|Willie Nelson by Jessica Bray|
Father’s Day was a day of celebration of music and family relationships. Just down the road from Kentucky, the Country Throwdown Tour Stop in Knoxville had an abundance of family on and off stage. Headlining the series was legendary performer Willie Nelson. His son Lukas Nelson played his own individual blend of country rock set. But his talent didn’t stop there as he appeared as a guest guitarist on other Throwdown tour artists set list. During Jamey Johnson’s set, his daughter Kylie joined in to sing on “Tulsa Time” and the timeless classic, “In Color.”
There was no shortage of talent with the room full of music. Due to the rain, the venue made the smart decision to place the two stages inside on opposite ends. In turn, fans were able to see all acts, but only got to see a brief set of the Bluebird Cafe artists.
One of the biggest draws on the secondary stage was Brantley Gilbert. The Georgia native has been making a name for himself as a songwriter and now as a performer. Fans were quick to react to his crowd interaction.
Another fellow Georgia native, Brent Cobb, discussed the success of Georgia musicians. “I believe it is due to the fact we have been able to write what people are living in every day life. It is amazing and great to see the success of folks like Jason Aldean, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Zac Brown Band, Blackberry Smoke, and more. I think people are finally taking notice and it is unbelievable to see the talent.” Cobb is one to watch and has caught the eye of Shooter Jennings, who produced his album after a connection with his cousin, Dave Cobb.
Lee Brice and Randy Houser both provided a trip down the backwoods to a honkytonk roadhouse with their sets. Brice would get the crowd singing along with his hit song, “Love Like Crazy” and “Sumter County Saturday Night.” Houser would let his strong vocals soar throughout his rowdy set, including his hit songs “Whistling Dixie,” “Boots On,” and his take of “Simple Man.”
Jamey Johnson eased up on stage waving to the crowd before jamming to “High Cost of Living.” Rolling through traditional country music, Johnson was a man of few words and let the music do the talking. During “Tulsa Time,” Melonie Cannon joined on stage to sing backup. The crowd was stomping and clapping their hands through the rowdy tune, “That Lonesome Song.”
Texas music was in full swing when Willie Nelson took to the stage, opening with “Whiskey River,” and flowing through the years through his hour long set. With a big Texas state flag as the background, it was evident that Texas music was shining.
Country Throwdown is one of the hot summer concert tours to catch. One of the biggest elements is the emphasis on some of the biggest songwriters and the songs they live. The secret to a good song? Erin Enderlin said it best, “Singing about real life and the truth. When a singer writes about a real life experience, it makes the song easier to relate to for the listener.”
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.