One of the popular refrains I heard when country musicians headed to dreaded, inhospitable ultra-liberal Northeast was, "There are country fans in New England?"
Shocker of shockers? That's just about as smart as saying that folks below the Mason Dixon line are big on drinking moonshine, running around bare foot, shooting for sport and driving, of course, a pick-up truck.
Now, you still do hear about the vaunted southern lifestyle in songs by the likes of Luke Bryan telling you about trucks and the like.
So, where is Bryan coming to be playing the last weekend of June 2015? Randall's Island in the Big Apple, of course. Bryan is going to be part of the first ever country music festival in New York City, Farmborough. Cute name as it brings the rural idea to the city where the five boroughs comprise the city.
Bryan will not be alone, of course, as he's going to be joined by Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley as key players at the festival being held June 26-28.
Much praise has to go to the organizers of the extravaganza (not trying to put too much pressure on them ): Live Nation and Founders Entertainment, which is best known for staging the four-year-old Governor's Ball at the same venue with a highly divergent musical line-up.
The New York event is part of a strategy set forth by Brian O'Connell, Live Nation's President of Country Touring. He already has been the brains behind such festivals as Faster Horses in Michigan and Watershed Music Festival in Washington, which started in the past two years.
O'Connell has made it clear he wants to expand Live Nation's involvement by staging country music festivals around the country. He will in start the Route 91 Harvest festival in Vegas in October with Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean appearing.
Farmborough is slated to have up-and-coming acts on the bill. The line-up has not been fully announced, although some others playing are Dwight Yoakam, Chris Stapleton, Ashley Monroe, Brandy Clark, Jon Pardi, Joe Nichols and Kip Moore. Not a bad line-up for starters.
Here's hoping they have more edgy, non-mainstream artists playing as well. Maybe throw some bluegrass bands in the mix and make it cool like the Newport Folk Festival.
Live Nation often is criticized for being the big behemoth of a promoter, but it deserves credit for putting these festivals together and helping to build the country music scene. They obviously are not a fly-by-night operation and presumably will do a good job in New York. Let's hope so because that will lead to even more. Hey, maybe they'll even bring a festival to country fans in New England. At least Live Nation is spreading the country gospel.