Dierks Bentley, Sara Evans + More Take the ‘Wheel’
More than 12,000 fans packed the Lake Elisnore, Calif. Diamond this past weekend for the two-day Wagon Wheel Country Music Festival. Dierks Bentley, Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, James Otto, Randy Houser, Troy Olsen, Dwight Yoakam and more all entertained the fans with their own hits and a few classic covers here and there.
Saturday's daytime set included Emerson Drive, who played their songs 'I Should Be Sleeping,' 'Testify,' 'Good Man' and 'Moments,' as well as a cover of the Charlie Daniels Band's 'Devil Went Down to Georgia.' Up next was Jimmy Wayne who, in between autograph signings from the stage, performed his 'I Will,' 'Stay Gone' and 'Do You Believe Me Now,' in addition to his cover of Hall & Oates 'Sara Smile,' which Jimmy included on his album of the same name.
Sunday afternoon brought James Otto with his 'Groovy Little Summer Song,' 'Love Don't Cost a Thing,' 'Shake What God Gave Ya' and 'It's a Good Time (for a Good Time),' which James told the crowd he wrote for "all the people who are just fed up!" He also drew from the Rolling Stones, singing their 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' before giving the crowd exactly what they wanted: his current single 'Soldiers & Jesus' and the No. 1 most-played song of 2008, 'Just Got Started Lovin' You.'
Randy Houser followed his buddy with tracks such as 'My Kind of Country,' 'They Call Me Cadillac' and 'Welcome to the Dog House,' before hits including 'Boots On' and 'Anything Goes,' which Randy described as the "first song I had on the radio that I actually sang and, more importantly, the first song my momma got to hear me sing on the radio."
The singer-songwriter, who penned songs like Trace Adkins' 'Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,' loved bringing his Mississippi roots to Southern California. "There's some pretty country folks out here in California," Randy told The Boot. "We're everywhere."
Newcomer Troy Olsen also gave a wonderful performance Sunday morning, despite being diagnosed with tonsillitis that morning. His set included 'Trying to Find The Sun,' current single 'Good Hands' and 'Tumbleweed,' before throwing in a few jokes. "I got to walk the red carpet at Monday's premiere of 'Country Strong,' because I have a song I co-wrote called 'Love Don't Let Me Down' on the soundtrack," Troy told the crowd. "I saw Gwyneth Paltrow. Apparently she's happy in that marriage [to Coldplay's Chris Martin] ... I asked. [laughs]"
Troy tried his hand at Tom Petty's 'Last Dance with Mary Jane' before moving on to his own 'Ghost Town Train.' "I've been very fortune to have my songs cut," he told the audience of the latter song. "I wrote this three or four years ago and it's one of my favorite. Big thanks to Tim McGraw for recording it, because songwriters like me need superstars like him to cut our songs." He ended his segment with his debut single, 'Summer Thing.'
The nightly concerts brought two lovely ladies. Sara Evans brought her 'As If,' 'Born to Fly,' 'I Keep Looking' and 'Suds in the Bucket' Sunday night. She got lots of laughs, following her new single 'A Little Bit Stronger,' when she told the crowd they had to "promise to go home and download that song because my husband and I have seven kids ... and they eat a lot."
Lee Ann Womack took the same slot Saturday night, pleasing fans with everything from 'Does My Ring Burn Your Finger' and 'Never Again, Again' to 'One's a Couple,' 'Last Call,' and 'I May Hate Myself in the Morning.' The entire audience sang along as she sang the instant classic, 'I Hope You Dance.'
"I got my record deal and I got an A&R guy to help me find songs for my first album," she recalled the audience. "I decided I didn't like him because I didn't need any help. But he kept bringing me songs and when he came with this one he promised it would be my first No. 1. I cut it and it did ... and then he became my second husband!" The A&R guy was, of course, Lee Ann's husband Frank Liddell, and the song was 'The Fool.'
Dwight Yoakam closed the show Sunday night, bringing the festival to a close with everything from 'Please, Please Baby' to 'Blame the Vain' and 'What Do you Know About Love.' He also paid homage to the late Buck Owens with 'Act Naturally' and 'Streets of Bakersfield.'
Dierks Bentley fired up the crowd Saturday night, starting off bluegrass-style, gathered around the mic with his band for 'Up on the Ridge.' His performance included 'Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),' 'Feel That Fire,' 'Trying to Stop You Leavin',' and 'Little Heartwrecker,' which he prefaced by saying "there are a lot of beautiful girls here tonight, and they usually mean trouble."
Before taking the stage, Dierks noticed the RV camping area outside the Diamond and one camper in particular. "I saw someone who had an Arizona flag flying under the American flag," he recognized. "Here's to all the other Zonis, who had to cross border lines to come here."
"I was thinking of my dad, a World War II vet, when I wrote this song and the more I sing it, the more it feels appropriate for the military and anyone who has ever served," he explained before singing 'Long Trip Alone.'
"Country music is like religion for me, this is like church for me," Dierks professed before breaking into "one of my favorite songs," 'Wish it Would Break.' Next up was 'How Am I Doin',' which included a long enough break for Dierks to introduce himself to a member of the audience and ask her name before he realizing he had to go finish the tune.