Chris Stapleton is nominated for Entertainer of the Year at the 50th Annual CMA Awards next month and his first of two sold-out performances at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater on Friday evening proved exactly why.

Whiskey lovers appreciated “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey,” which Stapleton wrote and Gary Allan recorded in 2003 followed by the SteelDrivers re-recording in 2009.

Additional highlights included the title track off his album Traveller as well as a barn burner of a duet between opener Lee Ann Womack and Stapleton, who returned to the stage to perform together a cover of Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” made famous by Waylon Jennings.

As he closed his set and thanked the audience for coming one thing was certain: country music is in very good hands with Chris Stapleton.

Womack, who opened the show playing what she called “Real country music,” impressed with her traditional brand of country on classic songs like “Never Again, Again,” “Don’t Tell Me” and “I’m Going to Hate Myself In the Morning,” which she said is one of her favorite songs she’s ever recorded.

As the evening closed, Nashville country music fans could rest easy knowing artists like Womack and Stapleton continue to keep the tradition alive.

Chris Stapleton