Arrive late to Sunday in the Country at your own peril.

Sure, Eric Church is the red-hot headliner whose album "Chief" has reached across country music lines and grabbed all kinds of kudos from big-time rock critics, but don't forget the other performers on the bill -- Thompson Square, David Nail, Justin Moore, Jana Kramer, Craig Campbell -- are country royalty, too. Consider Nail, who is juggling his own intimate tour between dates opening for Church.

"Sometimes I think, 'How bizarre is this road that I travel?' " said Nail, reflecting on his rise through the music ranks. "I am of the mind when I go to New York or L.A. or Chicago or Seattle, I think I may never have an opportunity to be here again, to play here again. You have to go out and fully celebrate and fully experience everything that night is about."

Growing up in Missouri, Nail didn't get opportunities to travel much, but he did journey through decades of music. Nail's childhood was filled with music ranging from Frank Sinatra to Garth Brooks to Glen Campbell and other greats.

Sunday in the Country
Where: Merriweather Post Pavillion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia
When: Doors 1 p.m. Sunday
Info: Sold out, but tickets may be available through resellers; 877-435-9849;

Credit the passion those and other artists wrung out of their music with Nail's emotional songwriting and performances.

Want proof of his prowess?

Consider his latest EP, "1979," named after his birth year. The EP was born in the back of the Grand Ole Opry, where Nail and his band mates recorded stripped down renditions of "The Sound of a Million Dreams," which is the title track of his 2011 album, "Half Mile Hill." The goal was to release the songs on his website. When Nail was asked to choose a cover to round out the project, he chose Adele's "Someone Like You." Little did he know that cover would catch fire.

"I will never forget one morning I got up and saw on Twitter all these people going on and on about the cover I had done," said Nail, who called his manager fearing the song had been released by mistake.

The excitement over the song spurred the digital release, thus giving even more music fans a glimpse into the passion that Nail brings to music.

"From an emotional standpoint, it's very easy because I love the message and I love the lyrics and it's such a powerful melody," said Nail of the Adele cover. "It's just one of those songs that you start and by the end you are so enthralled that you forget there is a crowd in front of you."

It's also easy to bet those crowds before Nail will keep growing.