Suzanne Eardley and Bev Blakley are dedicated fans of American country music. They proved it Friday by traveling nearly 9,000 miles and through several time zones for the Academy of Country Music’s Party for a Cause concert at Globe Life Park, the opening salvo in the ACM’s awards weekend in North Texas.
Eardley and Blakley, along with two other friends, made the trek from Melbourne, Australia. They count themselves as fans of many of the performers including Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire, and Aussie Keith Urban. “We don’t get a lot of big shows like this [in Melbourne],” Blakley said.
They were among the thousands who thronged the baseball park’s North Lawn for such lesser-known acts as Eric Palsay and Cam in the afternoon, before such big-name performers as Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker were set to perform inside the venue for an evening of superstar duets.
With two stages set up, down time was kept to a minimum between performances. The acts spanned a range of contemporary country, from the arena-rock style of Dan + Shay (who covered Def Leppard’s rock classic Pour Some Sugar on Me) to the more rootsy rhythms of Mo Pitney (who covered Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me).
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Those who wanted to take a break from the music could wait in the long food lines or spend some time with vendors selling items ranging from Resistol hats and Rock & Load clothing to Old Gringo boots arrayed around the lawn or on the first level of the stadium. Despite the crowds, business wasn’t yet brisk for everyone. “It’s early,” said Becky Arrants, owner of Tennessee’s Bullet Splat Jewelry. “People don’t want to carry a lot of stuff around.”
Fans could prove they were at the event by signing their name and leaving a message in chalk on a giant outdoor blackboard. The declarations ranged from the geographic (“Ally from Cali”) and the fan-inspired (“Jason Aldean Is Country”) to a simple declaration of one’s existence (“Sony Red was here.”)
Lisa Tremblay, who flew in from Chicago, summed up what many probably were feeling. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said of why she came down.
Her friend, Ginger Rugland of Euless, would like to see the ACM awards bash — which originated in Southern California and had been in Las Vegas in recent years — in North Texas more often. “I wish they would move it here,” she said.
But there was one thing that bothered her. Most of the acts, in their onstage exhortations, kept referencing the Big D, as when Dan + Shay yelled, “Any country music fans in Dallas today?”
Said Rugland, “This isn’t Dallas.”
Party for a Cause benefits ACM Lifting Lives, the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music, and military philanthropies including Folds of Honor Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, Navy SEAL Foundation, and Task Force Dagger Foundation.
Cary Darling, 817 390-7571
Party for a Cause
The second day of the Party for a Cause festival begins at noon Saturday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
For more information, visit acmcountry.com.