either not bring him or bring him, but last night I was right. It worked great."

Eric Paslay performs on the first night of CMC Rocks at Willowbank.
Eric Paslay performs on the first night of CMC Rocks at Willowbank. Seanna Cronin


Nashville star Charles Esten was a huge hit at the festival yesterday.

"We love our Australian fans; God bless you," he told the crowd.

After his evening set the actor and musician spent two hours greeting fans who had queued in the rain to meet him.

Fans were full of praise for the actor's dedication:

Charles, or 'Chip' as he's known, will perform again tomorrow night on the second stage at 8.10pm.

Today, Morgan Evans will treat fans to a few of the new songs he's been working on in Nashville for his upcoming album. Fans should also keep their eyes peeled for Travis Collins, who took home three CMC Music Awards on Thursday.

While he's not on the festival bill this year, he plans to catch his mate Craig Campbell's set tonight.

"I've known Craig for about 10 years," he said. "I watched him play a gig on the Honky Tonk Stage in Nashville and I said 'that guy's going to be a hit maker and not even two years later he was on the radio here in Australia."

It will be Craig's first CMC Rocks show in Queensland after playing in the Hunter Valley in 2014.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the fans," Craig said. "I don't get to come here very often."

Grammy winners Little Big Town will close the main stage tonight, with the Dixie Chicks' highly anticipated show to close the festival tomorrow night.



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