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Trace Adkins, Sandra Bullock: Surprises at Nashville Rising

Trace Adkins (l) and Blake Shelton rehearse on Friday, April 16, 2010 for the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo courtesy of the Academy of Country Music.

Trace Adkins (l) and Blake Shelton rehearse on Friday, April 16, 2010 for the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo courtesy of the Academy of Country Music.

From the minute Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announced plans for their multi-artist flood-relief concert Nashville Rising, the event looked like the kind of evening ripe for surprises. And it was.

Even after Brooks & Dunn were forced to cancel because of Ronnie Dunn’s throat problems, a few unannounced stars made their way Tuesday to Music City’s Bridgestone Arena, one of numerous downtown facilities that took in water during the early-May flood. Trace Adkins popped onstage to join Blake Shelton on “Hillbilly Bone,” according to USA Today. And Sandra Bullock — who worked with Tim on the movie The Blind Side — took the spotlight and comically picked out the opening chords from Deep Purple’s classic-rock standard “Smoke On The Water.” Then she got serious.

“They say a community is only as strong as its weakest link,” she told the crowd, according to The Tennessean. “And from where I stand, I see no weak links.”

It was definitely not a weak show in terms of star power. Carrie Underwood kicked things off with a set that included “Undo It” and “How Great Thou Art,” the Associated Press reported. Taylor Swift chipped in “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story,” Martina McBride sang the ultra-appropriate “Anyway,” ZZ Top cranked out “La Grange” and “Tush,” Jason Aldean served up “She’s Country” and “Big Green Tractor,” Faith offered “Piece Of My Heart” and Tim closed the night with “Southern Voice” and “Live Like You Were Dying.”

In all, about 20 acts took part, including Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Amy Grant, Miley Cyrus, Luke Bryan, LeAnn Rimes and Michael W. Smith. Dolly Parton, Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey sent videotaped messages, and a plethora of companies and organizations offered donations.

Flooding at the Bridgestone is documented in the GAC special Brad Paisley Underwater, which re-airs at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday and three more times on Friday. Floods also hit the Wildhorse Saloon, which reopened nearly three weeks ago; the Country Music Hall of Fame, which took water in the theater where new members are typically inducted; and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which sustained a whopping $42 million of damage, according to The Tennessean.

Organizers anticipate Nashville Rising brought in $2 million to $3 million in aid, a drop in the bucket compared to the $2 billion in estimated damages from the disaster.

“These things always seem to happen to people who really can’t afford for it to happen, people that are livin’ paycheck to paycheck and barely gettin’ by,” Tim said recently. “It’s not rocket science, what we do. We’re musicians and we sorta get to goof off for our whole career, so all we can do is put on a show and have all our friends do it.”

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