As day ten of The Great New York State Fair rolled in, it was destined to be a huge day. Skies were blue, temperatures perfect, and the day had a line up that made country music fans salivate…in fact it was the only day the grandstands had sold out with more than 17,000 fans anticipating a night they won’t forget. It was time for the “Burn It Down” tour to take center stage and you could already feel the heat.
Uncle Kracker –Setting out a bit early to enjoy the day with my son and his friends, it was a godsend that we did as we got stuck in the hour-long traffic on 690 coming in to the Fair. My regular exit, Exit 7, had already been closed and parking was being diverted to the Exit 6 Orange Parking Lot. Getting nervous that I would miss the opportunity to photograph Uncle Kracker (as media is only allowed the first three songs generally), I stayed calm and snaked my way around the hundreds of cars to the far back parking areas. Seeing that the window of time was diminishing, I began to panic. All I can say at this point was THANK YOU PARKING ATTENDANT that allowed me to make my own parking space that day so that I could catch the bus to the front gate. I literally made it with less than two minutes to spare. I didn’t even care that my son his friends never noted where we parked so that later in the evening when we left it would take us a half hour to find the car. All was good. I made it on time.
As I approached Chevy Court and as Uncle Kracker (real name Matt Shafer) took the stage, I noted a standing room only crowd. It was one of the largest afternoon crowds I had seen to date. Didn’t surprise me though as Uncle Kracker brings such an eclectic mix of music to his fans. His distinctive sound; raspy & sexy, lends itself perfrectly to a mix of country, rap, rock, and hip hop. Now with five albums under his belt and collaborations with such stars as Kid Rock and Kenney Chesney, it’s hard to believe that he began all those years ago as a DJ with his brother. He is an accomplished songwriter, performer, and his rapport with the crowd was entertaining as he bantered back and forth. Notable (and favorite) moments of the show had to include his mash-up of Steve Miller’s “Joker” into Jim Croce’s song “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown”, and his remake of “Drift Away” originally by Dobie Gray. His spin brought the crowd to their feet and a smile to their faces. In fact all of his songs tend to be upbeat and positive. Closing with his songs “Smile” and “All Summer Long” (co-written and recorded by friend, Kid Rock), you couldn’t help leaving Chevy Court in a good mood ready to tackle the crowds of the day.
Set List: Heaven > Saturday Night > Good To Be Me > Little While > Better Days > Blue Skies > Follow Me > Stranger >Got That Thing/Leroy Brown > Sun Goes Down > Happy > Disasters > Drift > Smile > All Summer Long
On this beautiful day as one meandered around the Fair you couldn’t help feeling like a small fish in a big sea. The crowds were massive. On Day 10, 120,617 individuals made their way through the gates breaking all previous records held for 25 years. In fact, on this day, the statistics show that the Great NY State Fair was the place to be.
- Paid Parking Number – 23,010 which is the most the parking supervisor can recall in his more than a quarter century at the fair
- Attendance for sold out Jason Aldean/Florida Georgia Line/Tyler Farr show : 17,050
- $1 baked potatoes sold: 4,753
- 25 cent milk tickets sold 34,510
- Gallons of chocolate milk sold at Rainbow Bar 1,508 (sold out by 8:30pm)
- Number of Twinx (Twix bar in a Twinkie wrapped in bacon and deep-fried with a sprinkling of powdered sugar) sold at the Fried Specialties two booths: 1,140 about double any other day, says owner Jim Hasbrouck
- Number of cups of beer and soda sold at the grandstand Saturday night approximately 18,500
- Number of rides taken on the Wade Shows Midway 122,781
As I made my way through the sea of people towards the Grandstands it seemed that the wave of people would never end as they entered in the pre-requisite dress code of cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and either red white and blue or camouflage attire. It was proof that the Mason Dixon Line no longer exists and all things country are embraced right here in Central NY.
Tyler Farr – First up was Tyler Farr, one of country music’s newest and most promising acts of 2014. Being the second time I covered one of his shows, I couldn’t wait to see him and his awesome band perform once again. Just love taking photos of Gary, his guitar player who sports one of the greatest Mohawks out there. The one thing that stands out about Tyler Farr is his love of his audience. NYS Music unfortunately couldn’t coordinate our anticipated interview with Tyler for this show/article due to his busy schedule, but had we been able to I was planning to award him my official “Audience Appreciation” award. The first of its kind, and one that is not given out to just anyone. The first time I covered a Tyler Farr show was at the Taste of Country Festival down at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. For the entire weekend, one young man in the audience wore a turkey decoy on his head. You couldn’t help but notice, you couldn’t help but admire his audacity, and you couldn’t help but wonder about him. I can’t tell you how many artists came out to perform on Friday and Saturday that had to have seen him. Then on Sunday when Tyler came out, he immediately called out the dude and told him “he was his new best friend”. Those things resonate with me as a journalist. I look to capture the interaction between the performer and audience and feed off of that energy for photos and my reviews. It was duly noted.
Fast forward now to this show, and once again Tyler Farr proved to me he’s all about his audience as he came right out into the crowd to perform amongst them, bringing the reason he’s where he is, down to earth again, with his fans. Not only did he bring it down to this fans, he gave a shout out to the sound and stage crew that work tirelessly during shows to make it all happen seamlessly. This young man does not put himself up on pedestals, so for this very reason I will place you up on one as a star. Humility is a wonderful character trait, and remembering what it’s all about in the fast paced music business is difficult to do. He is one individual you will hear more about as time goes on. His musical abilities, songwriting capabilities, and stage presence will be making this new artist one of country music’s future stars. I know he’s one of mine.
Florida Georgia Line – To say I was excited about the next two acts was an understatement. This would be the first time I had the opportunity to cover a Florida Georgia Line show. Well, they certainly lived up to my expectations. These two young men are two of the most energetic performers out there. They came out with a bang, singing, dancing, sending the crowd into a frenzy. If you were in the pit this evening, there is no doubt that you got to shake hands with one if not both as they did everything they could to reach out to everyone. I was totally impressed by them. True class act. Working the stage every minute of every song, they belted out favorites “Round Here”, “Shine On”, “This Is How We Roll”, Dirt”, and “Cruise” to name only a few on their set list. But it wasn’t until they began “Party People” that they took the crowd over the top as the crowd joined Tyler & Brian singing, cheering, and screaming alongside them and the band. High energy doesn’t begin to describe the electricity you felt from the performance. Power surge was more like it.
Jason Aldean – Jason Aldean’s Burn It Down Tour of 2014 has been sold out from coast to coast. With fire spewing all around him, Jason enters the stage, slowly rising on a platform from down below. As the form of the shadow appears with his cowboy hat tucked down over his eyes amidst the explosions and flames, it was apparent why this show has been deemed as one of the best tours of the year. This superstar sure knows how to make an entrance. For Jason Aldean, it’s not just all show, he can back this pomp and circumstance up with the music and the talents needed to classify him as one of today’s country superstars. With twelve number one hits, record selling albums, numerous nominations and awards from American Music Awards, Billboard, Country Music Association, Country Music Television Awards, Academy of Country Music, Teen Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and The Grammy’s, Jason Aldean has made his mark on Nashville, and in the record books as a country legend.
With his new album Old Boots, New Dirt right on the verge of release, it’s already hitting the charts with it’s first released number one single “Burnin It Down”. With a few more sneak peeks being released such as “Two Night Town,” “Sweet Little Something” and “Gonna Know We Were Here”, it’s only a matter of time that the number one hits and awards blazing their way through the charts for this album as well.