My First Countryfest: In Words & Pictures
I made a list and checked it twice the evening before the big day. I couldn't forget any of the essentials: phone charger, a brush, an extra pair of clothes, a sharpie, my inhaler for the moment that Charles Kelley inevitably steals my breath away...ya know, essentials.
The alarm was set for a bright and early morning, Saturday but I was up before it would even have a second to ring. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I was anxious and ready for the day.
Bethany met me for 8am and we headed to the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds. I've got to tell ya, it was a humid, grey morning and we weren't sure what to expect when it came to the weather but we were prepared for anything.
Once we met up with the rest of the staff, it was funny to hear the comments on my shirt of choice. You can take the girl from the pop world and put her on the country station but listen, the pop never leaves. It was my own little joke - though, I do love the Biebs.
Everyone was hustling around getting all of the last minute prep taken care of before the doors would open officially. I had to get ready to get on the air and kick off the live broadcast at 10am. At the time, I thought I'd be on till 1pm and that would be that. Little did I know what was to come.
Matty joined me for parts, including interviews with Charles Kelley, as well as Granger Smith. Charles was super sweet and fun to chat with. It was also sweet to see him post a picture from the bus of him with his 5 month old baby. So cute! We spoke with Granger next and while the interview was great and he signed my "Yee Yee" hat, we could hear some rustlings from those around us. Turns out some severe weather was ready to hit the area and we had to get ready to make evacuation announcements and move the broadcast.
Here's the thing, when I say "move the broadcast" you might think we stayed on the grounds within a building. No. Instead our engineer, Randy moved our system, microphones, wires, all of it to his Subaru. I'm used to coming through the car speakers, I'm not used to broadcasting from inside the car. It was a first for both of us, but honestly, so much fun. Bethany was sitting in the backseat as I cracked the mic for one of the first live breaks from the car and as the mic went hot something else cracked - a big flash of lightening and thunder. Those screams you heard on the air if you were listening were real, I promise you.
I had to keep everyone informed as to when they could come back into the fairgrounds and we would officially start Countryfest, so I had a lot of responsibility. The most fun though with this broadcast was interviewing Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band in the backseat of the Subaru. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
I made the announcement that the gates were back open and the show was getting ready to begin as we moved the live broadcast back to the broadcast stage. I was asked to stay on the air for the rest of our time, which was pretty cool. I kept the party live on the air and got to watch Granger take the stage.
Lee Brice was my final interview and final moments on the air from the show. I asked him about the weather situation and what was the worst show he's ever had to play at. I also picked his brain when it comes to songwriting, as a songwriter myself hoping to get some publishing pointers. He was full of smiles and ready for the fun.
I've got to give the crowd of 9,000+ some credit for hangin' through the storm with us and having such an amazing time. Getting on stage and getting you riled up and pumped for Eli Young Band was pretty awesome and then hanging backstage with Lee Brice was a once in a lifetime kind of moment. I've been to many shows and been in front of hundreds of crowds but being in front of our listeners for our show is an experience you can only truly undersand if you're one of us to know how special it is. Thank you for being a part of my first Countryfest and making it one I'll never forget! Can't wait for Countryfest 2017!