Concert Reviews

Jamboree in the Hills 2016 – Day Three


After what had already been an incredible start for my weekend at the 40th Annual Jamboree In The Hills music festival, Saturday would be the biggest of all. The schedule boasted a stacked, ten artist lineup, ranging from 11AM to 11PM.


The day kicked off with the singing of our National Anthem and a balloon releasing ceremony. The music of the day began when local legends, the 11/70 Band took to stage. I hadn’t had a chance to look into these guys beforehand, but I did notice that they didn’t have a website linked from the Jamboree site. The deeper I was able to dive into the history of the band, the more interesting that they became. Not only had they been around for decades, but they also played a major role in another artist’s career who would be performing later in the day.

After the 11/70 Band completed their set, a band named The Stickers would follow up, next. However, I had been invited to visit John Berry on his tour bus, so I didn’t catch a single song from them. No offense to those guys, but it was absolutely worth it! Though Berry had a lot going on as they had arrived to the venue slightly behind schedule, I was able to meet and visit with his lovely wife Robin (who is also John’s backup vocalist) and their son Caelan (John’s drummer). I grew up with John Berry’s music, so it was an absolute honor to not only meet him, but his family as well!


Before John Berry’s set, up and coming, Tara Thompson was introduced to the stage. I was able to listen to some of Tara’s material in the weeks leading up to Jambo, but I was still not quite familiar with her. I have to say, Thompson is going to fit in just fine, or heck, she could even blow past others out there amongst the women of country music! Songs such as “Jail,” “Pregnant At The Prom” and “Vows” are very reminiscent to the attitude of Kacey Musgraves. Definitely keep your eyes and ears of this gal!

Next up, the set that I had been looking forward to the most over Jamboree In The Hills weekend. John Berry was ready to perform and his manager, who I had befriended over the past year, invited me to photograph his set from the stage! I practically had free range! A handful of people approached the front of the stage to get John or Robin’s attention. They had remembered all of these folks from previous shows! How cool is that?! Berry visits a nearby town on a yearly trip to perform his annual Christmas show and has created a bond with the local fans.


As far as Berry’s set goes, he performed a handful of songs from his latest album, What I Love The Most, along with his numerous hits of the 90’s. Mostly known for love songs and ballads, Berry had updated his set list for this particular performance in order to “keep up” with the rowdy, beer drinking crowd that had been in attendance for the weekend. Of course, he couldn’t leave out his #1 single, “Your Love Amazes Me.”


Like Tara Thompson, I had very little knowledge of Brooke Eden’s material before coming into Jamboree In The Hills. Eden did most likely have the flashiest band of the weekend, with mohawks and more of a “punk rock” feel to them. The Palm Beach, Florida native had previously competed in American Idol, placing in the top 65. She hasn’t quite hit a radio stride, but I have no doubt that it’s coming!


The young women of country music continue to dominate Saturday’s set at Jamboree In The Hills when Maddie & Tae made their way to the stage. I was able to photograph the gals from the side stage. They sounded fantastic and I was excited to finally see them perform. From “Sierra” to “Fly,” Maddie and Tae bring a vocal harmony that is hard to find in any genre these days. The girls are still supporting their debut album, but I suspect that their star will continue to rise, much sooner than later. Maddie and Tae closed their set with their first smash single, “Girl In A Country Song.”


Easton Corbin is without question, my favorite “modern” country artist. Why? Perhaps it’s the fact that he doesn’t sound much like other modern stars? Likely. In fact, he often sounds so much like George Strait, that it almost seems as if he’s doing it on purpose! Unfortunately, Corbin was scheduled for what seemed to be a very short 30 minute set, but he sure brought his A game! Not only did he perform his hits, such as “Yup,” his current single, “Are You With Me” and “All Over The Road,” but Corbin included a very cool 90’s country medley based on songs that he listened to during childhood. The three songs included Joe Diffie’s “John Deere Green,” Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” and Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Being a the ultimate 90s country fan that I am, I was obviously in my own little paradise! An Easton Corbin set wouldn’t be complete without wrapping up with his debut single, and maybe the best country hit of the past decade in “A Little More Country Than That.”


