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Every year, country music stars and their fans mingle at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, where the industry's best and brightest share everything from autographs to hugs with their devotees. And, naturally, there's music – as Blake Shelton demonstrates as he sings and strums on Friday night. "There is a crapload of country fans out there," he joked as he took the stage.
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ONE ON ONE
Kellie Pickler chews the fat with a fan while signing autographs Friday. "Country music has the best fans ... we're all one BIG family!" the American Idol alum Tweeted the next day.
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THREE OF HEARTS
Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley make pretty for the camera Thursday. The trio had just won the CMT Music Award for Best Group Video.
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SURFIN' IN NASHVILLE
A recently hitched Jake Owen floats on a cloud of helpful fans after a stage dive Friday. He sang "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" when he regained his feet.
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Carrie Underwood shows her true colors as she headlines the show Friday night. "I came [to the CMA Music Festival] once when I was 14 and got to do all the things that you're doing," the CMT Music Award winner told the crowd. "It's such an honor to take this stage. I just have one question – are there any all-American girls out there?" There were.
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THE OTHER CHEEK
The Band Perry – Kimberly, Reid and Neil – demonstrate their love for even their littlest fans with a pair of big smooches on Thursday during the party they threw for their fan club. "Awesome time with everyone today at our #1 Fan Club Party, amp to those who couldn't make it, welcome to the family...The Fans Perry!!!" the band Tweeted afterward.
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Dierks Bentley croons into the mike as he performs for Saturday's crowd. "Country music has always been the best shrink that 15 bucks can buy," the modest family man once said.
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Luke Bryan, the winner of the CMT Music Award for Male Video of the Year, gives pint-size fans a muscle-powered ride at the GAC, HGTV and DIY Network's Lodge on Saturday. "Whenever we're a part of these big festivals and certainly CMA week, we have a good time hanging with each other, laughing and joking, seeing how everyone is doing," Bryan told the Associated Press while hanging backstage with Lady Antebellum.
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CAN'T HEAR YOU
Jimmy De Martini of the Zac Brown Band encourages the audience to make noise as he and Zac Brown (left) take the stage Thursday night – the Peach State natives played the fiddle-heavy classic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," naturally.
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Apparently, the CMA Music Festival is A-OK with Luke Bryan and Kimberly Perry, who do their best Fonzies outside a press conference on Saturday. The two will cohost ABC's CMA Musical Festival: Country's Night to Rock on Sept. 17. "We have so much fun playing at CMA Music Festival," Bryan said. “The entire town of Nashville turns into one big party."
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POINT OF ORDER
Jason Aldean, winner of the CMT Music Award for Performance of the Year, makes his point onstage Thursday. He told the crowd he'd just wrapped up studio work on his new album.
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Rascal Flatts – Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus – come in close for some harmonizing Saturday. "Man it's gonna be off the hook tonight for us," Rooney Tweeted.
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The Pistol Annies' Miranda Lambert – winner of the CMT Music Award for Female Video of the Year – puts her mike stand where her mouth is – in keeping with the firearm theme – in the middle of her set Thursday. "It's a week of basically the artists saying thank you to the fans for giving us a job all year, for buying our records, for coming to our shows, for buying our T-shirts and supporting us," she said of the event. "This is the only genre and the only town that actually has a week dedicated to the fans, so it's special. It's unique."
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DRINK IN MY HAND
No, not yet another "Red Solo Cup" shout-out here: Eric Church – who sang the hit "Drink in My Hand" – raises a glass during Saturday night's show. "This is my first time ever getting to play LP Field," he told the audience. "That means I want to give you every ounce of what I have, as long as you give me every ounce of what you have, too."
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Old country music hand Alan Jackson, who just released a new album, Thirty Miles West, soaks in the crowd's love Saturday as he belts out a tune at LP Field.
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Country hottie Kip Moore makes personal contact with a fan during his Friday show.
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LITTLE BIG FAREWELL
Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild and Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town – who welcomed summer 2012 with their new song "Pontoon" – take a bow after wowing the audience with their upbeat hit "Boondocks."
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