Country Jam 2012 is over in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
It was another enjoyable event. I was only able to make it to the Saturday show this year so I won’t be able to comment on the first two days. From what I heard at the shows on Saturday it was a great evening of music on Friday when Montgomery Gentry brought the house down. Those guys have been out there a long time and they’re still bringing it as headliners. Even with a new label they’re making noise and entertaining the crowds.
It would have been interesting to be there on Thursday for the Chris Young performance and I would have also liked to have been there for the early show on Friday to see the newcomer Thomas Rhett up on stage. The early shows are always interesting. It’s a cool dynamic to see the new artists try to capture the attention of the audience.
That’s just what Jana Kramer did on Saturday afternoon.
The surprise of the day was Jana Kramer. You’ll know her from her current top ten hit Why Ya Wanna. The song is becoming a huge debut for a new artist. I’ve listened to Jana’s entire debut album a few times. The songs are really good. I knew the show would be interesting, but I didn’t think she would do as well as she did. Maybe I should have given her more credit.
Jana captured the attention of the crowd at 2:00 PM on a day when the temps soared into the mid-90s. The crowd is usually just recovering from the previous day, but people sat down in their chairs in that heat and paid attention to Jana.
My girlfriend said multiple times that Jana was her favorite act of the day. It was definitely a great show. Jana commands the stage. Her acting experience seemed to make her confidence up there on the stage. She wasn’t afraid to chat with the crowd and she wasn’t afraid to act like she was headlining the entire festival.
I think we’re looking at a future country superstar.
Favorite Song Live: One of the Boys
Quirky Jerrod Niemann was the 3:00 PM show on Saturday. This is another interesting time slot. The people are just rolling into the festival. Some folks don’t even show up until dinner time, but there was a fairly good sized crowd watching Jerrod.
People waited the entire hour for Lover, Lover, but they were all treated to a really entertaining country show. Jerrod brought along his three new horn players. It added a really great dynamic to the show.
Jerrod doesn’t come off as your typical country guy. His songs are a bit on the quirky side. Maybe even a little on the weird song. He loves singing about beer and drinking. The songs and the performance were memorable and I guess that’s what these guys are trying to do.
Something about Jerrod tells me he won’t be a huge superstar because he’s a little too weird, but he’s definitely talented and seems poised to have a long career in country music.
Favorite Song Live: Shinin’ On Me
I’m a Justin Moore fan. I told my girlfriend that we had actually seen him perform in the past. It was in the fall of 2009 when Justin sang the national anthem at the Green Bay Packers game in Lambeau Field. It’s interesting to think back on how long Justin has been around. His first two records have yielded two number one hits to go along with some other hit songs.
Justin has a chip on his shoulder. He was told that he was too country. When you listen to him there is no doubt he comes from a redneck background. His twang is loud and he’s proud of it. There is even a song about his twang.
Justin is a throwback country artist. He’s proud of his country. He loves his family. There is a genuine appeal to Justin and it will be interesting to see what he does on this next album because I feel he’s at a crossroads. He could continue turning out a few hits and eventually have a nice career or he could take things to an entirely new level on the next record with something special.
Let’s see what he does next.
Favorite Song Live: My Kind of Woman
Speaking of breakout third albums…let’s discuss Luke Bryan.
I think fans were more excited to see Luke Bryan than they were for Jason Aldean. It was close at least. People went nuts when Luke was up on stage. There were signs in the crowd. The women were going nuts every time he danced away up on the stage.
Luke and Jason both talked about having a great time out on tour. They’ve both from Georgia and seem to be great friends. It’s been interesting to see them rise to the top of the charts together over the last 5-7 years.
Luke came out on stage and from his first note it seemed like he might be sick. His voice was good, but there was a definite issue with a few things. It was probably not noticeable to most folks and I’m sure most didn’t care. Luke put on a great show. He’s a very entertaining guy and it’s hard not to like him because his personality beams all the way from the stage to the back of the crowd.
There was mention by Jason that he and Luke were out partying hard the night before. Maybe that was where the issue of the voice came from with Luke, but we won’t hold that against him.
Luke rolled through his hits. He started out with Rain Is A Good Thing. That song is great. It reminds me of the old Dennis Linde songs from the ’90s and ’00s. The track got the crowd into it, but Luke’s biggest hits have been his romantic ballads and people (well…mostly the women) went nuts every time he said “boom boom”.
There was also a whole lotta shaking going on when he ripped into Country Girl (Shake It For Me). It’s easy to see how big of a hit that’s been when you see all the women in a huge field shaking their rear ends.
Favorite Song Live: Drinkin’ Beer and Wastin’ Bullets
The big draw of the week was Jason Aldean. I was pretty fired up to see Aldean again. We saw him at Jam in 2010 and it was a great show. I was a little disappointed because at that time he played the show and then the following Tuesday he released the single My Kinda Party. We weren’t able to hear him sing it, but he made up for it this time around.
The entire My Kinda Party album was great. It’s probably in my top three favorite country albums of all time. There are honestly five more singles on that record to go along with the five that were released. It will be difficult to follow that up and Jason seems to admit as much. He played two new songs. He just released the new single Take A Little Ride. The song is good. I’m sure it will be a hit. It’s just not up to the standard of My Kinda Party just yet.
Another new song Wheels Rollin’ was alright. Jason ended the show with that track. It seemed to have more meaning to Jason and his crew than it did to the fans in the crowd.
Jason put on a good show. There were two issues I had with the show and they weren’t even really issues.
The first is that Jason started out the show with Johnny Cash. The song is good, but it’s not great. I thought it left for a little lacking in the early part of the show. When you have a song like My Kinda Party you come out with it right away to get people in the mood. Jason played it way at the end of the show and people really got into it.
The other strange part was having a recording of Kelly Clarkson. She must have recorded a basic video prior to Aldean’s tour. They played the video and Jason sang his part. I thought it was weird. It would have been fine if Jason sang the song on his own or maybe bring out a female background singer to do the part. I don’t know. It was just kind of weird.
Favorite Song Live: My Kinda Party
Quick Note on Annoyance
I have to mention this because it really annoyed me.
We were on our way out of the fairgrounds and we could not take even one step without stepping on all kinds of trash. I don’t want to get up on my high horse because I’m certainly not perfect, but how can people just throw their trash on the ground?
Do they not realize that other people have to pick it up?
I don’t know what it is but doing things that takes time away from others makes me uneasy. There were plenty of trash cans around, but people would eat their fair food and drink their sodas and beers and just toss the junk right on the ground by their chairs.
It was really sad.