Bay City Country Music Festival

Bay City, Michigan (June 22-23, 2018) – The 1st Annual Bay City Country Music Festival kicks off successfully as a new annual event for all country music fans in the Bay Area.

Located on the eastern banks of the Saginaw River in downtown Bay City, Michigan, Wenonah Park plays host location for the two-day country music festival. With a permanent acoustic stage already in place, the park becomes an automatic choice for a festival surrounded by nature’s beauty located in the city.

As the gates open on day one, Mandi Layne & The Lost Highway takes the stage as the opening act. Mandi is joined on stage with Greg Kevorkian on guitar and vocals; David Banks on bass guitar and keys; Brian Coonan on lead guitar while Mark Routt keeps the beat on the drums. The band is from Flint, MI and been entertaining crowds since 2007.

Mandi gets the crowd pumped with a country mix as she sets the pace with a few originals “Hot Mess” and “Summer Song.” Her short set concludes showing off her rebel side with a need for rock with her version of Guns N’ Roses cover of “Sweet Child Of Mine.”

Next to take the stage is Kari Holmes from Lansing, MI. Kari excites the crowd with more of a traditional country sound with hits like “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” where she starts the song by a cappella and then jumps down into the crowd during her Shania Twain cover of “I Feel Like A Woman.” Kari adds a few originals to her time on stage with “Loves Gonna Live On With You,” her debut single “Something New” along with the song she is taking to the studio in two days “Devil, Devil.”

Kari is joined by her band, Kerry Adams on guitar and vocals; William Shadrick on guitar and mandolin; and Pete Johnson on bass guitar.

The Todd Michael Band is next on stage. Todd and his band come out with a fury of country rock hits that get the crowd up on their feet and dancing. With new country sounds of Luke Combs “When It Rains It Pours” and Brothers Osborne “It Ain’t My Fault” they attract the new young crowds while hit songs by Don Williams “Tulsa Time” keep the older crowd enticed also. Including his soon to be released debut single “Amnesia,” he for sure makes people sit up and pay attention to him. Todd adds his favorite song “All My Friends Say” by Luke Bryan while blending in a snippet of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” for his rowdy crowd. Announcing that he will be opening for Brett Young later in the year, Todd also performs “Sleep Without You.”

With a who’s who of a cast of musicians behind him, Todd is welcomed on stage by Robert Amatangelo on bass guitar and vocals; Joey Amatangelo on drums; Pete Kane on guitar and Randy Hagle on guitar. The Todd Michael Band formed in 2017 in Saginaw, MI and is already turning promoters heads as they continue to open shows for national touring artists.

Kin Faux is another up and coming band from the Bay Area that came together in 2017. Introducing the new Michigan crowds with a taste of the Texas country sound has sent Kin Faux up the regional talent ladder as their crowd followings continue to grow. As they head into the studio at the beginning of the week, Kin Faux performs a few of their own originals “Plainview” “Water On The Stone” and a crowd favorite, train song “Dysfunction Junction.” Also included in the set are “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton and the foot-stompin’ hand clapping song “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band.

Kin Faux is made up of Rico Gonzalez on fiddle, keys, guitar, and vocals; RB Suave on bass and vocals; Jakey Black IX on guitar and vocals with Dan Currier on drums.

As the first evening of the festival is winding down, Thompson Square appears on stage as the headliner for night one. Opening with “Trans Am” the crowd quickly mobs the front of the stage to welcome Keifer and Shawna Thompson to the Bay City stage.

Continuing on with a fun paced performance, Thompson Square adds “Millionaires” and “Stuck In My Head” before their 2013 hit single “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking Of About.” As the song ends the crowd is split down the middle for a cheering competition with one half as Keifer’s Party People and the other half being Shawna’s Sexy People.

After taking a five year hiatus from the industry to refresh themselves and have a child, Thompson Square returns in 2018 to continue on the magical musical journey they originally embarked on. In 2018, they reappear with a new album Masterpiece to share.

As the day has been overcast and a threat of rain in the area all day, as Shauna steps out to the edge of the stage to introduce the new song “Make It Rain” the sky opens up and a downpour ensues. As she and Keifer look at each other and begin to laugh, Keifer shouts out “a little rain never hurt anyone and I am certainly not going to melt.”

Known as the romantic musical duo, Keifer and Shawna show they truly love one another in their number one hit single “If I didn’t Have You” when they come together at center stage and end the song with a loving kiss.

Introducing a new song “Love Like This,” Keifer talks about the duo being together for 19 years and having their son Cooper who is now 2. Not realizing how love could feel and everything he is fortunate for, he wrote this song to express how he feels because of it.

The new album Masterpiece is a collection songs written since becoming a family and the joys and feelings. The title track is a song written about Cooper and how he has affected how Keifer looks at the world since his birth.

As Thompson Square returns for an encore for their screaming and chanting fans, they include “I Got You” before jumping into a rock mix that includes “Living On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. Thompson Square closes out night one with their first #1 single “Are You Going To Kiss Me Or Not.”

Day Two

Day two continues with the same threat of rain as opening day did, however, that does not scare the country music fans away as they are seen lined up both directions from the entrance and ready for the gates to open.