Following Easton Corbin’s set was Tyler Farr. Farr has been around for a handful of years and has released two albums. Though “Redneck Crazy” was pretty huge and “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” was a successful radio hit, I can’t say that I have dug very deeply into his catalog. I’ve seen Farr perform previously, but he must’ve have really picked it up a notch because I actually enjoyed his set quite a bit! “Better In Boots” was definitely a crowd pleaser as was the song he kicked off with, the rowdy “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y.” Farr performed for a solid 30 minutes before it was time for the evening’s headliners.


Instruments and speakers had been removed from the jam-packed stage to make way for Jake Owen and his palm trees and tiki bars set. Coming from his aqua and white Volkswagen bus that I had spotted backstage earlier in the day, Owen was sporting bring red pants and his typical shoeless feet. Maybe not all that “country” style wise, but this guy can put on a show! Both sides of the stage had been lined with tiki bars, which in turn were filled by a handful of lucky fans. All of Owen’s hits were there from his early days and “Eight Second Ride” to his current hit, “American Country Love Song.” The lawn was jam packed for Saturday night, as expected, and the 100,000+ fans were absolutely loving everything about Jake’s show. As hot as it was out there, songs like “Beachin'” and “Days Of Gold” made the setting feel just right! Though there only seems to be so many “headline” spots out there these days for summer tours, Jake Owen has got to be on the edge of taking that next step!


It was now time for the main act of the evening to take the stage. Being that Brad Paisley grew up in a small town in West Virginia, practically 30 minutes away from the venue, this was going to be something special. Sure, Paisley has performed at Jamboree In The Hills a handful of times, but this was the 40th Annual event! Having seen Paisley perform just short of 10 times over the past 10 years, I knew that he would have some surprises up his sleeve.

Paisley launched into his set with hits like “Crushin’ It,” “Water” and “The World.” He had four mic stands set up around the stage and let me tell you, he used them all! It was hard to photograph the guy because he couldn’t stand still! Approximately midway into his set, the mood was eased back a bit in order to perform “Whiskey Lullaby,” originally recorded with Alison Krauss (Who may possess the most beautiful voice in all of country and bluegrass). Who could possibly fill that role for the night? Hours after their own set, Maddie and Tae joined Paisley onstage for a duet! I soon learned that the gals have been on tour with Paisley, along with Tyler Farr, which made sense as to why they had stuck around. Not to play favorites, speaking of Farr, he would then join Paisley for a fun rendition of “I’m Still A Guy.”

Oh, the surprises don’t end there! Remember the 11/70 band that I had mentioned earlier? Brad had replaced his band with the 11/70 guys and informed the crowd, (whom many who probably already aware) that he wouldn’t have learned to play guitar if it hadn’t been for these guys! At young age, Paisley would perform with the 11/70 band at bars and other events as he was learning his craft. being a local band, they were constantly around for Brad to learn from. What a cool Jambo moment! Before heading towards the end of his show, Paisley introduced the legendary Gatlin Brothers to the stage. Larry and his brothers would be performing on the stage on Sunday, but had arrived a day early. They performed one of their hit songs, “Houston,” with Paisley, and I must say, they sounded amazing! I had been looking forward to their set on the final day, but I was very excited now that I had gotten a taste!

Paisley closed out the show and the third evening of Jamboree In The Hills with a handful of hits and his signature final song, “Alcohol.” For those of you reading from the Cleveland area, Paisley will be back very soon, playing at Blossom Music Center on September16th, with Maddie & Tae and Tyler Farr. Do NOT miss this show! Trust me, you will not find many acts that are as exciting in live performance than Brad Paisley!

Stay tuned for my recap of the fourth and final day of Jamboree In The Hills ’16, coming soon! Artists featured include: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, John Anderson, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Neal McCoy!

By Arthur Born

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