Artists and Fans Celebrate Return of Country Jam | Western Colorado


MACK – Kameron Marlowe took the stage Thursday night after the sun enveloped the Bookcliffs in darkness and the heat from the West Slope gave way to the cool breeze of a sometimes stormy evening, finally ready to capitalize on a 2020 which was, in many ways, a success for him.

Today marks the first anniversary of the 24-year-old singer-songwriter’s recording contract with Columbia Nashville, which is owned by Sony Music Nashville. In November released his first commercial project, “Kameron Marlowe EP”, with singles already released tens of millions of times, like “Giving You Up”, as well as “Burn ‘Em All”, which cracked the top 40 of the charts. US Country at # 36 – and was also released a year ago today.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, he has never had the chance to capitalize on that momentum with live performances throughout the past year.

“It really affected us in the touring aspect, where we couldn’t actually go out and shoot the music that we were releasing,” said Marlowe. “It’s been a really tough year in that regard, but I found some light in the fact that I had plenty of time to write and really focus on the music that we’re going to be releasing over the next couple of months.”

Fast forward to the first night of Country Jam 2021, when thousands of eyes and ears were on him as he performed on the festival’s secondary stage, the Next From Nashville stage, between performances on the main stage of Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs.

“That’s what I live for, man,” said Marlowe. “Just being able to go out here and see the crowds and see people who are just hungry for music, live music and country music. It doesn’t get much better than that.

BACK WITH THE FANS

The coronavirus crippled the festival world until vaccines became widely available this year. After a year-long hiatus, Country Jam, Colorado’s biggest country music festival, is back as loud as ever. Marlowe had never been to the festival and had only been to Colorado once, so he soaked up every moment of his time on stage.

“People look excited,” he said. “The view is absolutely magnificent. I’m just glad to be here, man. After the last long year of not being able to do shows or something, it’s amazing.

This feeling of astonishment at the return of live music was shared by the more than 24,000 country music fans in attendance.

Ryan Davis from Denver made the four-hour trip to the Grand Valley for the event for the first time.

“After the past 16 months of battling COVID, this is like the greatest relief I’ve ever had,” Davis said.

This year’s festival has seen performances by 14 artists so far, including Tanya Tucker, HARDY and veteran superstar Toby Keith on Friday. Today’s roster includes Parker McCollum and Kip Moore before Carrie Underwood gives the festival’s final performance tonight.

SUBSTANTIVE PILGRIMAGE

With so many recognizable artists in one of the country’s most popular genres, Country Jam has drawn music lovers from across the country.

Trice Crawford traveled to western Colorado from Alexandria, Virginia.

“I’ve been locked up in DC for a good chunk of the last one and a half years,” Crawford said. “I’m just happy to take to the air with a lack of negativity and bad attitudes. Glad to have Country Jam back and hear Luke Combs take care of it. I’ve never heard it before, or Toby Keith. It’s gonna be a hell of a time. I’m just happy to be here.

Chase Gran and Bryce Glenn are University of Alabama students who found three days of country music – and the occasional beer, “Roll Tide” and a nod to NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt – on the western slope of Colorado to be an appropriate remedy for a year without such festivities.

“I couldn’t ask for a better setting to come back to festivals than the Ole Country Jam here in Grand Junction, man,” Glenn said. “It’s a… great time and we are blessed to be here. Praise the Lord. … First time at Country Jam, first time with country open, I feel like it’s meant to be.

The return of Country Jam was not only significant in signaling a return to normalcy in the region through the experience of a music festival.

A mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic has vaccinated all festival-goers who wish to be vaccinated. Many businesses in Grand Valley are seeing their sales increase thanks to the influx of visitors from out of town. Vendors like West Coast, a food stand, which depend on public events receive a boon after a year of hardship.

“This is my fourth Country Jam I’ve done,” said West Coast’s Hal Samuelson. “It’s a big, big step towards a good year for us. … It’s incredible.

The Country Jam revival was a resounding success, proving once again that concerts escaped the slump of 2020. On the Western Slope, that proof came with a strong twang.


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