Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 27, 2002

Winstock 2002 preview, part 2

By Ryan Gueningsman

Winstock 2002 is quickly approaching.

The Kentucky HeadHunters, the Wilkinsons, Junior Brown, and BlackHawk will be among the acts playing Saturday, June 8 at Winstock.

The Kentucky HeadHunters
Saturday, 1 p.m.

In a country music world of award shows, gold albums, and Garth-wannabes, The Kentucky HeadHunters are staying true to their roots, true to their music, and most importantly ­ true to themselves.

The Kentucky HeadHunters, Fred Young on vocals and drums; Anthony Kenney on bass guitar and vocals; Greg Martin on lead guitar and vocals; Doug Phelps on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; and Richard Young on rhythm guitar and vocals, are one band in today's market that stays true to what the business should still be about ­ playing music, playing it good, and playing it loud.

From the late '60s until the late '80s, the HeadHunters toured extensively in the southern and midwestern United States. They decided to make a move up to Nashville in 1989, and the next year released their first album, "Pickin' On Nashville," which won them a Grammy award for Country Album of the year.

That same year, they also were named the Academy of Country Music's Group of the year, and for the next two years, the Country Music Association named them their top country group.

Following several more albums, constant touring, and even a greatest hits album, The Kentucky HeadHunters parted way with their record label, Mercury Records.

Now, the band is right back out there, touring, playing their hits, and working on songs for a second album on their new label, Audium Records.

"All this time, it's been about southern Kentucky and our hometowns," Richard Young said. "We've tried to involve the rest of the world as much as possible. It's kind of like Norman Rockwell. There's a wholesomeness in our music that evokes Americana."

In these recent uncertain times, a little Americana can go a long way.

The Wilkinsons
Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Father Steve Wilkinson, son Tyler, and daughter Amanda make up the country music trio The Wilkinsons.

Originally from Canada, this singing family headed to Nashville to follow a dream of getting in the music business.

Two weeks following their move ­ they had a record deal with a major record label.They quickly released their first single, "26 Cents," which immediately went to number one.

Following a busy few years of touring and recording, their record label closed its doors last summer, leaving The Wilkinsons without a deal.

"If anyone thinks they've 'made it,' they set themselves up for an incredible fall. We really view this as a job," Steve said. "It's the greatest job anyone can have, but it's a job. There is always someplace else you can stretch, something else you can learn."

Stretching their wings once again, The Wilkinsons scored a deal with BNA Records and are working on their first album for the label.

Look for The Wilkinsons to continue making the music they love to make, as well as the Winstock fans loving that music.

Saturday, 3:45 p.m.

The premier powerhouse band of the '90s, BlackHawk has survived the loss of a band member to cancer, a record label change, and an internal struggle of whether to go on, or to call it quits, following the passing of original trio member Van Stephenson.

"We did a lot of soul-searching after Van passed away," lead singer Henry Paul said. "Even though BlackHawk was billed as a trio, we looked at it as a band."

Stepping in to fill that third spot is long-time band member Randy Threet.

"That gave the band a whole new dynamic," said Paul of Threet stepping up. "Our sound, though sonically the same, had a new identity."

"That dynamic has carried over into our stage show as well," keyboardist Dave Robbins said.

When BlackHawk took the Winstock stage for the first time in '97, they stole the night away. Their encore performance in '99 was equally as entertaining. Expect no less from BlackHawk this time around when they hit the Winstock stage.

The third time, much like the first two, is bound to be a charm.

Junior Brown
Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

One of the great guitar players of today, Junior Brown, is heading to Winstock in the midst of his latest album, "Mixed Bag."

Brown is a Texas guitarist who plays his self-patented "guit-steel," which is a combination of the regular six-string guitar as well as a steel guitar.

He grew up on music, as music ­ in some form ­ has always been in his life.

"There was always music of some kind in the house when I was growing up. My dad was a piano player, so I started playing little melodies on the piano before I could talk. I used to hear country music over the radio, Ernest Tubb and others. When we got a TV, I watched his show, and I've always been a big fan of his," Brown said.

Since releasing his first two albums in the early '90s, the four-time Grammy nominee has developed a fan following stretching from the honky tonks of southern Texas, to sold out arenas across the United States, as well as some of the quaintest restaurants and night clubs in the bigger cities.

Brown's mentor, Ernest Tubb, told him one time no matter what he does with his music, to "keep it country." Brown has stayed faithful to that advice ­ just taking it one step further, making his own country music.

"It's just music for everybody," Brown said about his style. Music that Winstock fans will appreciate hearing as well.

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