A quick flashback to just over a year ago:
I strolled into the studio on a beautiful Monday morning. I was still working the afternoon drive with QX104, so I had a few hours to kill. I spent it in the kitchen with hot water, lemon, throat lozenges, and anything else I thought would help get my voice at least halfway back to normal for a 4 hour show. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I hopped on air at 2pm, did one “talk break” that was more like a “frog break”, ran out of the room and asked Al to cover for me. He did so, while I worked the front desk. I learned my lesson. No workey after Countryfest. So, this year I took a week off afterwards to go camping with the family. The vacation wrap was done in part 1 of my holiday blogs, you can read that here. Today, we go onto part two, which is a 10 point summary of Manitoba’s biggest music country music festival!
My experience at C-Fest:
1)It took a week of hum-hawing, but I finally came to the conclusion that the Zac Brown Band was THE best concert I have ever seen. They surpassed Tom Petty, U2, Motley Crue, and the Hip. I’ve seen a ton of concerts in my day, but never has a show been as complete as this one. It had every aspect to make it a classic. Each musician in the group is the best the band could find at their instrument. The fiddle player was unreal, the bongo drummer could bongo like nobody’s business, the lead guitarist was a typical lead guitarist but on musical steroids, the other drummer can rival Garth's talent, and then there’s Zac Brown. What a talent. The entire band was throwing southern country, to rock, to 4 part harmonies, to blues; the stage was the Disneyworld of music. Another thing that added to the element of the show was how interactive with the crowd the entire band was. Notice how I’m not singling out Zac Brown himself. It’s because the entire show was never about just Zac Brown. The only difference between he and the other members of the band is that he happens to be the lead singer and the main face, but he doesn’t act like it. Even the “meet and greet” before hand included every member of ZBB…shaking hands was like doing roll call in elementary school (maybe an exaggeration, but there were 7 of them). Even on the stage, Zac introduced the member twice, had each one of them showcased at least once, and let them lead the songs a few times. And finally, the most significant part of the show was the fact that this was his first Canadian stop…EVER. You could see it in his eyes when he walked onto the stage. He did not expect the crowd to be what it was. The energy Dauphin gave him, he took in and gave back. You wouldn’t have had to have been a Zac Brown fan to enjoy the show, but you may have walked away becoming one.
2)QX Nation was out in full force. From the moment I arrived on Wednesday afternoon until the moment I left Monday morning, our campsite was a flow of people. We teamed up with our sister station from Brandon, 101.1 The Farm, in an effort to bring in as much staff for more exposure and the ability to serve our listeners better. Even with the numerous people working the campsite, we still weren’t able to approach everyone as much as we wanted to. My diet should have consisted of more Red Bull. I had the chance to meet so many amazing people, loyal QX fans, the casual country listener, and intense party people. For those that donated a beer bong to my liver, I say thank you. For those who came by when I wasn’t there, I apologize. From artist interviews, to the shows, to touring the campgrounds for video, it was a full weekend of work…but the best kind of work you could ask for. Thank you to QX Nation for making us feel like part of your family.
3)Cam and Sherri. I had a high school buddy and his fiancée stay in the camper with me up at Countryfest. First off, it was a blast to be able to spend time with the happy couple (especially since I will be Co-MC’ing his wedding in a month and needed some material). Secondly, they were a huge help around the campground. Cam said by the end of the weekend he was going feel ill everytime he heard the song “Red Solo Cup”. We were unloading box after box after box of cups along with box after box after box of hats. At about 3:30am Sunday night/Monday morning, Cam said someone was banging on the door of the camper yelling for a hat. They had a firsthand glimpse of the craziness that goes on in Dauphin…and loved every minute of it
4)Gong show! I think that’s the best way to sum up the lower campground. From sites that were set up like the “Cheers” set from the tv show to other sites that resembled the Brady Landfill, there was no shortage of entertainment. Unfortunately, due to our schedule, I only got a chance to tour the campground once. During our walk we managed to pass by guys in women’s underwear, a few people who were having middle of the road naps, and a river jam packed with bikinis, speedos, and even weird tuxedos. One day my cousin showed up at the QX104 campsite dressed up in a blazer with no shirt, a cowboy hat, and an eye patch. I was worried that he lost all of his clothes and hit the lost and found, but apparently it was done by choice. These kind of choices pretty much sum up the attitude around Countryfest; no one will judge because everyone has the same mindset, so do whatever you please.
5)Artist access that rivals the best festivals in the world. Here’s a glimpse of who we were able to interview: Jerrod Neimann, Justin Moore, Dallas Smith, Aaron Pritchett, Pear, Jimmy Rankin, Clayton Bellamy, Keith and Renee, Marlee Scott, Tara Oram, Codie Prevost, etc. We even had “meet and greets” with a few of the artists right at the campsite. Highlights of these interviews: Codie Prevost doing an acoustic show at the campsite, Dallas Smith being awesome as always, Aaron Pritchett been friendlier than a Manitoba license plate, Jerrod Neimann showing us how to party, Justin Moore’s sweet tour bus, Clayton Bellamy with Chris Fantini and Jonathan Best nearly making me drop the camera laughing so hard, and every single artist being as outgoing and genuine as they could possibly be. Since we did most of the interviews in one of our campers without air conditioning, we all managed to glisten with sweat on the camera. If you haven’t see any of the “chats”, you can do so right on the site. By the way, I found out Aaron Pritchett used to DJ at a country bar in Pitt Meadows that I used to frequent around the same time...and he’s the cousin of an old boss of mine. Man, it’s a small world.
