The skies weren’t the only things smoking on Saturday as two high-energy alt-country bands and a rock ‘n’ roll band burned up the stage at the first-ever Back Country Bash held at the Chief Joseph Days rodeo grounds.
Bands included Micky and the Motorcars, Corb Lund and Cody Canada and the Departed.
Crowds were gathered around the rodeo grounds long before the gates opened at 3 p.m., and a steady stream of people flowed in as the evening progressed.
Darrell Brann and Caleb Samples opened the show with four choice acoustic Americana/blues numbers with Samples’ fiddle offering a nice counterpoint to Brann’s emphatic blues playing.
Micky and the Motorcars next took the stage for a 90-minute set, getting the crowd further revved up with their patented blend of country, blues and rock that saw their last release hitting No. 17 on the U.S. Country charts. Micky Braun, along with bandmates and brother Gary Braun, hail from Stanley, Idaho, but now reside in alt-music capital Austin, Texas.
After the show, Braun said he enjoyed his time in Joseph.
“I got in this afternoon about 3 p.m., and spent some time in tow, had a beer and pizza and hung out. We had a great set here, and I’d like to play here again.”
Local musician An American Forrest played a set for the appreciative audience before Corb Lund and his Hurtin’ Albertans band from up Canada way loped onstage. Lund’s set with his western-themed brand of country hit the mark with the audience.
As the son of a Canadian rancher and large-animal veterinarian, Lund’s tunes reflected the ranch and rodeo cowboy life and its accompanying hard knocks. His performance took the audience to near fever-pitch. In true cowboy fashion, he began and ended the set with cowboy staple “Rye Whiskey.”
Drawing more from the Allman Brothers Band than Merle Haggard, Oklahoma-based headliner band Cody Canada and the Departed burned up the stage and audience with their incendiary rock-heavy music. Eschewing the twangy sound of country’s typical Fender Telecaster guitars, Canada opted for the full-throated roar of a Paul Reed Smith ax that put the PA system to the test.
Canada strutted up and down the stage until after 10 p.m. as more and more of the crowd pressed in close. By the last part of the show, more than a few girls were screaming.
After the band left the stage, the audience kept up a raucous chant of “Bring them back” until the band returned for a one-song encore, the only encore call of the night.
After Canada and his band departed, a surprising number of the audience had enough energy to attend the “After Party Breakfast” before following the rest of the crowd home.
OK Theatre owner Darrell Brann, who served as the producer for the event, hopes to do it again.
“Everyone was great. I’d love to build this up and keep it outlaw/alt-country. If they let us do it again, I want to make it bigger. We have 4,000 seats -- let’s fill’em.
Event director Brooke Pace said that she considered the concert a success with 800-850 tickets sold at prices ranging from $40 to $50. According to Pace, ticket requests came from 10 states, including North Carolina. Like Brann, she believes the event could be done on a larger scale. Although the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo governing board has to vote on it, Pace thought the ticket sales would convince the board it was worthwhile.
“We learned a lot, and we’ll keep getting better,” she said.