Jackson Dean + Callista Clark On the Music City Grand Prix

Now in its second year, the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix returns on Friday (Aug. 5), kicking off a jam-packed weekend of racing, food, super trucks and, of course, music. Over the course of three days, a lineup of country stars will take the stage, beginning with a Friday night performance headlined by Aaron Lewis.

“It’s gonna be cool. I’m excited,” says Jackson Dean, who is also performing as part of Friday night’s lineup, along with Abby Anderson and Deana Carter. A fast-rising up-and-comer in the genre whose single, “Don’t Come Lookin,'” was featured on the Yellowstone soundtrack, Dean has garnered the attention of country fans and artists alike, and Lewis is no exception.

“I was listening to Aaron Lewis when I was in, like, middle school,” Dean explains. “So meeting someone like that, them coming up to you and being like, ‘I get what you’re doing, bro, keep cracking on’ — it’s really awesome.”

Then there’s the experience of playing at the event itself: Dean says that even though he doesn’t necessarily consider himself an IndyCar fan, he can’t wait to be a spectator at this weekend’s racing events.

“I will not say no to a race. I love to watch things go fast. It’s just never been my world,” the singer says with a laugh. “My brain is not built for mechanics. Structurally? Sure, I’m your dude. But two of my best friends are diesel mechanics, so they always [help me out with that stuff.] But I am very excited to watch the cars go fast, and play some music afterwards.”

Callista Clark, who is performing on Sunday night’s bill, echoes both Dean’s enthusiasm and his lack of knowledge about the IndyCar experience.

“I’m a very competitive person, so I love any kind of competition, even if I don’t fully know the rules,” she tells Taste of Country. “I’m excited to watch and be standing around people who can tell me what’s going on.”

Along with Carly Pearce, Midland and Brantley Gilbert, Clark is playing a special Sunday (Aug. 7) event centered around the Grand Ole Opry. The event brings together two very different country-centric worlds: The thrill of IndyCar racing and the beloved traditions of the Opry. Billed as the Grand Ole Prix, the event will bring some of the hallmarks of the Opry’s stage setting — plus its house band — to an outdoor stage in downtown Nashville.

“I love playing the Opry, and this will technically be my ninth time playing the Opry,” Clark continues. “It’s great, because they have the same stage, and put out a little circle stand — it looks like you’re at the Opry, but you’re outside, and it’s at this race. So it’s just really special.”

For single-day tickets to all the action happening in downtown Nashville this weekend, visit the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix’s website.

2022 Country Music Festivals Guide

Enjoy an updated list of country music’s best festivals, across America, Canada, Great Britain and more. This list of 2022 country fests will be updated to reflect postponements, cancelations or lineup adjustments.

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