LakeFest is the kick-off for the annual Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison. The festival celebrates the life and spirit of the famous aviatrix, who grew up in Atchison before embarking on her flying career, which carried her to worldwide fame. The festival includes a downtown fair, education and research events, children’s events, the Pioneering Achievement Award presentation and much more, including a fireworks show on the banks of the Missouri River considered to be the best in the Midwest. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors each July.
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As Big & Rich, John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin have exerted a definite “gravitational pull” to the direction modern country music has taken. Their much anticipated new project, “Gravity” provides a stellar example of the genius of their creative brotherhood--the result of two unique musical personalities colliding to form an even greater positive sum total.
From the vantage point of today’s career success, John notes:
“When Kenny and I were first considering doing music together some 15 years ago, I can recall like it was yesterday him saying, ‘Man, we are like two individual planets— wouldn’t it be awesome to collide and smash the universe together,” he recalls. “We definitely felt that creative gravitational pull from the beginning and I think it continues to translate into the music.”
They are America's Technicolor cowboys, brothers-in-arms in service to the creed that great music has no boundaries. Individually, John and Big Kenny are first-rate musicians, songwriters, producers, entertainers—and now the creative force behind their own label imprint, Big & Rich Records. Together, they are one of the most truly original musical forces ever unleashed on a welcoming world.
The new label is fueling even more passion to produce and present their music. “We now have the freedom to write songs, call our own shots and put every ounce of our guts, soul and DNA into music that we have complete creative control over—from creation to release schedule,” notes Kenny. “We can bring the best gunslingers to the shoot out and know everyone is 100% committed to our success. From making the music to getting it out there to our audience, it’s a great place to be. As John says—we’re like wild horses that don’t do good in a stall—we’d rather be running the wild range.”
As witnessed too by their new single, “Look At You,” their influence on their musical universe shows no signs of being eclipsed. “The unusual twist of this lyric really makes the song standout, notes John. “It’s a Shannon Lawson co-write that dead-on nails the gut wrenching feeling of being that guy that loses the hot chick—something I think a lot of us guys can relate to.”
Big & Rich have, of course, made a career of being relatable and musically relevant since exploding into the public consciousness in 2003 as the rarest of breeds—true country music game changers. With 2004’s triple-platinum Horse of a Different Color, they were able to tap into the best strands of a wide spectrum of popular music, filter them through their pens and voices and produce a sound that is instantly recognizable, if not classifiable.
The simple, three-letter name is bold. And that rings true to the art, and the heart, of one of country’s shining new acts.
That boldness is evident in nearly every step she takes. Cam makes it a habit to wear eye-catching yellow every time she goes out in public. The strings and acoustic guitar in her breakout #1 Platinumcertified smash, the Grammy and ACM Awards nominated “Burning House,” are stirringly fragile, a brave counterpoint to the party atmosphere of modern country. And she sings with a dynamic clarity that’s both distinctive and friendly.
Cam backs up that boldness with a firm delivery, embedding her material with a ringing conviction throughout the 11 songs on her Arista Nashville/RCA Records full-length debut, Untamed. Released December 11, 2015, her new album burst onto Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart at #2 and earned 2015’s best first-week album sales by a debut country artist. Whether she’s singing about fresh love, broken hearts or difficult personal crossroads, she’s clearly living the experience for the three or four minutes she’s in it. Actually, she’s re-living the experience, because the emotions in every one of her songs come unapologetically from her singular interaction with the world.
“There’s a lot of work involved in being an artist, and I’m so happy to do it,” she says. “But if I’m going to invest my time in the work part of it, the music just has to be me.”
The “me” that Cam presents to the world is multi-dimensional. She’s powerfully vulnerable in “Burning House,” fierce and defiant in “Runaway Train,” effervescent and carefree in “My Mistake.” And the emotions in the material aren’t the only thing that separates those titles – every song incorporates a different sonic palette. While one might rely on polished pop influences and melody, another yields a piano bar feel, one cleverly infuses a bit of Gregorian chant, and yet another uses steel guitar to create a classic-country mood.
That wide-ranging artistry is key in Cam’s approach. Instead of limiting her choices to make an easily defined product, she’s put faith in the uniqueness of her voice, allowing that to be the defining character of a pliable, adventurous musical persona.
Co-writing each of the songs on Untamed, Cam says, “The cohesive part is me and my voice. The music all stems from the same place, and it allows you to go in different directions with the content and the lyrics and the kind of vibe that’s going on in each song.”
Adventure and uniqueness were practically built in to Cam from the outset. Camaron Marvel Ochs was born in the waterfront Southern California town of Huntington Beach, she spent big chunks of her youth at her grandparents’ horse ranch in Oceanside, where the tractor was red and the barn was blue. Her grandfather was both a cowboy and an entrepreneur – he started his own business, building wooden office desks – and her parents were similarly non-conformist. Her father grew up in a military family and had the guts to move out on his own at age 17, a time when most kids are looking to Dad for a few extra bucks to put gas in the car and see a movie. Her mother had an executive position in construction management at a time when those jobs were reserved almost exclusively for men. In turn, their
independent, self-reliant streak was instilled in Cam, particularly after the family relocated to northern California.
Erik Dylan has a story to tell. It’s one of the qualities that drew Kip Moore, who discovered Dylan at an open mic night in 2011, and has attracted artists including Kip himself, Eric Paslay, Justin Moore, Brent Cobb and even Hinder to record his songs. He writes on Music Row with many of Nashville's hitmakers, but Erik will gladly tell anyone that his happiest moments in songwriting occur at his hero Guy Clark's workshop over black coffee.
It’s not just his country colleagues that own a room with his sounds. The fifth generation Kansan has shared stages with some of the biggest names in music, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Reckless Kelly.
“If I drive ten hours in one direction to play a show and drive ten hours back that night to get to my family, those forty-five minutes on stage have to count,” he says. Heart of a Flatland Boy is a sonic collection five years in the making. The project was produced by Dylan, Randy Montana and Paul Cossette at Quad Studios in Nashville, TN.
Dylan wrote the entire record with a handful of his favorite songwriters including Montana, Driver Williams (Eric Church Band), Douglas Waterman, Westin Davis, Andrew DeRoberts, Jake Mitchell and Adam James.
“This album is 100% organic. No fluff. No BS. I played guitar and tracked vocals live with the band in the studio and I truly love what happened. It's not perfect—and I didn't want it to be perfect. I wanted it to be me," says Dylan.
It’s a show you won’t want to miss. Dylan’s songs will be stuck in your head long after the Saturday speaker buzz fades, with words come Monday morning, are there through the hard times and heavy lifting.
2012 LakeFest Performer
2015 LakeFest Headliners
2008 LakeFest Headliner
2014 LakeFest Performer
2014 LakeFest Performer
2014 LakeFest Headliner
2012 LakeFest Headliner
2008 LakeFest Headliner
2015 Lakefest Artist
2002 LakeFest Headliner
2002 LakeFest Performer
2015 LakeFest Performer