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George Strait Country Music Festival -
         Sundevil Stadium, Tempe, AZ - 6/14/1998
WE FEST - Detroit Lakes Minnesota - 09/01-03/97
Kathy Mattea - Greeley Colorado 01/27/98
Kathy Mattea - Aspen Colorado 01/31/98
Kathy Mattea - Denver Colorado 02/01/98

 

George Strait Country Music Festival
March 14, 1998 Sundevil Stadium, Tempe, AZ

Concert review-photos & story by Glenda S. Paradee

We arrived at the concert venue at around 11:00a.m. the line to get into the festival was winding all the way down the railroad tracks next to the stadium. It was a cold and rainy day.

We finally made our way to our seats and the main ground floor. We had great seats. It is a good thing we brought our rain ponchos because it started pouring down rain. It rained all day. 200,000 fans never left. They stuck it out in the rain to see the man, George Strait.

They had Straitland set up behind the stadium to enjoy more music and visit our radio booths, buy concert merchandise, visit the beer garden, carnival rides and just have a good time waiting for each performer to performer.

The lineup for the festival was fantastic starring George Strait and featuring Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery, Lee Ann Womack, Lila McCann and Asleep At The Wheel.

First, Asleep At The Wheel came out and did a great show singing their many hits. Ray Benson and Asleep At The Wheel has been performing for around 25 years.

Next up was asylum records recording artist Lila McCann. She sang her hits including her debut "Down Came A Blackbird". Lila has a powerful voice for such a young performer. She put on a terrific show.

Then Lee Ann Womack came onstage and performed her traditional sounding music including one of my favorites "Never Again, Again" (her first single) and her "You've Got To Talk To Me" and "Get Up In Jesus' Name". Lee Ann's combination of talent, determination, and sincerity assure her a lasting place in the hearts of country music fans everywhere.

It was raining hard when Faith Hill took to the stage. The audience loved her singing her hits "Piece Of My Heart", "Take Me As I Am", and "It Matters To Me" and all her others. Faith just radiated on stage. It seems like a lot, but for a performer that has been in front of an audience since the age of seven this storybook beginning if just that a beginning. The next chapter is already being written.

John Michael Montgomery made his way to the stage and performed his many hits including "I Swear" and "Life's A Dance". John Michael Montgomery has come a long way since beginning his career and because he had such a strong hand in the making of his albums, they are all permeated with the experience of a lifetime of making music, and crowned by the growth and confidence of an artist who has earned his status as a country music superstar.

The rain finally was beginning to stop when Tim McGraw got onstage. He took hold of the audience with his many hits including "Indian Outlaw" and "One Of These Days". The crowd went wild when Faith Hill joined Tim for "It's Your Love". It was dynamic. They did a beautiful job.

As if like magic the rain completely stopped and the sky above cleared up, then George Strait came onstage and the audience gave him a thunderous applause. George proceeded to perform his many hits. What can i say, George Strait is the man of country music!

It was a magical time at the George Strait Country Music Festival!


WE FEST
AUGUST 1-3, 1997
SOO PASS RANCH
DETROIT LAKES, MN

STORY PHOTOS BY
GLEN R. FORRESTER

This was the 15'" anniversary celebration of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Here is a special letter from the WE Fest founder and President Jeff Krueger that I would like to share with you all:

I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the WE Fest staff, sponsors, artists, and especially our incredibly loyal audience, as we celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the WE Fest. I feel profoundly grateful to the Good Lord for bringing us all together over the years, and to each and every person that has ever attended a WE Fest, and shared our dream.

This is a business like no other. Together with the artists, and our audience, we manufacture memories. As long as they sing and play, we'll be there to clap and dance. Our principal product is great country music in the great outdoors. In the beginning, it was pretty hard to build a business based on this most-intangible inventory, but with fifteen years of success behind us, there seems to be a proven demand for our product.

How long will the WE Fest be around? As sure as the sun rises over the Hilltop Campground every morning and little boys and girls pick up sticks and pretend they are guitars, somebody, somewhere, will be writing a country song. We hope that we'll be around to share them with all of you for many years to come.

