Day 3 of the Big Barrel Country Music Festival certainly did not disappoint. Two of new country’s biggest acts followed a bluegrass legend, a hot indie artist and two classic country icons.
Shakey Graves hit the Wildwood Stage in the afternoon with their brand of lo-fi indie country rock. Definitely one of the buzziest bands of the festival (the boys in Kacey Musgraves’ band were in attendance to see them as were the day’s openers, the bluegrass trio The Stray Birds).
Bluegrass legends The Del McCoury Band brought the bluegrass goodness with their fantastic harmonies, fiddles, banjo, a stand-up bass and McCoury’s fine finger picking on an acoustic guitar.
The Wildwood Stage started to fill up shortly after McCoury’s set for the legendary Oak Ridge Boys who played all of their hits which mostly became one big sing-a-long with fans new and old. From “Elvira” to “Bobby Sue” the Boys had the raucous crowd loving every moment it. And wow, I hope to have Joe Bonsall’s energy on stage when I hit his age. He danced, fist-pumped and owned the stage. One of the coolest moments was when Bonsall acknowledged the current state of country music when he talked about his band’s recent admittance into the Country Music Hall of Fame, “Thanks to the new country bands and country fans, country music is the new pop music.” It was an honest, non-cynical moment that showed how appreciative he is for where we are regarding country music.
Closing out the Wildwood Stage on Sunday was Merle Haggard. The man. I wasn’t paying too much attention to anything but the performance, but The Oak Ridge Boys and Dan + Shay were watching on the side of the stage and Shakey Graves were in the crowd too. The Hag was on fire. From “I’ll Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” to “Mama Tried,” to “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” to the epic, “Okie from Muskogee” Haggard had the crowd singing along to every country classic.
Once Merle’s set was over, it was time to hit the main stage for Jake Owen. Owen played all his hits and showed a charming side by bringing up some young kids for a song or two on stage. Owen jokingly acknowledged that he probably should’ve waited for another song to bring up the kids as the next song, “the booty call” song, “Alone with You” wasn’t exactly appropriate. It was a fun and playful set.
Closing out the festival was the amazing Carrie Underwood who played every song you would want to hear her perform including “Blown Away,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Wasted,” ”Undo It,” “Cowboy Cassanova,” “Last Night,” “Before He Cheats,” “All-American Girl,” “Little Toy Guns,” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.” It was definitely one of the festival’s finest performances as her voice soared above the Dover sky.