As the crowds are entering, the Matt Ryan Band takes the stage to get the show started. Matt starts with a Brantley Gilbert cover “Bottoms Up” before announcing that after eight and a half years of playing together, this is the band’s Bay City farewell performance. “Windows Down” is a song that has never been recorded but would still like to as Matt looks back at his guitar player Randy Badour and asks if they can still record it later. Matt also includes a song “I’m Here” that was his first attempt at songwriting 10 years ago that gets the crowd standing and showing their appreciation for the past years.

The Matt Ryan band consists of Matt Ryan on vocals and guitar; Randy Badour on guitar and harmony; Gary Carson on lead guitar; Derrick Fisher on bass guitar and Matthew Kramer on drums.

One of the latest new kids on the block and multi-genre’d is next in Tweed & Dixie from Flint, MI. Since 2015, Barry Forster on guitar; Rick Maida on bass guitar and Justin Clifford have set the music industry on fire with their performances that have raised many eyebrows as they have continued to expand their fan count.

Their performance on the second day of Bay City Country Music Festival appeared to be centered around a rock and roll show, but they managed to keep the crowd dancing and wanting more. In their set, they included original songs to their upcoming album that includes “Real Thing” and “That’s My Baby.” Tweed & Dixie ended their set with an Aerosmith cover “Sweet Emotions” that fired up the energetic crowd.

One of the longest-running and most reputable bands in Bay City is next as Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band takes the stage next with their crowd favorite original “Her Taillights.” Just as the band makes a grand entrance, the rain showers didn’t want to feel left out making an appearance once again today also. That, however, didn’t deter Steve or the crowd from continuing on as he introduced to the crowd his next new single “Looking For A Bar” that quickly warmed the crowd up and got them back into their party moods. Being a bit nostalgic, Steve and his 25 Cent Beer Band took off on John Denver’s “Country Roads” before coming across “My Kinda Party” by Jason Aldean. Steve wrapped up his fun time on stage with the crowd chanting for more after his version of “Redneck Side” by Justin Moore.

Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band is lead by Steve Armstrong on vocals and guitar while Jake Satawa is on guitar; Jerome Ratell on guitar and vocals; Zack Brunett on drums and M.K. Fredricks on bass guitar.

A late addition to the line-up includes Bay City’s own Joey Hartley who now calls Nashville, TN home.

Coming home to face the largest crowd he has face yet has Joey excited to take the stage in front of hometown friends and family. Joey starts his performance with a couple of originals “John Wayne” and “Same Team.” After looking over to the river and seeing all the boats out there catching his performance, it inspires him to “Buy Me A Boat” by Chris Jansen and have the crowd dance and sing back to him the words to the song.

Joey got everyone standing and raising their arms in the sky as they all sang “Rock Star” by the rock band Smash Mouth before ending with his current single “Radio.”

Closing out the second day of the two day Bay City Country Music Festival is Frankie Ballard of Battle Creek, MI. As the crowds rushed up to the railing in front of the stage Frankie and his band performed songs from his three previous albums Frankie Ballard (2011), Sunshine & Whiskey (2014) and El Rio (2016).

Starting off with “Young & Crazy,” his #1 single from 2015, Frankie set a fire under him and took off running with a giant crowd there to keep him going. With a series of guitar riffs and solos, Frankie and his guitar player Eddie Robinson had some fun challenging each other and playing off each other’s energy in “Little Bit Of Both.”

Showing his admiration for Johnny Cash while growing up, Frankie added a cover with “Big River.”

Not that they needed any help from the stage, but Frankie looked out over the crowd to the pavilion in the back and dedicated “It All Started With A Beer” to all the beer drinkers in the back at the beer tent before taking off in his “El Camino” with his “Cigarette.”

Thanking the crowd for giving him and his band the life they are living, he dedicates “Helluva Life” to all those out in the crowd who go out to concerts and support the artist by purchasing concert tickets and artist merchandise.

For all those in the crowd who may have had a broken heart at one time or another, Frankie performs “Drinky Drink” for them before ending with his #1 crowd favorite song “Sunshine & Whiskey.”

As a big fan of the late Elvis Presley, being called back to the stage Frankie concludes with a fun band song “Polk Salad Annie.” The crowd approves and adores as Frankie comes out to the front of the stage and passes by all those at the front of the railing before dropping to his knees for an emotional ending.

Although the threats for severe weather was a constant in the Bay Area all weekend, just a few small showers crept up on the festival and dampened things a bit, but overall the festival was a success.

A big shout out to DJ J.D. for providing music in between sets and his great role as emcee for the event by introducing each act before going on stage and also keeping crowds notified of special announcements.

The festival is the first attempt for Ken Shelton Promotions for a show this size and has done a great job with the event. Be sure to follow his links below for future shows in the area.

Thank you to Ken Shelton for allowing Splice-Magazine to attend and provide coverage of this new festival as we look forward to working with you and watching this grow over the years.

Thompson Square:
     

Frankie Ballard:
     

Mandi Layne @ The Lost Highway:
    

Kari Holmes:
      

Todd Michael Band:
    

Kin Faux:
    

Matt Ryan Band:
    

Tweed & Dixie:
      

Steve Armstrong & The 25 Cent Beer Band:
   

Joey Hartley:
    

DJ J.D.:
  

Ken Shelton Promotions:
   

Author: John Reasoner

Senior Photojournalist — Portfolio </a

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