Sincerely,
WE Fest Founder and President
Jeff Krueger

The lineup in 1997 included: Midsouth, Hawg Wylde, Regina Regina. Junior Brown, Deana Carter, Bryan White, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Vince Gill, The Edlos, Foster Martin Band, Mindy McCready, Bayou Boys, Suzy Bogguss, John Anderson, Tanya Tucker, John Michael Montgomery, Gospel Hour w/Ken Holloway, Jack Nelson & Country Line, Little Texas, Trisha Yearwood, Oak Ridge Boys, Lorrie Morgan and Willy Nelson.

Visit Thanks For The Music's WE Fest Photo Gallery!

Thanks to the WE Fest work force: On the occasion of our fifteenth anniversary, WE Fest Inc. would like to thank everyone that worked so hard over the years to make it happen. It takes a lot of people with many different skills to pull this event together year after year, and we've been fortunate to have great friends and neighbors to work with. So the next time you see a WE Fest employee, remember they're working for you!

If you would like to be part of the WE Fest 98, give the employment office a call at (218) 846-1990. It's another great way to have fun at the WE Fest.

Visit the WE Fest Website

 

Kathy Mattea
Greeley Colorado
01/27/98


As I am "in between" I thought I'd take a couple of minutes and let you know
about the Greeley show.  This weekend is Aspen and Denver.  As you read this
Crested Butte is in swing, with Telluride to follow.  I'm sure the mountains
are white, but to tell you the truth, I've never seen such beautiful weather
in the month of January.  It was springtime in the Rockies yesterday in
Greeley--50s and sunny.

The day I arrived in Denver for the show was the day of the Bronco parade
downtown--an intimate little party for several hundred thousand people.
Denver is a sports town--the world champs of hockey (Avalanche), good baseball team (Rockies), NFL champs (Broncos) and then there's basketball..  At any rate, Kathy didn't miss a beat when it came to cashing in on Bronco
Fever!!!

The concert was held in the Greeley civic center, a lovely community hall
(don't know the seating capacity) but Kathy sold it out, I'm told.  It had a
large floor area and two balconies.  As crowds go, this one was older it
seemed, but the reception was warm and very friendly.  It didn't have that
"controlled rowdy" feeling of folks yelling out stuff (which can be a lot of
fun if alcohol isn't a factor......

Kathy came out and kicked things off with the usual Patiently Waiting and Time Passes By.   Then during "chatty time" she won every Bronco fan in the joint over by offering an original song composed especially for the occasion.  She did a tribute to John Elway (Mr. Everything who is rumored to be considering a political career now) which brought the house down.  It was set to the tune of 18 Wheels and in the coming days I will try to catch more of the lyrics for you all, but basically it was hysterical...even a reference to the White House and Monica Lewinsky!!  In fact, Kathy got politically humorous a couple of times-- even lambasting the press for what I call "piling on".  If you are lost here
SmartSiders, just keep reading...

She mentioned that she was without the services of Paul the keyboard genius
and that it took two guys to replace him.  I am without my hastily scribbled
notes, but there was a songwriter-musician-friend filling in on keyboards and
a very talented guy doing some vocals looking very OOP (out of place) and
uncomfortable between the two Demerols.  The gals were doing their instinctive
little rhythmic do-dahs and he looked like me in the middle of a bunch of
seasoned line dancers.  He had that basic "help me" look on his face.   Kathy
said they all looked like a "guy sandwich" in the band introductions. 

Well, I had a "Kathy moment" at this show that really meant the world to me
that I thought I'd share.  Years ago I personally told Kathy that I was just a
huge, huge fan of A Few Good Things Remain.  Back in 95, she dusted it off and they performed it in Eugene, but it stayed MIA in most concerts.  At this show she told the group that they would be doing two halves interrupted by a 20 minute intermission and that they'd like to do a few old favorites.  Then they
launched into AFGTR but before the vocals began she said, "This is for you
Sue".  I had the basic reaction....that adrenaline rush that leaves you limp,
followed by the teary-eye problem, followed by thoughts of how do I thank you for a) remembering and b) performing it?  :)  I sure would love to have a job that made so many people that happy.....

