Nashville’s annual New Years party will ring in 2022 with its biggest spotlight yet when the five-hour concert special New Years Eve: Nashville Big Bash airs Dec. 31 via CBS Television Network, as well as Paramount +.
The show, which starts at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT, will feature over 50 performances by several of country music’s biggest stars, including Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Cole Swindell and Zac Brown Band – all airing in the heart of downtown Nashville.
Bentley will co-title a free concert at Nashville’s Bicentennial Mall, alongside Hunt and Zac Brown Band. The show will also feature multiple time zones, with Nashville counting down to the east coast at midnight (11:00 p.m. CT) and continuing until midnight Central Standard Time, with fireworks display and dropping musical notes. traditional Nashville.
Robert Deaton, longtime executive producer for the Country Music Association’s television properties, teamed up with artistic director Mary Hilliard Harrington (who represents artists such as Bentley and King) to produce the show in partnership with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
“When I contacted to make talent reservations, a lot of managers and artists were saying the same things,” Deaton said. Billboard. “I spoke to Ronnie Dunn and he said, ‘It’s cool for Nashville and cool for our genre.’ Same thing with Blake Shelton. With a new format and a new show, you don’t know until you start making calls. I found out very quickly that the artists were behind this show.
“We brought the idea collectively to the city, then to CBS and, luckily, Jack Sussman [executive vice president, specials, music, live events & alternative programming, CBS] was on board right away, ”said Harrington Billboard. “It started out as an almost four hour long show, and then we realized how important it was going to be to also show the central time zone’s dropping New Year’s note, which has become such a big moment in Nashville. The network was telling me, “We’ll give you five hours,” so we got down to business. “
While New Years Eve shows from other networks feature lineups of multi-genre artists, The Big Nashville Party focuses only on country music.
“We are targeting this large network audience in the middle of America, [that] loves country music and loves good music, ”says Sussman. “We have some of the greatest artists in country music on our stage that night. Quite frankly, there are some of the greatest artists in music. … People want to watch these people. They want to hear them. We are targeting a different audience than ABC. We are targeting a different audience than NBC. We’re going for pure and average country music lovers who want this on New Years Eve. ”
Sussman predicts that ratings for the inaugural show will be strong. “I know we’re going to have a good night’s sleep. Other people will also have a good night’s sleep; we’re going after a part of the audience that I feel was ignored. We’re going to meet a previously underserved audience on New Years Eve and we’re going to give them the biggest country music party you can imagine throwing in the New Year.
“We expect some 50,000 fans to be in attendance at the Bicentennial, with the Zac Brown Band doing songs like ‘Chicken Fried’, ‘Toes’ and ‘Same Boat,’ says Deaton. “Dierks will work with Breland. We wanted to see several songs from these artists. When we get the show going, we sometimes think to ourselves, “Let’s let Dierks do whatever he wants,” so it feels loose, like you’re at a concert. “
Country music artists won’t be the only ones in the spotlight during the five-hour event. The special will feature Nashville itself, with performances showing from multiple locations including the Skydeck at Nashville’s Assembly Food Hall, and some of the downtown bars owned by artists from Lambert, Bentley and Aldean.
“You start from that massive scene, then you go see Lady A at the Skydeck, then on Broadway with the artists’ bars,” says Harrington. “It’s a huge undertaking to tie all of this together to show the full picture of the whole city. For those 50,000 people at the Bicentennial, you have to keep the music going, whether you’re playing from that stage or another, so that’s part of the logistics, and Robert was like a mad scientist to put it all together. Most of these shows have a stage and they feed off another city, but there is no other show that will do what we will achieve. “
Music fans can look forward to some unique collaborations, with artists mixing things up between current and classic country hits.
“We have a great collaboration with Darius Rucker, Brooks & Dunn and Jason Aldean which is a killer,” Deaton said. “Sam Hunt and Ingrid Andress will be making their new single. We have Chris Janson, Jon Pardi and Riley Green coming out of old Hank [Williams] Junior songs. In addition, Darius works in collaboration with Zac Brown Band. There are some collaborations you might not see anywhere else.
Deaton estimates that two-thirds of the show’s performances will be broadcast live, with one-third pre-recorded. While the five-hour show has a strong musical performance focus, the evening’s co-hosts, radio and TV host Bobby Bones and Entertainment tonightRachel Smith, will also take the time to chat with attendees in Nashville to help capture the festive atmosphere.
Of course, the prospect of an outdoor concert in December also meant that Harrington, Deaton and their team had to consider the potential for bad weather.
“We try to keep the stage at a certain temperature so that the instruments stay tuned,” says Deaton. “We have a heated stage, although we’ve had an artist request before – he doesn’t care about the temperature, he doesn’t want the radiators on. He will, no matter how cold it is. We also have a heated off stage tent where we keep all the instruments, which is the same temperature as the main stage to help keep all instruments in tune.
Asked about the long-term plans for the show, Sussman said, “We’ll see how it goes. Nothing would make me happier to make this year an annual event with Nashville and the CBS Television Network.
Sussman added, “The audience for CBS is the big tent. We are running after everyone. We want everyone from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and everyone in between. And if you watch this music that we put on stage that night, it’s played for everyone across the country and everywhere in between. We don’t call it The Big Nashville Party for nothing.”