CBS Radio’s Stars And Strings WOWS With Megastar Lineup

On November 9, 2016, CBS Radio’s Stars and Strings made its second annual Veteran’s Day tribute at the Chicago Theatre. The megastar-studded lineup featured 11 acts (Jason Aldean, Big & Rich, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts, Tyler Farr, Kelsea Ballerini, Chase Rice, Dan + Shay, Randy Houser, and unannounced guests Brett Eldredge and Old Dominon) in a stripped-down “writer’s round” format, all in an attempt to honor and show appreciation to our Veterans and the daily sacrifices they make to ensure that our freedom stands protected.

CBS Radio’s Stars and Strings event shines in a category of its own, and each year it provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the attendees. The caliber of talent showcased, mixed with the varying personalities of the artists, plus the celebration and appreciation of our Veterans and their families, made for a night full of continuous laughter and entertainment! Here are a few must-see highlights from the Stars and Strings event.

Pre-show entertainment was handled by the fabulous crew at US99.5, conducting interviews with each of the artists and broadcasting live with radio personalities, Drew Walker and Stylz and Roman, in the Veteran’s Village tent. Catch Brantley Gilbert as he explains why he has such a big heart for our veterans and military service members.

After the “Star Spangled Banner” (sung by Blackhawks National Anthem singer, Jim Cornelison) and some loud cheers from the crowd, the night kicked off with Chase Rice, Dan + Shay, Randy Houser, and Big & Rich sharing the stage. Chase Rice vulnerably shared his personal story about “Cruise” being the song that kept him in Nashville to continue to pursue country music as a career. While performing the game-changing song, he attempted to “rap like Nelly” on the bonus verse that he helped to co-write, and the crowd roared with approval.

To end their time on stage, Big & Rich set the tone for the remainder of the night with a positive message before a captivating performance of “God Bless America” with their stagemates. “At a time when this country’s pretty divided, we can all agree that we can take care of our veterans today. We owe a lot to them.”

The second heat of performers brought the surprise of the night. Unannounced guests, Brett Eldredge and Old Dominion joined Tyler Farr and Kelsea Ballerini on stage, and the chemistry was magical. One perk to this stripped-down format is that it gives the artists the opportunity to interact with each other and entertain us with their personalities in a way that isn’t built into a typical show. Tyler Farr knows that Brett Eldredge is the biggest Cubs fan, so he took the opportunity to tease him with an impromptu song that he titled, “Chicago!”

Speaking of Brett Eldredge’s Chicago Cubs addiction, you might remember that he recently skipped the 50th Annual CMA Awards to attend Game 7 of the World Series, in which his Cubs won. Prior to the game, Brett Eldredge treated fans to his version of “Go, Cubs, Go.” At Stars and Strings, he said, “I want to thank everybody that’s served our country, all their families, and God bless US99, God bless the USA, God bless you all.” As he ended his time on stage with an enthusiastic version of that Cubs anthem.

The night wouldn’t have been complete without highlighting Folds of Honor, an organization that helps to provide educational support to the spouses and children of fallen military. Following that, Rascal Flatts spoke about their gratitude for our military, “Thank you does not begin to cover the amount of gratitude we have for our veterans who put their lives on the line for us to even be able to go out and do things like protest, and they’re able to do that because there are men and women who have shed their blood for THEIR RIGHT to do that in the first place. We are so proud to be Americans.” A “USA, USA, USA” chant broke out in response to that heartfelt and much-needed speech.

As Stars and Strings came to a close, Brantley Gilbert shared that the inspiration to write the No. 1 single “One Hell of an Amen” came when he was overwhelmed with emotion between a friend’s battle with cancer, and the legacy left behind from a friendship with a fallen soldier and his family. “This song is a way of looking at tragic situations and saying of course it’s sad, it’s real. Freedom isn’t free, and this man paid the price for all of us.” He went on to speak of the comfort that can be found after tragedy, and that life and death is all out of our control, but we trust that, “it can only be one thing, and that’s a God thing. This is one hell of an amen, and this goes out to all who have gone out fighting for their lives, or their country.” With his own hat off in respect, Brantley Gilbert closed out the night with “One Hell of an Amen.”

It’s no wonder that Stars and Strings has quickly become one of the most sought-after concert tickets in the Chicago area. Hats off to our Veterans, and bravo to everyone involved in this year’s Stars and Strings!

Author: Tiera Bolt

Mix 1 part momma + 1 part writer + 1 part hairstylist. Add the love of laughter, adventure, and caffeine. Blend well with a passion for country music and hockey. Sprinkle with sass, and that's me.

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