If the first day of Country Fever looked exciting, just wait and see what day two has in store for you. Every one I talked to out at Country Fever, even the artists were a little confused with Brandon Jenkins opening so early. Brandon is rolling along with his 8th studio album, Faster Than a Stone, with ten solid tracks. Did I mention that this man is a Tulsa native? He doesn’t fit the bill for a traditional country music singer, but his lyrics and in your face style of play will be something you never forget. He was actually the only artist who wanted to take a KKNG sticker and shirt. Opening the show with Faster Than A Stone, Brandon Jenkins played all the hits. I almost couldn’t get my interview with Mike McClure done cause we were having too much fun enjoying a beer and listening.
Texas music icon Billy Joe Shaver was the next grace the main stage. With over 20 albums under his belt, Shaver was the most veteran singer at Country Fever. Shaver made some of the older crowd a bit more comfortable. In between interviewing artists and going to press conferences, I was able to catch Shaver sing a few and this songwriter still has it. He played Ride Me Down Easy and Old Junk of Coal and polished off his show with Thunderbird and I Been to Georgia On a Fast Train. Afterward, I scurried back up to my booth for my next press conference.
After a quick set change around 3:45, it was Mike McClure’s turn to take the stage. Now, for most of you who don’t know, Mike McClure is the original front man for The Great Divide, which was the first red dirt artist to get signed to a major label. During our interview he talked of recently getting back from working on Cross Canadian Ragweed’s new album, being completely comfortable where he is musically without The Great Divide, and getting to weed out the crappy gigs and doing gigs he wants to do. When I asked him which he liked better: performing or recording? He wouldn’t budge either way. Although McClure just recorded a new album about eight month’s ago, he is already working on another one.
Arguably one of the busiest men at Country Fever was Jack Ingram. Supporting his newly released single and an upcoming album and with tour dates added daily, Jack Ingram seemed excited for his first official “summer anthem”, Barefoot and Crazy. Ingram was pushing his new album, Big Dreams and High Hopes (due out at the end of August) and his next single Free. I have noticed how negative Texas music fans have been on Jack and Pat Green, calling them sellouts. Jack Ingram responded, saying all the fans deserve to have ownership, but his job as a musician is to get his music out there to as many people as possible. I only got a chance to catch Jack’s last two songs, Where Ever You Are and Love You. It was good seeing the ACMA Best New Vocalist taking time to visit Country Fever.
A little later than expected, around 8:30pm, an already rowdy crowd gathered for my absolute favorite of the weekend: The Randy Rogers Band. Now I don’t know what else could be said about these guys that I have not already said. Except for something I was thrilled to hear: that the first order of business after Country Fever was MAKING A NEW ALBUM (with a projected release of Spring 2010). Now here comes the blurred part of the evening. Randy Rogers Band delivered all the hits just as though they where headlining including Wicked Ways, Somebody Take Me Home, and Down and Out, just to name a few.
Immediately fallowing Randy it was Stoney LaRue’s turn to grace the main stage. As the final act of the night, it would be the hardest act to follow all week, setting the tone for all the acts the rest of the weekend. Stoney got his start in Stillwater in the famed Yellow House, as did so many other acts with Oklahoma ties. Mid way through his set, Stoney let it be known he was used to a different kind of crowd: the crowd that was up in your face and not seated far away cause they couldn’t afford the tickets. So much to the chagrin of security Stoney invited everyone up to the front and made them sit down so not to annoy the big seat spenders. Even tearing down his set a little bit and doing a little bluegrass music, which was the first time I had heard, I was excited.
I have finally recovered from my sunburn and even nearly sank a boat singing Wade Bowen out loud and not paying attention, but that is another story another time. I’m off into the sunset until next week.