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Thursday July 31st 2014

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Boots on the Beach

By Whitney Fike

Can I get a yee-haw at DeLuna Fest? You sure can. It’s cliché to say there is something for everyone at DeLuna Fest this year, but honestly there is. I’m your tried and true country music fan and I’m excited about this hometown music festival.

I’ve attended every year since its inception. My first year I worked completely behind the scenes, the second year I enjoyed the festival in the VIP section and this year I’ll be catching great bands as purely a live music fan.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been focusing on the up-and-comers of country music. The fresh blood on the music scene makes for up-close-and-personal concerts, fan interaction, real on-stage emotions and passion. Country music tells stories and in my career field, I’m a storyteller, too. That is the reason why I have a strong connection with the songs, lyrics and the artists.

A country music icon will be gracing Pensacola with his presence at DeLuna Fest. Dwight Yoakam performs Friday night and you’ll get to hear tracks from his brand new album, “3 Pears,” that was just released on September 18, and plenty of older songs like “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” and “Turn it on, Turn it up, Turn me Loose.” Fans will hear new songs that Yoakam says balances his country core with a fiercely independent embrace of rock, Americana, pop and soul.

For any country music fan, mega-country artist Zac Brown Band is the ultimate draw closing out the 3rd annual DeLuna Fest on Sunday night. With nine hit singles, two platinum-selling records, and fans that keep coming back for more, the band is sure to put on an amazing show. What better place for them to be “Knee Deep” in the water than pristine Pensacola Beach. If you’re a music fan like me, you’re already very familiar with everything Zac Brown Band and know they’ll have no problem fitting right into their roots with “Chicken Fried,” “Toes,” “Whatever It Is,” and “Highway 20 Ride.” Not to be confused with Highway 29, but pretty darn close. Their latest single, “The Wind” has been taking over radio stations.

Want to find me at the festival? I will be front and center at Walker Hayes’ show. He was raised here on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Ala. Hayes will be performing songs from his debut album “Reason to Rhyme.” His sense of humor shows in his song titles and lyrics, which is what drew me in as a fan. In “Why Wait for Summer” he sings about having his cooler packed with beer and heading his truck toward Pensacola. Crowds love when their city is mentioned in a song, especially performing it on the beach. My favorite song on his album is “Pants.” Hayes wrote the song about his wife Laney and he states in the song that she can wear the pants in the relationship as long as he can take them off her. It is a must listen.

Here is what you might not know. As a country music fan, there are acts that will be performing at DeLuna Fest that you have never heard of, but you will remember them. That is the beauty of a music festival. You can read bios about bands and artists but you never truly embrace the music until you have seen them live. Live shows are unparalleled. Take a chance to scout out new bands that you would never have gone to see otherwise.

Venture on the edge of country music over to The Wood Brothers. They share the same label, Southern Ground, as Zac Brown Band. Brown helped get them signed since the brothers opened for the band in 2010. Their music blends the sound of folk, blues, bluegrass and country. Take a listen to their song, “Luckiest Man” for a sample of what to expect.

Blackberry Smoke is a staple around the South. We are lucky they perform in Pensacola and it probably helps that Paul Jackson, who plays guitars and vocals, is a local. Finally, make sure you don’t miss Trampled by Turtles. Inspired by traditional folk, fiddle, and bluegrass songs, the band appeals to the calmness that lures country fans into their music.

Enjoy the festival, the atmosphere, the music and the people. Remember to show some love to Pensacola and the things that people do for our community.

Whitney touts herself as being a country music lover, a festival junkie, public relations and event specialist, traveler and a feisty southern girl. Follow her @sparkplugwhit or southernsparkplug.com.

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