ABC/Matt BrownThe 2014 CMA Music Festival is now in full swing with Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, Tim McGraw, Alabama and Dierks Bentley entertaining fans at Thursday night’s sold-out show at Nashville’s LP Field.

Luke had a very late night singing karaoke with Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley after the CMT Music Awards Wednesday, but he rallied to turn in a great set at the opening night of the CMA Music Festival concerts Thursday. Though he enjoyed performing for his fans at the big show, Luke regrets he couldn’t do more for his diehard followers.

“It’s been a fun week,” Luke says. “I’m just a little regretful I haven’t been able to do my fan club party, but we’re gonna solve that next year.”

Brantley Gilbert brought Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore onstage to perform their new single, “Small Town Throwdown.” Brantley compares playing the CMA Music Festival to performing in his hometown.

He explains, “You’ve got a bunch of people coming out that you’ve known for a long time and trying to find tickets and time for all of ’em. But it’s a blessing to be here.”

Brantley is signing autographs and hosting his fan club party this weekend. That kind of quality time with fans helps Brantley stay connected to the reason he makes music in the first place.

“You can have a conversation during that and find out, hear people say the things that matter, like ‘This song on this new record helped me through this situation,'” Brantley says. “That makes it all worth the while for me. I’d take that over a check any day of the week.”

He adds, “I don’t require a whole much. I buy motorcycles and guns, other than that I’m happy.”

Dierks Bentley refers to the crowd at CMA Music Festival as the “all-stars of country fans.” He says, “These are the hard-core, the most hard-core fans that have traveled a long ways to get here, spent a lot of money to be here, have been getting sunburned all day to be here.”

In addition to playing a 25-minute set at LP Field Thursday night, Dierks also gave the fans a chance to get an up-close look at his 1994 Chevy truck, also known as “Big White.” It’s on display all weekend long at Fan Fair X at the Music City Center, and Dierks says, “She might draw more fans than I am. So, I’m a little concerned about that, but it’s OK. We’re covering two places at once.”

The 2014 CMA Music Festival continues through Sunday in Nashville. Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Hunter Hayes are among the stars playing the concerts at LP Field this weekend.

Fans who can’t make it to Nashville can catch a lot of the action of the CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock special airing Tuesday, August 5 on ABC.

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