HJ/EDJune 5, 2006

Winstock preview, part 2: Lynyrd Skynyrd coming to town

By Ryan Gueningsman

For the second year in a row, organizers of Winstock have hit gold with an artist signed to perform on the new Emerging Artists Stage – this year with Little Big Town.

The two-male, two-female group is well on its way to becoming the breakthrough band of the year starting with its hit songs “Boondocks” and “Bring It On Home,” with many more sure to come.

The group is set to take the stage Saturday for two performances at the 13th annual country music festival, which takes place across from the Winsted Municipal Airport at the Winstock grounds.

Southern rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd is scheduled to close down the show Saturday evening with what promises to be a special performance, according to organizers.

Artists appearing Friday were featured last week, and include White Creek, The Law, Shannon Brown, Roy Clark, Phil Vassar, and Lonestar.

This week will profile artists who are scheduled to appear Saturday at Winstock, starting with local favorites White Creek, which will be performing in the beer tent Saturday morning for a pre-show beer tent bash, along with Diamondback, which kicks off the music on the main stage.

Diamondback, 12:45 p.m.

St. Cloud powerhouse band Diamondback will be making its first appearance on the Winstock stage this year, but that does not mean they aren’t already a local favorite.

Having performed at two pre-Winstock events this year, the band has left crowds wanting more each time.

The band plays a wide variety of music that “all ages can enjoy.” Its members are constantly learning new material and incorporating it into their live shows.

The Lost Trailers, 2 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. (EA stage)

Performing 200-plus dates a year the last four years have given Atlanta-based band The Lost Trailers the experience it needs to establish itself in the country music industry.

With an album scheduled for release this summer, and single “Call Me Crazy,” hitting radio soon, country music fans are sure to be hearing more about this band in the very near future.

And in case you’re wondering about the name – the band had its tour trailer stolen three times while performing before getting a record deal.

Jamie O’Neal, 2:50 p.m.

Since her debut album in 2000, Jamie O’Neal has noted a lot of growth – both personally and professionally – in her life.

To start with, she became a mother, giving birth to her daughter, Aliyah, in June 2003.

“Nearly everything changed once I became a mother – the way I felt about life and the way I looked at different things,” O’Neal said. “My writing has definitely changed, so a lot of my songs are geared toward the emotions of being a parent and raising a family and just looking at the world through a parent’s eyes.”

On her latest album, “Brave,” she has found a way to bounce back following a several-month hiatus she took to focus on being a mother. Her first offerings off the album, “Trying To Find Atlantis,” “Somebody’s Hero,” and most recently “I Love My Life,” have all done well for the Australian native.

O’Neal considers herself a “relentless spirit,” saying that even though she is happy now where she is at in her life, she is “always thinking of that next place or the next experience.”

Several experiences she can look back on and be proud of include winning the 2001 Academy of Country Music’s top new female vocalist award, as well as being nominated for three Grammy awards.

Winstock is sure to be a welcoming stop on the road for O’Neal, who will make her first Winstock experience this year. Fans can expect an experience that will not be soon-forgotten.

Charlie Daniels, 4:55 p.m.

He’s country. He’s rock. He’s rebellious. He’s bluegrass. He’s gospel. He’s both southern and western. He doesn’t have a “style” of music, he is simply Charlie Daniels.

Since the 1970s, Daniels has been a fixture on the American music scene. Whether it be his smash hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which garnered awards as the most played song of the year several times and in several genres of music, or “In America,” which has taken on a new life of its own following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Daniels knows how to hit a homerun with his music.

Born in obscurity in rural North Carolina, Daniels became skilled on the guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, and formed a rock band in 1955 – from there, the rest is history.

“When it gets right down to the nitty gritty, I’ve just tried to be who I am,” Daniels said. “I’ve never followed trends or fads. I couldn’t even if I tried. I can’t be them; I can’t be anybody but me.”

See an exclusive interview with Daniels elsewhere in this week’s Herald Journal and online at www.winstockfestival.com.

Little Big Town, 6:10 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. (EA stage)

It is called the band with a dream that won’t die. In its seven-year existence, Little Big Town has been battered by a series of professional and personal setbacks that would have destroyed most bands.

Its four members have stayed strong, and now, fans are embracing their music – beginning with hits “Boondocks” and “Bring It On Home.”

More hits are sure to follow, as this band is just beginning to show all it has to offer.

See an exclusive interview with Karin Fairchild of Little Big Town in this year’s souvenir program at Winstock, or online at www.winstockfestival.com.

Blake Shelton, 7 p.m.

Think back to that hometown bar where you made some of your fondest memories, or that little restaurant where you worked while making your way through high school.

Those places are the type of place Blake Shelton wants to take you back to with his latest album “Blake Shelton’s Barn and Grill.”

“I want this album to create a place,” Shelton said. “I want it to create a bar or an old cafe, and I want (listeners) to go there when they hear it. I want it to be the album you go to when you feel good that day; just relax, kick back, and go on through lots of different emotions, and at the end of it, just have that good feeling.”

Shelton is quickly solidifying his name in the industry, as all three of his songs off “Blake Shelton’s Barn and Grill” – “Some Beach,” “Goodbye Time,” and “Nobody But Me” – have done incredibly well for him.

Shelton said that now he less concerned about radio charts, and more concerned about clearly defining who he is as a country artist.

“Somebody can always find something about me to really like or hate, but let’s keep all that stuff aside and make it about country music, because that’s all it’s about to me.”

Terri Clark, 9:05 p.m.

Some things have changed recently in Terri Clark’s life, including parting ways with her longtime record label, getting married, and releasing a new album last November, “Life Goes On.”

That doesn’t mean she isn’t the same talented singer and songwriter she has always been.

She hit Nashville at age 18, spent years playing dive bars and entering talent competitions before hitting the charts in 1995 with “Better Things to Do,” and has never looked back.

Throughout the years, she has also established a reputation for her “to-the-wall, give-it-all” live performances, as was demonstrated at Winstock 2001 when she jammed on her guitar while laying on her back on the Winstock stage.

She said she loves touring in the Midwest, and said even despite the cold winters, she will “always be here.”

Winstock is excited to welcome back this first class entertainer to Winsted for what is sure to be a show-stopping performance.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, 10:30 p.m.

This year is a big year for Lynyrd Skynyrd; but than again, what year isn’t for this legendary band?

The year 2006 is more special for the band than most – it is finally getting recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an inductee for its southern-rock hits like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Gimmie Three Steps,” and “Free Bird,” among countless others.

Not only being elected to the Hall of Fame for its songs, the band has been a presence on the music scene for more than 30 years. Countless touring and more than 23 million in album sales has to mean something.

Even though there have been some changes in the line-up, the music remains the same, as frontman Johnny Van Zant took over for his late brother, Ronnie Van Zant in the 1980s.

“To carry it on means everything to me,” Johnny Van Zant said. “I attribute the success of the band to the fans – my hat’s off to them.”

“Live shows are really what this band is about,” said Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington. “We love to play live, there’s nothing else like it. We don’t know anything else to do. We got it down now – people are enjoying it, so we’re enjoying doing it for ‘em.”

Odds and ends

• The annual Winstock volunteer meeting will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Winstock grounds.

• Tickets and camping passes for Winstock will be available at the gate; prices are $75 for two-day general admission, and $65 for a weekend camping pass.

• Don’t forget to decorate campsites according to the theme, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

• For more information and any last-minute updates, visit www.winstockfestival.com.

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