The first half was sprinkled with old and new stuff (got to hear Love at the
Five and Dime, She Came From Ft. Worth, Goin Gone and AFGTR) and it's always awesome to hit one of the "long" programs.  Mainly because I love it when they open the second half with "Into the Night".  Plus, they just have more time to do more tunes.  While she's always superb with the chit-chat, this night was exceptional.  She was breaking "G-strings" left and right and a one point broke one on Blackie II, had it removed by KW, and before it was changed and returned she broke another on the Jumbo.  So, here she stands without a guitar basically killing time and hamming it up.  She said "It's time like these I wish I knew any clean jokes."  Gerry reminded her of one and she did a
passably good job of stand up comedy.  I guess it's called thinking on your
feet.  And she's such a pro.

She also mentioned that with this "new band" we'd experience some trainwrecks (musically) but that there would be some great improv, fresh interpretation to balance everything out.  And there were.  I kept thinking to myself how different the experience was in Paul's absence.  Being a "regular" the differences were glaring--not in a bad way either.  It's like hearing someone
else sing a Kathy song--Mary did you know or Sending Me Delberts.  You know it's the same song, but my oh my. 

There was a new introduction to Come From the Heart and for about a minute I
wasn't sure where they were headed with the song.  Or put another way I
thought to myself, "Which song might this be?"  I am always comparing crowd
reactions to certain songs and this group really came unglued on Mary, Did You
Know, Shut De Door and always, always, always the folks love 455 Rocket.

Just a really enjoyable night, with some explanations thrown in for good
measure. Kathy mentioned that these Colorado gigs were the end of the line for
this particular band.  That she was going to change gears and slow down to the
extent that she could enjoy "life" a bit in '98 and work on a record AND do
some acoustic concerts--but not at the breakneck pace of years past.  I
remember sitting there thinking...how wise of you to place such importance on
your own mental health and keep your family in such great perspective.  So now
we get to look forward and gear up for Love Travels II, I guess.

On a personal note, I had the opportunity to attend a recording session.  I
must say that it took a lot of the mystery out of the process for me.  And
while it was a first for me and I was busy drinking in everything, others
might find it tedious.  But watching the process was totally fascinating.  I
was there watching a Denver recording artist and her husband lay down some
backing vocals.  It was awesome.  By the way, a plug might be in order.   Her
name is Celeste Krenz and she is very good & incredibly nice.  As all country
artists eventually do, she is knocking on Nashville doors with some success.

Well,  I've rambled on enough, so adieu for a couple of days.  The thought of
getting back on that 47-minute long Thrill Ride known as Delta Flight 1549
does NOT appeal.  The airspace between SLC and Denver is Air Turbulence Alley and I always forget not to eat. Wish me luck and stay tuned....

Love Travels,

Sue Phelps

 

Kathy Mattea
Aspen Colorado

01/31/98

I went back to Aspen to catch Kathy at the Wheeler Theatre where she was doing two shows.  The Wheeler is an historic, beautiful old theatre that was
restored to it's former grandeur and it is nothing short of spectacular.
Kathy loves playing there--the last time being February of 1995.  (On a
personal note, that 1995 gig was the first time I'd seen KM in a real, classy
venue with drop-dead sound...prior to that it was state fairs and basketball
arenas...It was also our first real meeting.)  Aspen is everything those of
you who haven't been there would imagine it to be.  A town of wealth and
celebs and people roaming the streets in ski boots and sunglasses.  It has
interesting shops and fabulous restaurants---  There is also a snooty feel
which is counterbalanced by the ski-bum element.  It has it all....$11.50
hamburgers, more women in fur than you can count, and hotel rooms that would break your vacation budget for three years....   And I left my coat in the
Salt Lake airport.  Oh well.

