COUNTRY JAM 2015 IN EAU CLAIRE WI REVIEW - PHOTO GALLERY BY MICHAEL MULLENIX
Wisconsin is proving itself to be a nice haven of festivals in the Midwest, fully capable of providing a ton of content for our humble publication. Recently, I found myself in the small town on the Western side of the state called Eau Claire for Country Jam USA 2015. For our first year covering this festival, the lineup was incredible! Headlined by Eric Church, Blake Shelton, and Lady Antebellum, this festival managed to pack in several of today’s top country artist every day such as Locash, Hunter Hayes, Kip Moore, and Gary Allen. With a much different vibe than the other festivals I have covered in this state there was an emphasis on packing in the most of the three days of the festival.
Several great artist on display during this event, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start by talking about Sam Hunt. Since House Party blew up into the biggest “summer party song” earlier this year, Sam Hunt has been a critical heat-seeker for the summer festival run. The hype driving him is well deserved. Hunt has the ability to channel much of that Country vibe with a more New-Age Pop and R&B. Songs like Break Up In A Small In A Town and Make You Miss Me are the kind of hits that would fit seamlessly into a Coachella or Lollapalooza Rock set as well as a Country Festival. In truth it’s the break out hits like Leave The Night On that make this the initial shot of the next cross-over sensation.
Another artists I absolute need to draw attention to was Cassadee Pope; performing in the middle time-slot of the second day, this gorgeous girl was positively electrifying. Pope has a natural sense of stage-presence and the new song I Am Invincible is proof of how bright her post-The Voice career will be.
The genuine surprise for my taste was Hunter Hayes. Whatever I was expecting out of this young Country prodigy were completely shot out of the park by his show on the first night. Energetic and vibrant, Hayes is a rising star in our presence and the inclusion of his new songs 21 and Young And In Love in his setlist are proving what kind of epic effort this next full album will ultimately turn out being. I sincerely hope that we have the chance to cover Hunter Hayes on this site soon.
Our three headliners were simply spectacular. On the first night Lady Antebellum kicked the festivities off into high gear. Still touring on their 2014 release, 747, it was incredible to see how the new song mix shook up the already stellar show. Starting off on two of the clearly strongest songs from this album, Long Stretch Of Love and Bartender added a great punch to familiar hits like Need You Now and American Honey. Headlining the 3rd night was Eric Church, still probably my favorite performance of the summer. Church is an instant classic and easily able to contend with the giants of this genre such as Keith and McGraw. Songs like A Cold One and Talladega are electrifying in a way as invigorating as the best Rock show summer can provide.
Perhaps the stand-out show was Blake Shelton in the first performance since his divorce announcement. At one point during the set Shelton turned to the large projector screen and requested that it switch to a camera feed right next to him that was facing the audience saying “I want ya’ll to see what I’m looking at right now.” After several attempts to get the screen to change, all in vain, Blake Shelton shook his head and rubbed his eyes, defeated he remorse “I tell ya, this just ain’t my week.” The entire crowd let out a unanimous groan, and an unintentional laugh was had. I understand that this unfortunate split will forever color this performance, which in a sense is a shame because it was one of the best shows I’ve seen all summer. Shelton’s range is that perfect Country blend of feel-good sing-alongs to sweet soulful ballads like Mine Would Be You and Who Are You When I’m Not Looking. The only downside from his night at Country Jam 2015 was the truncated set due to an on-coming storm. Fortunately Blake had time to finish one more song, Boys Round Here.
With that in mind, I give you my photo gallery from Country Jam 2015!