Since Rockfest way back in May, Kansas City has really been missing that festival flavor throughout this summer. Kanrocksas went belly up in a well-documented fiasco, and the organizers of Buzz Beach Ball pushed that event back to the end of September.
But have no fear, St. Joe and Kansas City music fans — country’s finest are coming to pick up the slack.
The first ever Flatlands Country Music Festival will be held Sept. 12, 13 and 14 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. About 24,000 people are expected to attend the festival, and many of them will be camping in nearby areas. Tickets are still on sale for the event for $99 and can be purchased at flatlandsfestival.com.
Fifteen of the biggest names in country music will be performing during the weekend at Sporting Park. Let’s catch up with three of the event’s most prominent acts.
Rucker rose to stardom as the frontman of Hootie & The Blowfish, churning out hit after hit in the ‘90s with songs like “I Only Want to Be With You” and “Time.” The group won two Grammy awards and had 16 chart-topping singles in all.
Then, with the release of “Learn to Live” in 2008, Rucker struck out on his own and immediately found success in country music. He followed up that certified-platinum album with 2010’s critically acclaimed “Charleston, SC 1966,” which was powered by the hits “This” and “Come Back Song” and debuted at the top of country album charts. In the last year, Rucker forged on with the release of “True Believers” (which featured a notable collaboration with Lady Antebellum) and became a member of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry.
This year, Rucker also has put a greater focus into his concert tour. He performed at the C2C: Country to Country festival in London in March, and now he’ll be performing at another major festival in Kansas City. The fact that it’ll be one huge three-day party was the biggest draw for Rucker.
“I just want to play places that are going to be fun,” he says. “At this point in my career, it’s just about having fun.”
When Luke Bryan performed with Heidi Newfield at Trails West! in St. Joseph in 2009, he was still on his soaring path to country stardom. Heck, you could say he was still on that path a year ago. But as he headlines the second night of the Flatlands festival on Sept. 13, he’ll know he’s reached the top of the mountain.
Bryan is in the midst of a big year in which both of his new singles, “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind of Night,” have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts. This, of course, came on the heels of his success with the 2011 album “Tailgates & Tanlines,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums and No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
But what makes Bryan standout among his country peers is his devotion to crafting a fun, unpredictable live show. Bryan grew up playing in college bars, and he’s never stopped tailoring music to work in wild environments.
“It’s a rocking country show,” he says. “There’s a lot of up-tempos, and I just try to keep it fun and keep the crowd busy.”
Like Bryan, Lambert skyrocketed after her performance in the St. Joseph area (she played the Amelia Earhart Festival Lakefest event in Atchison, Kan., in 2008), when she was merely a “Nashville Star” alum with one good album — 2005’s “Kerosene” — to her name. In the last five years, she has become the hottest female star in the genre, tallying 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance.
During that time, she also has recorded six platinum-selling or No. 1 hits with “Gunpowder & Lead,” “White Liar,” “The House That Built Me,” “Heart Like Mine,” “Over You” and, recently, “Mama’s Broken Heart.” Two years ago, she also started the beloved country music supergroup Pistol Annies with 2013 Trails West! headliner Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley.
Despite the slew of hits she’s created, Lambert says she has the most fun when she’s throwing the audience a few curveballs.
“I like to throw in a few covers to mix things up and surprise folks a little here and there,” she says.
FLATLANDS FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Thursday, Sept. 12 (free show)
7 p.m. — The Jared Daniels Band
8:45 p.m. — Kevin Fowler
10:30 p.m. — Charlie Daniels Band
Friday, Sept. 13
2:15 p.m. — Drew Six
3:30 p.m. — Kevin Fowler
5 p.m. — Thompson Square
6:45 p.m. — Rodney Atkins
8:30 p.m. — Darius Rucker
10:30 p.m. — Luke Bryan
Saturday, Sept. 14
2:15 p.m. — Travis Marvin
3:30 p.m. — J.T. Hodges
5 p.m. — Love and Theft
6:45 p.m. — Kellie Pickler
8:30 p.m. — Miranda Lambert
10:30 p.m. — Toby Keith
— Artists who will perform at the Sprint Plaza Stage outside the stadium after the festival ends each night
Shea Conner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.