There is big news in Nashville, as it has been revealed that Game 6 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup play-off game between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins will kick off with a special performance from country superstar Luke Bryan. Bryan will perform a partially world-wide televised performance from Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge on Broadway in downtown Nashville to kick-off the game in style. The coolest part is that the very special concert broadcast will take place upon the rooftop of the building, where Bryan’s four-song set will be live-streamed as well.
We had a chance to attend a very special NHL press conference with Luke Bryan at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, where Bryan discussed a variety of topics including just how a south Georgia boy managed to fall in love with the sport of hockey. Bryan jokingly said, “Yeah, a south Georgia boy falling in love with hockey! That’s quite a stretch (laughs) especially when you’ve never seen snow on the ground, maybe a puddle in your yard would freeze once a year. It’s been a slowing learning process to go from living in south Georgia and then moving to Nashville and it’s amazing how long it takes to get rid of all your Georgia loyalties to sports, I’m still a big Bulldogs and Falcons fan. However, I will never forget the time I saw my first Predators game and you can never anticipate the speed of the game. It’s the noises and the hitting of the sticks and it just totally hooked me right off the bat.”
Bryan went on to describe learning the in’s and out’s of the game took some time, but “that’s what’s so exciting here in Nashville is that you have fans all across the country pulling for the Predators and learning the game even better in the process.”
Bryan moved to Nasville in the fall of 2001 and he attended his first Predators game sometime in the 2002 season and he says the best way to learn hockey if you’re a southerner is to go get the NHL live video game. He joked that while out on the road they had huge video game battles with NHL live.
Bryan spoke about the city of Nashville and hockey saying, “This town has worked very hard to get to this moment with the owners and the players working very hard and it is so inspiring to see where they’ve started and where they’ve come when you think about a southern team getting this far is such a rarity… it is so amazing watching my boys and their passion for it and they’ll be hooked forever and that’s what’s going on now. Nashville is laying a foundation for all these kids to start wanting to watch at home and that’s exciting for the whole franchise and I believe the whole NHL.”
Bryan went on to describe the fan enthusiasm in Nashville saying that is such an amazing energy that pours forth from every aspect of the city with even furniture stores selling Predators gear. The energy at Bridgestone Area is infectious and he says he attended the game where the Predators cinched the series and there were literally people in tears within his game suite, it was the highly emotional for fans.
When asked what it was like for him to bridge the gap between Nashville’s two biggest events the CMT Awards and CMA Fest and the Stanley Cup Finals with his performance, Bryan comments, “I think it adds to the fun. All the bars and the whole city of Nashville is loving this. First of all it starts with the CMT Awards and then having to scramble and change avenues and with me, I did the CMT Awards and CMA Fest and I went on stage at 12 midnight, then I took my bus to Little Rock and Tulsa last night and then back here, but hey, that’s the life of a touring country music artist. When the call came in that NBC wanted to do this thing I said certainly. I don’t care if I’m worn down and haven’t slept or my voice is half gone, I’m still going to get up there and have fun. I was just honored to be a part of the celebration, to set the tone, vibe and hopefully help the Pred’s pull this one out.”
Bryan talks about the ways in which his career has come full circle with going back and playing at a small honky tonk like Tootsie’s as a way to kick off a huge NHL Stanley Cup play-off game. He says, “Back around the time that I went to my first hockey game here in Nashville, I was still frequenting Broadway quite a bit. I had some friends up there and I got to do some Haggard songs and some Willie and Waylon and Alabama songs up there, so to come full circle and see the way Tootsie’s has gone up through the levels and to look down over Broadway and see how much it has gone and see thousands of people down there and all the energy is amazing. To be at the epicenter of that and trying to fire up the town it’s surreal and it’s a moment I will never forget.”
The performance will begin at 7PM ET and will also be shown live on large video screens situated on Lower Broadway, outside of Bridgestone Arena and inside the arena itself. One of Bryan’s songs will air during the Game 6 broadcast on NBC, Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports; the NHL Network will also air snippets of Bryan’s show during its pre-game coverage.