Just a few weeks after Lakes Jam, there was another music festival in Brainerd. This one was much smaller, much more accessible, and - frankly - more fun. It didn't hurt that they let me emcee the closing night, either.

Iconic Fest took place at The Green Lantern Bar & Grill, just east of Brainerd. Headliners were The Kentucky Headhunters ("Let's all gooooooooo down to Dumas Walker"...often misheard as, "Let's all goooooooooo down and do Miss Walker") Friday night and Shenandoah (featuring Marty Raybon) Saturday night. Undercards were Freebird (a Skynyrd tribute), Walkin' With Cash (a Johnny Cash Tribute), and Mark Andrew (Top 8 Male Finalist on American Idol 2014 and a Minnesota native).

I wasn't there Friday night for the Headhunters and Freebird, but from what I was told Freebird nailed it. The Kentucky Headhunters got mixed reviews; the rumor was that they were "saving themselves" for a show the next night with Alabama, with whom they apparently have a spat.

Musician drama. Meh.

Saturday kicked off with Mark Andrew. I had no idea what he looked like (the only episode of American Idol that I ever watched was the one where Sanjaya finally got eliminated, and that was only because it was the only thing on at the bar) and walked right up to him...to ask where I could find him. Fortunately I introduced myself first, and he followed suit.

Found him!

Andrew put on a show of mostly covers. His band was fantastic! Some very talented musicians, and Andrew was no slouch himself.

My first emceeing fail came while onstage to introduce Walkin' With Cash.

Me: "How about another hand for Mark............................................."
WWC's bassist: "ANDREW!"

I sheepishly looked over at Mark in the merch tent, who was laughing. I made sure to shake his hand and apologize before he left, and to his credit he took it in stride. *WHEW*

Walkin' With Cash kicked ass. Out of Mattoon, IL, they feature Keith Furry as Johnny Cash and Jan Daily as June Carter Cash. Wedged in with all the hits were Johnny Cash's covers of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage". The crowd finally came alive (perhaps finally Hair of the Doggin' it through a hangover) during WWC.

This whole time, a big storm was moving in from the west. But other than a few sprinkles, the storm split around Brainerd. Obviously, Mother Nature made up for it the next night.

By the time Shenandoah were ready to take the stage, the concert grounds were finally filling up. I was handed a script for their intro by drummer Mike McGuire. After GrammerNazi-ing it, we were set.

I love when bands "ramp" (play vocal-less music) while I'm introducing them. Seriously. It builds excitement, as if the now fully-lubed crowd needed more excitement.

My wife and I caught the first few tunes from backstage, then grabbed the camping chairs and set up shop out front. She's a huge fan, so she disappeared into the crowd with some friends before too long. I stayed back, preferring distance over a crowd. I noticed a huge difference between country crowds (at least this one) and rock crowds (non-metal): the country folks like to dance! It was the country version of a mosh pit.

And...I actually know most of Shenandoah's songs. Disclaimer: my first radio job was at a classic country station.

Overall it was a fun night. Kudos to Huff Entertainment and the Green Lantern Bar & Grill!

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