Country Thunder Announces 2014 Lineup at Launch Event in Tempe
Country Thunder fans from across the Valley were out in droves Saturday night to attend the Country Thunder Launch Fest, located in a grass field adjacent to the Tempe Center for the Arts. The first annual Launch Fest was established to announce the lineup for next spring's Country Thunder, provide live music, and tide over Country Thunder fiends eagerly awaiting April to arrive so they can binge on four days of two-stepping, flannel cleavage, double-fisting beers, cowboy hats and Jack Daniel's.
Photos by Caleb Haley It was an eclectic crowd at Country Thunder's lineup announcement for 2014.
Shortly after 7 o'clock, Country Thunder sponsors from 107.9 KMLE walked on stage to announce the lineup. The video screens next to the main stage rolled a promotional clip showing three headlining artists: Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, and the Band Perry. With each name announced, the crowd roared to life, cheering on the artists on the screen. And that wasn't all of them.
The video montage continued, rounding out the first wave of performers: Colt Ford, Sawyer Brown, Mark Chesnutt, Craig Morgan, Joe Diffie and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Attendees wandered the grounds to visit a line of beer tents, cowboy hat vendors, raffle booths, and several local Phoenix food trucks, including Tom's BBQ (where I found one of the most delicious creations I saw, called a BBQ Sundae and featuring mashed potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and a cherry on top all layered in an ice cream sundae cup.)
This was not an everyday typical music festival. For the majority of the event, the speakers played an array of classic country songs, both past and present, while fans danced and mingled in groups while visiting and drinking beer.
One of the more eclectic gatherings I've seen at a country music event roamed free at Launch Fest, from men in Renaissance robes handing out flyers, to a troop of girls wearing hunter orange vests and camouflage pants, while performing two-step routines to Shania Twain.