6 things not to miss

Country Thunder Arizona finally returns to the Canyon Moon Ranch outside Florence for a four-day weekend starting Thursday, October 14, with headlining sets for Old Dominion, Dustin Lynch, Luke Combs and Eric Church.

Originally scheduled for April 2020, the country music festival has been rescheduled three times due to COVID-19.

Now that it’s almost happened, it’s time to figure out which acts you absolutely must see to feel like you’ve really gotten the most out of the experience – unless you’re more of the type to base the quality on. this experiment on the number of beers that you I pulled in the time it would have taken you to get through this sentence.

Chances are, almost anyone reading this would have made a slightly different list. We all have different qualities that we look for in a live performance.

And given the influx of fans coming from the campgrounds as an artist just before the headliner plays, it’s safe to assume that most people plan to watch the headliner acts.

We have therefore combined them all into one choice, so as not to lose the opportunity to spread the word about other acts to see.

What would you like to know: Here’s your 2021 Country Thunder Arizona Survival Guide

Headliners (of course)

The folks at Country Thunder Arizona clearly know how to program a headlining slot. That’s why the bowl always overflows when the main act hits the stage.

This year is no exception. Eric Church is such a perfect choice to end the weekend on a high because he already has. In 2016, he succeeded.

As we said of Church in our review, “Country Thunder is first and foremost a four-day party. And Church is an artist, who clearly takes his art very seriously. But the combination worked – in part because that his art is so often expressed in in the form of a drinking song, which he has performed several classics, from ‘Cold One’ and ‘Drink in My Hand’ to my favorite, ‘Jack Daniels.’ “

Saturday’s headliner Luke Combs is also a big deal. His first 11 singles topped the Billboard country airplay charts, which means a night of chanting drenched in beloved hit singles like “Hurricane,” “When it rains,” “Beautiful Crazy” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart. “.

As Friday’s headliner, Old Dominion may have a little less massive success than Combs, but alone Sending seven songs to No.1 on Billboard’s country broadcast charts is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Nashville country rockers’ hits include “Break Up With Him”, “Song for Another Time” and “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart”.

And opening night is in perfectly competent hands with Dustin Lynch, who also tops the country broadcast charts with seven songs, including “Where It’s At”, “Small Town Boy” and “Ridin ‘Roads”.

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Michael Hardy was born in Philadelphia, but don’t blame him. It’s the Mississippi one. It’s unlikely that one act at Country Thunder Arizona 2021 will convince you that they’re more shameless country than Hardy. He opens his latest album with a song called “Truck” about how “you can judge a country boy by his truck,” then winds his way through “Boots” and “One Beer” (with Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson) before hitting you hard with a Anthem for the Ages. “Without excuse Country as Hell” not only celebrates “the buck blood on my Sunday clothes”, it praises George Jones after rhyming “my chicken is fried more” with “my dogs live outside”. It’s lifestyle music, but he wears it well. It continues just before Eric Church at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Ashley McBryde

It’s great to see more women in the Country Thunder Arizona roster this time around, including talented Ashley McBryde in a prime time slot – 8 p.m. Saturday. McBryde is a country artist from a country artist, earning rave reviews without much luck on the radio for getting the attention he deserves for her talent.

When she released her second album, “Never Will”, in 2020, Rolling Stone declared her “one of the sharpest truth tellers in the country.” This is evident from the opening verse of the opening track, a grainy portrait of a 15-year-old girl who is “half a mile across the low water bridge and the poverty line.”

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Chris Janson

This guy stole Jake Owen’s Thunder just before headlining in 2016, paying a heartfelt tribute to the recently deceased Merle Haggard after setting the tone with a rowdy, harmonica rendition of “Back in My Drinkin ‘Days’, while he asked if we were ready to see him play the harmonica like Jerry Lee Lewis plays the piano (which he somehow did).

He’s a funny guy who clearly uses this to his advantage in a live performance, where the highlights probably range from a triple platinum single to the fact that “money can’t buy happiness, but it can m ‘buy a boat’ at ‘The Power of Positive Drink.’

It continues at 8 p.m. Friday.

Randy Rogers Group

These touring Texans brought die-hard Randy Rogers fans to the limelight of Country Thunder Arizona in 2017, some wearing shirts and hats that said, “Get your drink right again,” as they sang the words. to fuck near every song. Maybe that’s how these guys managed to get six Top 10 releases on the Billboard Country Charts, although their music is way too country to enjoy the kind of broadcast that could lead to a higher ranking on. a Country Thunder bill. They are all excellent players, with Brady Black’s violin solos often linking directly to Geoffrey Hill’s guitar tracks. And Rogers is a brilliant leader, underestimating all of his punchlines just enough to make them even more effective.

They’re just before Janson on Friday, taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.

chicks with hits

It’s not a big name, but it gets the job done. Terri Clark, Pam Tillis and Suzy Bogguss bring decades of success to the charts.

Clark launched his career in the ’90s with “Better Things to Do”, the first of 10 songs to make the Top 10 on the Billboard country charts, including the # 1 hits “You’re Easy on the Eyes” and “Girls Lie Too.”

Tillis made some breakthroughs in the ’80s, but she really hit her peak in 1990 with “Don’t Tell Me What to Do”, the first of 13 Top 10 entries on Billboard country, including the top “Mi Vida. Loca (My crazy life). “

Bogguss also gained traction in the early ’90s when “Outbound Plane” became his first of six Top 10 country hits, including “Drive South” from 1992, which peaked at No.2.

They are at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Contact the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on twitter @EdMasley.

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