The Best Music Festival Of The Year.
Actually, let me rephrase that title. I wouldn't be lying if I said it was the best music festival of my life. I have never experienced more fun in a three day festival, or any sort of festival, as I did at Country Summer in Santa Rosa June 3-5, 2016. I have absolutely no complaints about anything. Usually I can pinpoint certain things that I would change or wish would have been different and I can't do that here. It was amazing. And I'm going through withdraw from it.
The two women that run it, Patty and Deb are two of the sweetest women I have ever met. And the absolute sweetest I've met while working with music. Granted, I'm fairly new to the scene and haven't worked with many but I think that once I'm not so green, I'll still say they were two of the sweetest. Deb met us first and made sure we felt right at home right away. Assuring us if we needed anything at all to let her or Patty know and they lived up to that. It wasn't just words coming from them. They felt like old friends by the time we left. And that was something that is amazing to feel. From anyone but especially from two people who are obviously busy and have so much more to worry than us.
Walking into the festival, I'm not sure either of us really had any expectations of what the atmosphere was going to be like. But neither of us had any idea it was going to feel the way that it did. Yes it's a country music festival but for some reason, we didn't expect the vibe of the people there to be as country as it was. And that is not a bad thing. There was cowboy hats and boots everywhere, people just having a great time everywhere you turned around. Beer was being drank like water. Fried food was all over the place. Silverados were lining the grounds. It felt like you just walked right into the biggest party with people you'd known your whole life all hanging out. Sort of like a small town block party with some of the best music you'll ever hear. Not once did I ever feel out of place or awkward. I felt right at home. Which is pretty abnormal for me in a setting with so many people.
And it was so many people, all packed onto this field and all enjoying great music. Which I suppose I should get to now. It was after all, a music festival. Friday, we got there a little late and missed the openers. Chris Janson was on stage when we got there. I'm already a fan of him and his "boat song". Which he kept making jokes about the entire time he was on stage and I loved that. He knows what made him popular and he's not afraid to flaunt it. He didn't get to the boat song until last and he worked that stage every second he was up there. He got the crowd so hyped and ready for what was going to be a great weekend. I will be making a point to go see him whenever I get the chance to. He was great. After Chris was Craig Morgan. Another one who has a few popular songs out. Wake Up Lovin' You is a personal favorite of mine. I didn't many of his other songs, but I didn't care. I still enjoyed every second of it. He was mesmerizing up there. And he's been added to my favorites playlists. He kept the energy up and got everyone pumped for the headliner. And that was Lady Antebellum that night. One of the more popular bands in country music, they were a joy to see. As I knew they would be. It was a great end to a great first day.
The second day was the one I expected to be my favorite. My favorite country singer was on the agenda for that day so I just assumed nothing could top this day for me. We had a late start again so we missed the opener. But I heard some great things about her and I'm sad I missed her. She sings some great songs. We got there for Kristian Bush. He's popular from being half of Sugarland and while it was strange to see him solo, he was so good. I personally liked that he introduced himself by saying "Hey, it's the one guy from Sugarland" Once again, just like Chris the day before, he got the crowd pumped up. All while assuring Sugarland fans that they would be back. And that their temporary solo status doesn't mean the end of the beloved band. After him was my personal favorite. Chase Rice. Now I could write a ten page review on Chase so I'll refrain right now. I've seen him once before. And had never heard him before I saw him live. And haven't stopped listening to him since that concert. So this time I got to see him while knowing every word of every song. I am a huge fan of his. Have I said that already? I think I did. So needless to say, he was perfect. As usual. I don't need to go into that because once I start, I'll never stop. After Chase was the best surprise for me. And his name is Kip Moore. I had heard him on the radio but hadn't paid much attention and hadn't wandered to his artist page on Spotify yet. His artist page is now followed and favored. I went up there to shoot a couple songs of his and I ended up staying in the pit the entire set. I didn't care about the blazing sun. I didn't care about my sunburn. I was completely mesmerized by him and all his music. The set actually seemed really short but it wasn't at all. I just lost track of time. And that's a good thing. He did a great job of getting everyone ready for The Band Perry. Again, one of the most popular bands in country music. Everyone there was excited to see them. As they should have been since that band always delivers such a great live performance.
After day two, I didn't expect that day three could be better. After all, Chase Rice had been in day two and for me, nothing could top that. Or so I thought. I thought wrong. I love when I think wrong in these types of situations. Day three started out with Old Dominion. One of the newer bands that have caught popularity lately. And what an incredible show they put on. They were so good that if they hadn't told us that they were there without their own gear and instruments, I never would have guessed. Every second of every song was just full of energy and an amazingly good time. They got everyone so pumped up for the day. And they got the spirits up high for what was the start of a great day. After them, it was Frankie Ballard. Last year he'd put on quite the show so everyone was excited to see him. This year was no different. Not as crazy of a show this time around but no one's eyes left him the whole time he was on stage. He poured his heart into everything he was singing and he was just a delight to see up on stage. Josh Turner was up next. The vibe I caught on from most people was that they were excited to see him more than anyone else on day three. He's loved by a lot of people and with good reason. He's got a great voice. And sings some great songs and has a huge following. In fact, there were some people sitting near us who had been following him from show to show for a little bit and they were as excited to see him this time as I'm sure they had been the first time they saw him. And I can see why. He delivered an amazing set. Closing out the entire festival was Billy Currington. I was really excited to see him. I'd never had the opportunity before and I was so happy that he booked this festival. Because what a perfect way to close out a perfect weekend. His energy was high. He kept the crowd going like it was the first day. Not the third. No one was tired. No one wanted it to end. Everyone was dancing and singing and having a great time and Billy just kept it all going. Singing his perfect songs to the perfect crowd ending out a perfect weekend.
All in all, I have never been to a better festival. I really have zero complaints and nothing negative to say in my review. I hope I get the opportunity to go again. Over and over. in the time that I've been doing this, I can say for sure that this has been my favorite and nothing will top it for a long time. Until next year. When I'm sure it will top itself.
Words by Faith Nicole
Photos by Kari Hana and Faith Nicole