August 2, 2016 Great South Bay Music Festival Day 2 Goes Country 7-15-16 Patchogue, NY
On a hot summer afternoon, the Great South Bay provided a nice steady breeze off of the shore of Patchogue, New York to help ease the heat wave and greet fans on Friday, July 15th, at the tenth annual Great South Bay Music Festival. It would be day two of the four-day celebration of music, food, as well as drink, and what a day it would be. In the past, the Long Island area was not well known for having a large Country music fan base but that has changed quite a bit in recent years. More and more people are feeling the music and enjoying line dancing at local venues, and more Country music bands are emerging from this region. Also gaining popularity with Long Islander’s is local radio station My Country 96.1, which helps promote the scene and host a variety of Country Rock shows at venues in the area year round. That in mind, it comes as no surprise that the festival would dedicate its main stage, on this evening, to local and major recording Country artists.
Not only was the Dream Stage, or main stage, providing quality acts, there were two other stages for fans to catch some more acts playing Rock, Blues, and yes, more Country. The Jambalaya Stage had Bobby Nathan, Frank Latorre, Toby Walker, Kerry Kearney, and Savoy Brown. The Clamshell Bandshell had Cautionary, UnWined, Yankee Rebel, Joe Rock & The All-stars, and Six Gun. With so much to offer, people entered the festival grounds ready to have a good time well into the night.
Shortly after four o’clock, Country Blendz DJ Deuce started mixing the beats. Known by his followers as DJ Deuce, Eric Reilly was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. For nearly two decades, he has been in the DJ business and has shows broadcasted on My Country 96.1, WBLI 106.1, and Party 105.3, as well as many other stations. For this evening, he not only started the music on the main stage, but he kept the music flowing between each act with his infusion of popular Country hits with beats from Rock, Dance, and Hip Hop genres, providing a new Country sound for the new Country generation. His following was evident as he was greeted by many of his fans with a holler and a wave to catch his attention throughout the night.
Following this DJ set, the first to take the stage was well-known Country Rock band the Joe Bayer Band, a local act based right here on Long Island. Joe Bayer himself has been on the music scene for quite some time; originally from Illinois, he found himself moving to Los Angeles where he was in the Hard Rock band Devastation Run. His West Coast career was run short when family matters brought him to New York, but that did not halt his musical aspirations, and in the year 2000 he formed what is now known as the Joe Bayer Band. Since that time, he has won several awards, including 2001 Golden Music Award for New Male Vocalist Of The Year and Single Of The Year, 2010 NYCMA Band Of The Year, and 2015 Country Blast Radio Entertainer Of The Year.
Ready to get things going, the Joe Bayer Band played some his original “Hello Sunshine, Goodbye Rain,” along with well-known covers JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” and Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” In addition, the band rocked out some of their original songs such as “Beyond The Back Roads,” “Girls Gone Rebel,” and a brand new song they are getting ready to go record, “Kissed By Angels.” All in all, their set was very lively and enticed the first group of line dancers that would go strong all evening long.
The next act to take the stage was Texas native JT Hodges. No stranger to the Country music scene, he was literally born and raised in his family’s Fort Worth, Texas recording studio, Buffalo Sound Studios. And if a studio was not enough to expose him to music, both his parents were musicians as well. After graduating from Texas Christian University, he followed some friends out to Los Angeles, California where he tested out the material he was writing in the coffeehouse circuit. Meeting his future wife there, they later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and in 2010, he gained his first record deal helping his music rise on a steady incline since.
Coming out with enthusiasm, Hodges and his band performed a few cover songs including Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” and The Killers’ “All These Things I’ve Done,” while mixing in originals including “Gonna Need A Guitar,” “Already High,” “Locks On Doors,” and a crowd-favorite, “Ray Bans.” The line dancing continued from song to song as the group involved was continuing to grow. Hodges himself was very talkative between songs and had no problem winning the crowd over as they cheered for him when he said, “It’s a pleasure to be here, we hope to be back soon!”
Keeping the night flowing, next to take the stage with enthusiasm were Texas natives Lonestar. Celebrating their twenty-year anniversary on the national scene, they are glad to have been reunited with their original lead singer Richie McDonald in 2011. That being said, the core of Lonestar is the quartet of McDonald (vocals/piano), Dean Sams (keyboards/acoustic guitar/backing vocals), Michael Britt (lead guitar/backing vocals), and Keech Rainwater (drums). A popular cross-over act, Lonestar has achieved ten #1 hits and over ten million album sales so far in their impressive career, with awards including the 1999 ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed” and the 2001 CMA Vocal Group of the Year. Currently touring for their latest release of Never Enders, their fans were eager to hear the new songs along with their favorite classic hits, and Lonestar did not disappoint them.
Performing new songs such as the title-track from their latest release and “I Want A Love,” they also did fan-favorites “I’m Already There,” “What About Now,” “No News,” and the aforementioned “Amazed.” In addition, they played a classic cover song from Marc Cohn, “Walking In Memphis,” and ended their set with an amazing segue of classic songs that were actually not Country, starting with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall,” The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” Styx’s “I’m Sailing Away,” and The Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane.” Fans were not only line dancing, they were all on their feet, singing along and having a great time as Lonestar’s vibrancy and energy was very infectious. McDonald said, “Thank you all for coming out and having a great time with us!” as the band took center stage and bowed to a massive ovation. Those who missed Lonestar, they will be touring through much of the fall and Never Enders is in stores now.
Taking the evening down a more traditional Country road was Alabama native and acclaimed Singer-Songwriter Jamey Johnson. Johnson has been in the mainstream Country scene for a little over ten years after proudly serving eight years in the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Corporal. While other artists have brought more Rock and Rap elements to their music, Johnson has carried on with traditional Country music. He has been nominated for countless awards and has won the 2007 Academy Of Country Music and the Country Music Association awards, both for Song Of The Year for co-writing George Strait’s hit “Give It Away.” In 2009, the ACM and CMA awarded him again for Song Of The Year for his song “In Color” and just a year prior, his album That Lonesome Song went Platinum. So, to say Johnson is an important fixture in the modern Country scene would be an understatement.
As the sun began to set, his band opened up with the music to the hit song “High Cost Of Living,” Thereafter, Johnson soon came out with a stern and serious demeanor, but once the song was over his face opened up with a heartfelt smile. He continued on, playing many of his own recordings such as “Place By The Ocean,” “Mowin’ Down The Roses,” and his smash hit, “In Color,” which his daughter, Kylee Johnson, joined him on stage to sing backup vocals. Moving forward, he treated his fans to the award winning “Give It Away” and honored some of those that came before him by playing covers of Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink,” “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams, along with ,“Hey Good Lookin’” and “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams. Although Johnson has a big strong presence, as well as is very serious at times, he also easily shows his heart throughout his performances and it showed as he ended his set by saying “God bless. Thank you for having us tonight, we love you.” “We love you too,” was shouted back to him from many of his fans who adored the performance. Johnson also continues his touring through the fall months, so it is urged to get out and see him.
All this awesome music kept the line dancers going strong until the sun went down, and when the night set in, they were ready for more. Speaking of more, everyone was ready for the evening’s mainstage headliner, Arkansas native and chart-topping artist, Joe Nichols. On the scene for two decades now, Nichols had a mass of eager followers waiting to hear many of his eight Top 10 singles and his six #1 hits. Having won an Academy of Country Music award for “Top New Male Vocalist,” the CMT award for “Breakthrough Video of the Year” and the prestigious “Horizon Award” from the Country Music Association, Nichols is another important part of Country Rock music. Preparing to release his ninth album sometime in 2016, live performances such as these are great ways to stimulate even more interest in new music.
Determined to put on a great show, Nichols and his band came out on stage to an overwhelming positive reaction, and the singer clearly enjoyed their energy. Playing them their favorites, “The Impossible,” “Gimmie That Girl,” “Sunny and 75,” and “Yeah,” just to name a few, Nichols had a bit of fun with his fans too. At one point in his set, he shared with the audience, “I grew up listening to traditional Country music. Some of the Country artists today are rapping, I just don’t talk that fast! So I thought I would take a Rap song and make it Country.” With a big smile on his face, he then turned to his band and with the crack of the drum they started playing his Country version of Sir-Mix-Alot’s “Baby Got Back.” An interesting song selection, it was a hit with everyone and a bunch of spectators sang along with him. After a few minutes and still smiling, Nichols said, “There you have it, that’s me Rapping for you.”
Still being extremely personable with the audience, as Nichols was about to speak, a female fan screamed out, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” to which Nichols replied, “Not just yet.” He then spoke about some of the musicians he grew up listening to and one that really impacted him was Merle Haggard. With that in mind, he offered his take on two songs by Haggard, “Big City” and “Misery And Gin.” Thereafter, Nichols spoke about his excitement with his newly released single, “Undone,” a track which they played to much positive feedback. After several more songs, including a Tom Petty cover, “Running Down A Dream,” that fan that yelled out earlier, along with just about everyone there, got to hear that #1 hit they were waiting for, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Concluding the night on a high note, concert goers were elated as Nichols said “Thank You,” with some fans screaming “Come back soon!” With a warm, sincere smile, Nichols said he would.
Showered with colorful acts, night two of the Great South Bay Music Festival was high-energy, non-stop fun. The crowd enjoyed the music on all three stages, the awesome food offerings, the best craft beers from Long Island, visiting the many arts vendors and the storybook style summer weather. As many were leaving, they were talking about how excited they were to see what day three’s show would bring, and in less than 24 hours many returning would soon find out.