The two Aspen shows were an incredible study in contrast.  We'd just come off a concert in Greeley where Kathy sold the place out, had a very responsive and friendly crowd and in the true spirit of giving back, she sang her heart
out--25 songs.  The longest show I think I've ever attended.  I even had my
Kathy moment as I previously shared.  So the reserved, small crowd at the
first show was a bit of a comedown.  Note: the Wheeler seats approx. 500
people!  Small, intimate, very good sound.  Also you veteran concert goers
know that when there is a doubleheader, the second show is usually the one to
go to, given a choice.  Well, I suppose it goes without saying that we were at
both?  :)  Same seats even.  It's not that it wasn't a great show, it was.
But the missing element was the crowd.  Fifteen songs with encore.  She told
her skiing horror story, sang the Elway "18 Wheels" song, and offered a very
wonderful tribute to John Denver--an Aspen resident for years and years.  So
the show ends and they begin to clear out the entire theatre and lobby.  I am
gimping around like I'm on my last leg (I was) and the theatre manager asks me
if I would care to wait inside instead of exiting.  Okay, choice to make:  sit
in a chair by the merchandise table, or go outside in the snowing 20 degree
weather.... No brainer.  As I was sitting in the chair, observing the
transactions I smiled to myself over and over as the Aspenfolk would approach
the table and ask, "Which CD is __________ on?  They wouldn't know the title and the poor volunteers were reading frantically to try and answer their
questions.  I fought every impulse to get up and go over there and take
charge, but I didn't.  I was struck by the numbers of people who swarmed the
table.  I overheard that they ran out of discs and had to go get more off the
truck.  Cool.  Lots wanted the CD with Shut the door on the Devil, and many
were looking for that song about "things changing and not being the same as
they were before....the one by some woman named the same as the theatre..."
Some had to have 455... It just reminded me of a time when I didn't know who
Kathy was either and finding out seemed real important then.  I was watching
the formation of baby Matteaheads, I'm sure.

The second show was a different feel.  Altogether.  Rowdier crowd, a bit
longer.  Same stories, same lovely tributes to Elway and Denver.  One really
funny thing happened that you might find amusing.  We did.  Kathy wore her
"Milano" outfit  (I have this habit of naming things....)  It was this cool
button up the front top with little leaf patterns all over it--velourish.
Well, in the course of all the activity a strategic button came undone.  She
glanced down, saw it and got this stricken look, muttered a single word (use
your imagination--I'm not tellin') and turned her back to the audience in a
nano-second.  She fixed the problem and did some exaggerated moves as if to
say "I'm getting it all done, here--excuse me" and then turned back to the
audience who by this time were howling....  She had this black choker on that
had a dangling heart on it.  All night I watched that thing take laps around
her neck.  It never was where it belonged.  Everyone settled down and she told
a story about a time when she was playing in front of a large audience and she
accidentally flipped a pick and it shot straight up in the air, did several
rotations and --let's just say it didn't fall on the ground....  it slid down
the front of her dress apparently.  What Kathy didn't hear which cracked
everyone up even more was a guy behind me who commented, "Lucky Pick!!!"   It was just one funny, spontaneous moment in a whole night full of them.   Second show, definitely more fun....  Much beer flowing, more happy people.   Kathy commented both shows, "The more you drink, the better we sound...."   But, drunk, stone cold sober or anywhere in between, the band was hot (even with the newcomers) and Kathy was in fine form.

So, on to Denver for the last show....literally.  It would be the last gig of
the Love Travels tour.  A farewell to lots of crew and band.  I didn't know
what to expect, but I will close this post by telling you that it was pure
magic for me...an old seasoned KM show-goer.  I have more to say about this
show than any since the Christmas Minneapolis gig that ranked my #1.  But now I need to go to work.

Stay tuned. 

