When Big Loud newcomer Lauren Watkins took her place on the Maui Jim Reverb Stage on Sunday afternoon (June 11), the sun was out and the vibes were set for the Nashville native's debut CMA Fest appearance.
However, after sailing through four songs, Watkins and all the other artists around downtown Nashville were pulled off their respective stages and attendees were told to take shelter as inclement weather descended on Music City. Shortly after, festival organizers announced that the remainder of the daytime programming for CMA Fest 2023 would be cancelled, making for an anti-climactic end for most of this year's festival-goers.
Though it wasn't the CMA Fest debut that anyone would've hoped for, Watkins was able to make the most of her shortened set, starting off strong with a rocking unreleased tune that could be called 'County Line.'
With a neotraditional country sound that transports you to your local smokey dive bar, Watkins kept the drinks pouring, lighting up the Maui Jim Reverb crowd with her slow-burning 'Dark Places' and hoping to make the most of the last day of country music festivities.
Watkins broke out into her breakthrough weeper 'Shirley Temple,' which won over the crowd and saw everyone swaying along as the crowds began rolling in. The rising singer-songwriter was able to perform her southern rock-laced 'Grain of Salt' before suddenly leaving the stage as her band played out the end of the tune.
She quickly reemerged saying, "I've been coming to CMA Fest since I was like 10 years old and I haven't missed a CMA Fest since then... And with that, I have some bad news."
After explaining that lightning was in the area, Watkins bid farewell to the crowd with hopes that she would be able to finish her set soon. But alas, the ever-unpredictable Nashville weather had other plans in mind.
Even if she didn't get to make her full CMA Fest debut this year, we here at Holler were still pretty giddy to see one of our favorite new country chicks, and we look forward to seeing her complete CMA Fest performance in 2024.
Lauren Watkins - Setlist
From her set at the Maui Jim Reverb Stage at CMA Fest 2023 on Sunday, June 11, 2023.
For more on CMA Fest 2023, see below: