With three different stages set up to accommodate 14 different artists, the 99.5 WYCD Hoedown was rocking again this year bringing thousands of fans to the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, MI. The music, food and sunny weather kept fans busy from the opening acts beginning at 2 pm until the final headliner was done well past 10 pm.
Michigan natives Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys kicked off the afternoon on the Nashville in the Neighborhood stage with some crowd pleasing tunes and were very energetic moving around the stage. They currently have a single gaining popularity on radio, so tune in and request to hear them.
A quick walk across the large parking lot and into a small café area was the Pine Tap stage set up as the second area for new artists to perform, which kicked off with Michigan’s own Joey Vee. As the afternoon carried on Olivia Lane, Annabelle Road, Tucker Beathard, and Matt Austin all took to the Pine Tap stage to an ever increasing audience. The day continued in much the same back and forth fashion as new artists were scheduled between the two stages and gave me some good old fashioned exercise between each performance.
New group Runaway June, whose current single “Lipstick” is being played regularly on 99.5 WYCD, took the stage around 5 pm and were a delight to watch. The three ladies who comprise the band sing beautifully together and even had some fun interacting with a guy in the crowd who was constantly yelling out how gorgeous they were.
After taking a red eye flight Jordan Rager was ready to perform for his Michigan fans and he never stopped thanking the crowd for their constant support in his career as a new artist.
Regrettably, I missed most of Drew Baldridge and Lindsay Ell’s sets but as passionate and loyal as country music fans are, I heard so many comments about how excited people were to hear them and afterward it was apparent there were many satisfied and happy fans making their way to seats in the main amphitheater for an evening of even bigger names in the genre.
As a fan of country music myself, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a meet and greet with Chris Young. Unfortunately, that meant not being able to see Chris Lane perform for the thousands that had gathered at the main stage. A roar of applause at the end of every song seemed to be a good sign though!
Brandy Clark was next up and her talent will always impress me. Not only did she sing her radio hit “Girl Next Door” but she took time to give meaningful short anecdotes about certain songs before singing them and her vocals are something that everyone should admire.
Chris Young was the last opening act before the headliner took the stage. He doesn’t move around the stage with the energy of other artists, but the way he interacts with the crowd is definitely a highlight and his voice made the crowd melt even more in the already 90-plus degree weather.
Finally it was time for Brad Paisley, the man tasked with headlining the festival. For my first time seeing him live, I was quite impressed with the huge background screen display that changed with every song, the set list that included his biggest hits, and even the lucky fans and folks from the WYCD radio station who had a completely different view being seated at two little bars set up on the stage.
Overall it was solid, successful night for the 99.5 WYCD Hoedown. As someone who doesn’t often give the time of day to summer festivals, I may consider making a return trip to this one next year. If you’re in the southern Michigan area, keep your eyes and ears peeled for details about the 2017 Hoedown….your favorite artists could be next to grace that ticket!