Love Travels,

Sue Phelps

 

Kathy Mattea
Denver Colorado

02/01/98

Well, as promised...here is your third installment of our Rocky Mountain High.
Last stop, Denver CO--home of the world champion, Denver Broncos.  Ask me if I got tired of Bronco-mania......  I felt the same way up in Green Bay last
October when everywhere we went there was something cheese-like to be bought as a souvenir.   Sorry, I LOVE sports but I get tired of the hype. [Someone remind me I said that when My Jazz win the NBA finals].  I can only imagine how someone feels who hates it.

The Paramount Theatre...one of those "over-dressed", big, honkin' movie
theatres of days gone by.  Back before the Cineplex Twelves and the video
stores on every corner.  Back when going to a show was a dress-up occasion
and there weren't 50 to choose from on any given weekend.  This Theatre is a
big venue with a nice balcony and a ceiling that seems five stories tall.  It
was a smaller crowd than Greeley, but I saw bunches of cowboy hats, and that
is always a good sign.  There were also lots of Kathy T-Shirts being worn--all
in all, a younger, crowd with that "Let's party" look on their faces.  I was
with my travelling Colorado bud, Terri Stewart (a fan club member with
Graybeard status) and she had scored us some more primo seats...  Again, it
felt deja vu-ish in that this was the same Aspen-Denver trip I had taken three
years ago with my son, Vezhead---or Bryan as his friends know him.

I never have really recounted a concert from start to finish but I think for
this one I'd like to try.  There were so MANY memorable moments...  <sigh>

Kathy came out to an enthusiastic Denver crowd, dressed in the Love Travels.
(the outfit from the record cover)  She had that inch and a half exposed
midriff thing happening.  AND in all three cities I heard this comment from
nearby seats:  She chopped her hair OFF!!!!!  I am thinking like, DUH where
have you guys been, when I realized that in this world there probably are
people out there who don't know the comings and goings of KM like we do.  I
mean she sneezes, and one of us is there to say Gezundheit, practically.
Anyway, we are plunged into PATIENTLY WAITING, followed closely by TIME PASSES BY.   Then Kathy takes a long look around and voices everyone's pleasure that the Paramount has indeed, survived another year.  (By the way, some of you might be interested to know that the theatre tacked a whopping $50 fee on top of the admission fee to seats in the first five or so rows.  I almost swallowed my tongue, but being a trooper, "gladly" contributed to the fund to save the Paramount.)  Followed by STANDING KNEE DEEP, FT. WORTH (of course she had to pander to the Coloradoans assembled by saying that she hoped someone would whisk her away from Ft. Worth, too..given the choice of Boulder or Ft. Worth there is no choice....) and then happily we were treated to GOIN' GONE!!! 

Then came the big suck-up.  The Elway tribute!!!  Here's my best effort.   It's
sung to the tune of 18 Wheels And A Dozen Roses.


Elway got a big ring
Won it in the big game
After years and years of kicking round the NFL
The whole country watched it on TV
Even Monica Lewinsky
And the President watched whole thing from his big screen TV

18 Broncs and a dozen cheeseheads
One more try before he gets too old
A few more cheers from the fans in the stadium
And everyone will know that Denver won the Superbowl

Kathy Mattea
Captain Potato Music
1998


Now, that's my best guess at the lyrics.  Don't hold me to them.  Maybe Ellen McDonald, Kathy's Fan Club President' can get them and put 'em in the next Street Talk?  I mean, really.  "Our Kathy" is a burgeoning songwriter and this is PROOF.

All I can tell you is that she brought the house down.  And then she launched
into the real 18 WHEELS, to more thundering applause.  Next was a great
version of COME FROM THE HEART with a new intro that took me a while to figure out.   SENDING ME ANGELS, I'M ON YOUR SIDE, MY GOD (ate it up), LOVE TRAVELS and then an intermission.