6)The Countryfest staff. From security guards, to the backstage crew, to the waitresses in the VIP area, every employee that I walked by had a massive smile on their face and would quickly help you with whatever you needed. The will call ladies were constantly being approached but never showed a sign of stress. Every security guard did their job with a calm demeanor even though they’re mostly dealing with people who have had one too many cold ones. In fact, one of the security guards, Cody, was a pro. He stuck around our campsite for most of the weekend just to ensure that when the artists came by everyone could have fun comfortably. Cody was aces. The whole C-fest staff was aces. I’d argue that there isn’t a festival in the world who hires better employees.
7)The weather. You can thank me for this. Both times I have been to Countryfest, the sun has been shining along with the beer flowing. That’s right sunscreen makers, you can thank me...so can you every guy who talks about all of the girls in bikinis. If you’re wanting sunshine again next year, you better be hoping I go (I just jinxed it didn’t I). The only negative was the few people who may been affected by heat stroke, like this guy. Too much work with too much play combined with too much sun, made for a really hot Brody, and not the good kind of hot. Unfortunately, I had to miss Reba’s show because I could barely move. It was about mid-afternoon on Sunday when all of a sudden the nausea and the heat wave hit me. Thankfully, Mom and Dad were on site. I have an issue with stopping myself from doing things...meaning, I don’t have an “off” button. So, if I am in a working environment, I will continue working until I am satisfied (which rarely happens). The only person who has complete control over me and knows how to put me in my place is my Mom. Let’s just say she did exactly that. It took me two days to get over the heat stroke and exhaustion. Next year I’m going to hire my Mom as my personal secretary.
8)Outside entertainment. I managed to lose in a sumo wrestling competition against our very own Vicki Shae. I’m still convinced she took PED’s beforehand considering she wasn’t willing to do a urine sample. There’s no way a girl that’s a couple feet over five is able to knock down my muscular self repeatedly (ha, couldn’t keep a straight face there). I also managed to go for a bull ride. I think training at the Ranch Saloon has started to pay off since I lasted longer than 5 seconds...although I still have to work on my landing (see picture).
9)QX104 Staff and friends. I didn’t think we could possibly be busier than last year. I was dead wrong. This year was nonstop action. Thankfully, we had a staff that was eager to work and even more excited to party. Kimberley Dawn (and her friend Kari), Jonathan Best, Vicki Shae, Janessa (tweet fleet), Chris Fantini (Hot 103), Darcie (101.1 The Farm and her trio of gals), all stayed at the campsite (some only for a night or two) and all put on a party for those who swung by. I feel blessed to work with what I consider the best staff radio can by. Next year’s goal: Bring 1 Samantha Stevens to the bash...but keep her wine bong at home. Oh, and Kelly Berehulka, you're awesome. Sorry I was usually swamped when you swung by and sorry again for not coming to your campsite for the 2nd year in a row. Brody fail.
10)Kenny and Sherry, Rob and Shelly: Pairs of awesome. Kenny is the man you see on the stage throughout Countryfest...those host with the most. Can you imagine trying to entertain 15,000 people from 1pm-1am 3 days in a row? You’d be exhausted. Well that’s exactly what Kenny does, but the best part is he does it with a smile on his face and an enthusiasm unmatched. Plus, he’s always hilarious backstage, which is an added bonus. Sherry is the brains behind Kenny’s face. It doesn’t sound scientifically possible, but it’s true. Sherry helps Kenny organize his hectic schedule while managing the people he brings on stage (like us goofs). In many ways, these two are the face of C-fest. Meanwhile, Rob is the most un-thanked man at the festival by far...not by the staff or by the folks behind Countryfest (they all love him), but by us, the country music fan. He is responsible for all of the bookings, dealing with the artists, and basically everything else under the “operations” of Countryfest. Rob = Mayor of Countryfest (ooooh, I wonder if he’ll get into a water park debate there). Meanwhile, Shelly has a similar role of Kenny’s Sherry. She’s stuck in the backstage office surrounded by computers, binders, and C-fest staff, while occasionally being harassed by radio personalities who enjoy air conditioning (no names but it may start with a B and end in Jackson). My hat is off to these four and the head honchos who put on an incredible festival.
Dauphin Countryfest. If you haven't been, I urge you to go. If you went this year and came by to say hello, thank you for doing so. If I missed ya, I hope to see you next year. Thanks for making this year extra special! And a special thanks to all of the QX104 listeners who were tweeting at me, facebooking me, and e-mailing me throughout the event and afterwards...I have bonus photos because of you!