National country acts coming to Hamilton
Sawyer Brown, Scott McCreery headline festival
Justin and Hester Stouder are offering something new for Memorial Day weekend.
While many spend the three days reserved for honoring fallen soldiers with time at the lake and grilling out, the Stouders will bring in The Sawyer Brown Band and Scotty McCreery for their Country Music Festival at Double H Farms in Hamilton.
“We’re a lake community, so we kind of wanted to do something special over Memorial Day weekend, staying in line with fun, music, and being outdoors,” Hester said. “We wanted to give people a chance to get off the lake for the weekend and camp out with some music.”
Beginning Friday, May 27, gates open at 4 p.m. The music gets started with Kari Holmes at 7:30 p.m., followed by The Sawyer Brown Band at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, gates open at 2 p.m. Brent Lowery takes the stage at 4:30 p.m., followed by Matt Williams at 6 p.m., Nashville Crush at 7:30 p.m., and McCreery at 9 p.m.
Each night ends with a fireworks display.
“We’re small-town USA,” Justin said. “A lot of people are coming together to help put on a good, safe, successful show.”
Putting on a show
Double H Farms is a multipurpose property that includes a petting zoo, trails, and rentable space for weddings, receptions, company parties, and a farmers market, but it’s also attracted musical acts, including John Michael Montgomery last summer.
“It’s an interesting process, and I’m not saying it’s all bad, it’s just a challenge,” Justin said of booking concerts. “For John Michael Montgomery, we were in the middle of COVID, so we’re booking at that time, talking with the artist, his agent, and management. We got a lot of attention, which is not usual in this business. Now, it’s a very tough market.”
The market has gotten tough as COVID restrictions have eased, leading to a rush to book acts, so selling yourself is important. At Double H Farms, the Stouders have done a good job of showing they have a venue worthy of national acts.
“They look at you, and you have to prove you’re qualified,” Hester said. “There is just so much involved, that it’s really opened our eyes.”
They have put some work into their property in anticipation of the festival, which included moving their stage to the bottom of a hill.
“We wanted to give people a ton of space, so they can spread out and all have a good view of the show,” Hester said.
Once the shows are over, instead of filing out of the venue, attendees can hang around and camp in their tents for the night, even Saturday to catch a sermon Sunday morning. Food trucks will be available, as well as coffee in the morning.
It’s that kind of atmosphere that Justin prefers.
“I’ve never really been a ‘concert guy.’ I prefer to be outdoors” he said. “I don’t want to be cramped inside a venue. Hanging outside and camping is what we like, and we like to be hospitable.”
With the right amount of hospitality, and right kind of music, the Stouders can see this becoming a tradition.
“We’re hoping to make this an annual event every Memorial Day, and it won’t only be country,” Hester said. “We want to have all kinds of different genres.”
For its first year, the Stouders are sticking with what they know.
“My interest has been mainly in Christian rock and country,” Justin said. “Growing up, I remember John Michael Montgomery, and Hester was the same way. We’ve kind of been driven toward it, and Scotty McCreery is an up-and-coming artist who also mimics some of that older style a little bit.”
And as the festival nears, the Stouders are positive things will turn out the way they want.
“I’m getting excited, because we’re so thankful that so many people have come together to help,” Hester said. “We also made ourselves a promise that we’d take time to listen to the music.”
When it comes to the music, McCreery, winner of Season 10 of American Idol, recently reunited with other performers of the show for a 20th anniversary special on May 2. The AMC and CMT award winner has five No. 1 singles, including “Five More Minutes,” “In Between,” “This Is It,” “You Time,” and “Damn Strait.” He’s currently out in support of his latest album, Same Truck.
Founded in 1981, Sawyer Brown has released 18 studio albums with three No. 1 singles: “Step That Step,” “Some Girls Do,” and “Thank God for You.”
As for the opening acts, Holmes was the 2021 Entertainer of the Year at the Josie Music Awards, where she was nominated in five categories, including Song of the Year and Music Video of the Year for “Deserves To Be Loved.”
Hailing from Pemberville, Ohio, Lowery began his career with Haywire in 2010 before forming his own band, as well as being a part of others while he uses real country in his storytelling.
Army veteran Williams was awarded the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal of Valor. After returning home from his third stint in the Middle East, where he was injured and lost two friends in an IED attack, PTSD and depression settled in. Later, his father passed away. Williams then turned to music as an outlet.
Nashville Crush gets the party going with a balance between country and rock, playing throughout the region the past five years.