Coming back on stage they kicked it off with INTO THE NIGHT (guitar duet),
NOBODYS GONNA RAIN, CLOWN IN YOUR RODEO and then another surprise.  Kathy starts to intro the song Love at the Five and Dime, looks over and sees Bill with the wrong guitar and does a mid-course correction.  She does A FEW GOOD THINGS with another dedication (blushing and overwhelmed---again)!!  Then follows up with UNTOLD STORIES.  At this point, it got nuts.  I mean major league funny.  In all my travels I've never seen Kathy so quick on her feet...so witty...so in control of a show.  While telling the really touching story of her parents aging --setting up FURTHER AND FURTHER AWAY, a cell phone rings.  She stops mid sentence and mentions that very fact.   Takes the mic off the stand and walk to the edge of the stage, shields her eyes from the spotlight and asks the phone owner to bring that phone up to the stage and let her (Kathy) talk to the "interrupter".  The crowd is laughing, the poor lady from in back of me fairly whispers, "It's my pager" apologetically.   Kathy of course milked it for all its worth, but it was priceless.  That poor woman. The call was SO perfectly timed.  So, KM does FAFA, follows up with MARY DID YOU KNOW.  Then boom, right into READY FOR THE STORM.  Three more powerful, soulful ballads were never written, right?  Right.  Well, some cowboy somewhere yells WHERE'VE YOU BEEN? breaking the spell a skosh and Kathy wheels in his direction and does the mock-Valley girl thing-- "Like DUH, I've been right here in the spotliiiiight."   She has set her guitar down and is getting ready to introduce the band when she notices that more than an inch and a half of midriff is showing.  Tugging at the top that is designed NOT to tuck in, she says, "How Shania Twain of me!"  Big laughs.  Well, she does the band intros and it is funny in and of itself, but then as she is finishing some guy yells out "Who are YOU?"  She didn't hear and Gerry tells her what he'd said, and she turns in his direction and says, Why I'm Shania Twain!"  Two Twain zingers...You go girl

Well, I may have the sequence wrong but what would happen next was something I'll long remember.  Kathy took the opportunity to tell us that she hoped we had enjoyed this show because they had gone to a lot of trouble to make it special.  The reason being of course, that it was the farewell performance for some band members, and some crew.   At that point she lost it, regained control and started to publicly thank crew who had been around for years.. (At one point Kathy, wiping at the tears, said that she felt like she was doing the Judd Farewell concert)....Jay came out and there were tearful hugs (women AND men...) She mentioned that Tina had received a recording contract recently and would be part of a trio...  and she brought Kathy Wolter on stage as well.  It was hard to watch because those of you who follow Kathy know these people and the thought of them going separate ways is sad....  This happy and close "family" took a long bow to a very appreciative and in some cases, weepy crowd. It would have been bittersweet for the most unenlightened fan, I'm sure.  Think what it did to us poor diehards on the front row, watching
everything unfold....

Well they encored with Love the One You're With and were brought right back
out with HARLEY, done because fans were pleading...  26 SONGS...without a
doubt the longest and most gut-wrenching experience of my Kathygig life.  I
will stand by the Christmas Minneapolis show as the most musically satisfying
concert of all, but this one will long remain a favorite for the love that
filled the room and the honest emotion that we were lucky to share.  Amazing.

Well, I'm exhausted just thinking about it!  Kathy came out into the theatre
for the meet n' greet and the gal I was with had a pass.  It was a large
group, but it went quickly. I had a chance to say goodbye and we talked about
several things...one of which was fans and how grateful she was to each of
you.  I guess after that "performance" she wanted me to know that she was
still gonna be around doing the acoustic things and that the bigger sound may
indeed be back next year...  As I left the theatre and on my way home, I
thought:  how lucky are the fans who knew the John Mock years....what a great
blessing to have known the music of Monster Truck Pull....losing the Suzy's
and the Yudkins and the Tommys was tough, but out of the ashes came the "new" band and arrangements that were honestly wonderful, with songs redone so well that I never missed the older versions.... now this acoustic period!  I hope over the next 30 or so shows, we can all find one to attend--just to say we
did.  Just to see where she'll take us next.  I for one, CANNOT WAIT.

Sorry for the length of this post.  But it was three of the best hours I've
spent in a long, long time...   Ciao for now.

Love Travels,

Sue Phelps

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