Dierks, Lainey & Elle laugh backstage, while Darius surprises during CMA Fest 2023


The 50th anniversary of CMA Fest kicked off Thursday night at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, with performances from Luke CombsDan + ShayJordan DavisTyler HubbardCarly PearceJo Dee Messina and more.

Dierks Bentley was also busy working, since he’s hosting this year’s ABC special with Lainey Wilson and Elle King

“I feel really lucky to be hosting with both of ’em…” he told reporters backstage. “I mean, a lot of hosting is just spending time together. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do on TV and out there, but… I just like being around ’em both.”

“They’re both very funny in completely different ways,” he added.

You can check out their chemistry for yourself when the three-hour special airs Wednesday, July 19 on ABC. You can also look forward to seeing Darius Rucker, who was the evening’s surprise guest.

“You know, I’ve been a part of this for many years and going out and doing my little thing and, you know, trying to do something special is great,” the Hootie & the Blowfish front man commented before his performance.

“I love being the surprise. You know, there’s no pressure when you’re the surprise, man!” he laughed. 

The huge concerts continue through Sunday night, with Keith UrbanMiranda LambertCody JohnsonHARDY and more set to take the stage on Friday.

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