ARTIST OF THE DAY CRAIG MORGAN HONORS VETERANS

ARTIST OF THE DAY CRAIG MORGAN HONORS VETERANS
Craig Morgan at the CMA Close Up Stage at AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

Craig Morgan at the CMA Close Up Stage at AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

Craig Morgan’s activism on behalf of United States troops is well known and admirable.

Shortly before he came onstage as Artist of the Day at the CMA Close Up Stage in Fan Fair X, an announcement was made that the two front rows were reserved for those with an active military ID and their families.

Joseph Hudak, Editor of Rolling Stone Country, introduced Morgan, who had a cast on his left arm from a recent injury.

Morgan sat down with his guitar, took off his cast and jokingly asked if anyone in attendance was not a Country Music fan. A girl named Bree was the only one. This was the first of many jokes and humorous asides that followed over the next hour.

“This song is a real sexy song. My wife doesn’t really agree but I recorded it anyway. She loves it now because it paid for her house,” Morgan said. He then played “International Harvester,” with everyone in the audience on their feet and singing along.

He followed with his No. 1 hit “What I Love About Sunday” and “This Ain’t Nothin’”

“I love Country Music,” he proclaimed at one point. “I’m not a redneck, a cowboy or a hillbilly, but I am a country boy and I’m proud of the fact that I sing Country Music. It’s what I do. But I like to sing other stuff. We are going to do a song for Bree in just a minute.”

And then, for the one non-Country lover in attendance, he covered Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away,” which he announced he had “made my own.”

After playing “This Ole’ Boy”, he talked about our troops and performed “If Not Me,” which evoked tears from numerous audience members. At the end, the crowd erupted into a three-minute standing ovation.

“Wake Up Lovin’ You” turned into a Beatle-esque crowd singalong with hundreds of “Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na” chants and handclaps to match. And then he offered his current single, “We’ll Come Back Around.”

To close out the performance, Morgan announced that he had just teamed up with the MoonPie brand in support of our troops. More than 250,000 Chocolate Double-Decker MoonPie boxes will feature Morgan’s likenesses, recap his commitment to the military and list a website where consumers can send a “thank you” to American troops serving abroad. He then handed out free MoonPies to the soldiers and their families in the two front rows.

Morgan even took a phone from a woman in the audience and FaceTimed her son, who is in the line of duty. Afterwards he took a picture with everyone in the first two rows holding their boxes of free MoonPies.