Day two of Country Thunder got underway an hour earlier than the day before. The weather was like the first day of the festival with a promise of being a few degrees warmer. The few degrees warmer didn’t really matter as the cloud cover was heavier which made it cooler in the shade. None the less, it was a beautiful day for a country music festival. The gates opened at noon, and after the initial push from those waiting in line, the fans trickled in and found their places in front of the stage.
It was Saturday and the lineup had promised to be a great day! Look at all these happy faces!
Crowd Images by Toni J Horan
To kick off day two, The Washboard Union started the festival at 1:00pm. Everything was fine and the band was going through their first song, and then bam, out went the power. Within seconds, the band reacted and brought their acoustic instruments down into the crowd halfway down the walkway and kept performing. The fans, understanding the band was on the clock cheered them on. The Washboard Union kept performing for about a half hour without power. When the power was finally restored, and they finished their set. Being a photographer, we must leave after the first three songs. Buy, we extended our time as it was hard to tell the beginning or end of any song because we couldn’t hear anything.
The Washboard Union appeared to be a country/bluegrass band and I was very interested to be entertained with some great country music, but it wasn’t to be.
David Roberts – Washboard
Aaron Grain (aka Brett Ellis) – Guitar
Chris Duncombe – Banjo
Brendan Krieg – Drums
Evan Bates – Bass
Craig McCaul – Guitar
James Baldwin – Guitar
As everything settled down and it appeared the electrical problems were behind us, The Reklaws came on stage at 2:15pm. The set times were shorter at the beginning of the day to accommodate an extra band on the bill, making Saturday a seven-band show. This Canadian duo of siblings, Jenna and Stuart Walker, brought a ton energy to the stage. With charting eight top ten hits on Canadian country radio over the past eight years, and three number one singles, this brother and sister duo had the crowd from the first note. Their set was high energy and a lot of fun, getting the party started!
Jenna Walker – Vocals
Stuart Walker- Vocals
The program was running about 15 minutes behind after the power outage, but at around 3:45, the electric Hailey Whitters burst on stage dressed in a Little Bo Peep outfit with huge sunglasses. She was very cute and quite a spectacle to see. Whitters got started writing songs for Alan Jackson and Little Big Town. Her initial full length album Black Sheep was released in 2015. Her breakout came in 2022 with the release of the album Raised, which went platinum. In 2023 Whitters won the Country Music Association Awards, ” New Female Artist of the Year.”
Hailey Whitters is a powerhouse artist and you can’t help but smile as she performs. Hailey was born to sing country music performing in front of thousands of people.
The fun continued with Cooper Alan as he used every inch of the stage as he ran back and forth. But then it happened again, a power outage and everything went silent. Alan was out out on the runway and he sprinted back to the stage a grabbed an acoustic guitar. Heading out the walkway again into the crowd, he started taking song requests and it turned into an impromptu singalong. It was a brilliant move, and he wasn’t going to waste any of his time standing around. The power returned quickly, and he never skipped a beat as he transitioned back to the electric performance.
After graduating college at UNC Chapel Hill, Alan was lost and wanted to perform in 2020 but the pandemic wouldn’t allow it. His girlfriend mentioned he should get on TikTok, and there, two of his songs ended up going viral and a star was born.
Cooper Alan’s performance was fun and infectious, and the audience loved it at Country Thunder Florida. This young man has a bright future in country music or whatever he chooses to do. He really puts his heart and soul into it. Just put him on a stage and watch him go.
The next band on the main stage was Lonestar at roughly 5:45pm. Lonestar was founded in 1992, and has had 20 singles that have charted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, with 9 reaching number one. The line up has changed over the years, but Lonestar is a well-seasoned band and their show was solid, not flashy, but solid.
Drew Womack – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Michael Britt – Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals
Dean Sams – Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, harmonica, Background Vocals
Randy “Keech” Rainwater – Drums
Night had descended and the stage lighting had taken over from the sun. It was about 8:15pm and it was time for Kip Moore to take the stage. Moore is a Georgia native who moved to Nashville after living in a hut surfing in Hawaii in 2004. Moore was nominated for the Country Music Association Awards, New Artist of the Year in 2013 and again in 2014. He is also up for “International Artist Achievement Award” in 2023.
Kip Moore’s stage lighting was a mixture of blue and purple lights making photography challenging. The set had energy and the stage production was very good.
Hardy’s first album The Rock was released in 2020. His second album The Mockingbird & the Crow, was released this year, 2023. The remarkable note is that in 2021, Hardy played in the late-night tent at Country Thunder called Electric Thunder, which is a place music fans could go after the festival to continue to dance the night away to the wee hours of the morning. It’s extremely rare to go from there to being the headliner in just two years.
Hardy’s talent has never been in question, he has star quality. What really stood out to me, was that I had seen him perform just five months previously at another festival. What I took away from that performance was how his cursing and rude behavior did not fit into the genre of country music, which is usually centered around God and country. He was more like an artist you would see at a rap show.
This Saturday night at Country Thunder Florida, Hardy cleaned up his show and it was a pleasure to watch his performance.
1.) The Downfall of Us All (A Day to Remember Song)
2.) The mockingbird & THE CROW
3.) KILL SH!T TILL I DIE
7.) ONE BEER
9.) A ROCK
10.) GIVE HEAVEN SOME HELL
11.) RADIO SONG
12.) THE REDNECK SONG
13.) More Than My Hometown (Morgan Wallen cover)
14.) Sand in My Boots (Morgan Wallen cover)
16.) wait in the truck
18.) God’s Country (Blake Shelton cover)
19.) UNAPOLOGETICALLY COUNTRY AS HELL
20.) TRUCK BED
22.) SOLD OUT
Two days in the books for Country Thunder Florida. It was a beautiful day without incident and everyone in attendance appeared to be having a perfect concert experience. Aside from the two electrical issues, the festival was run flawlessly.
To check out Day One’s coverage, click HERE
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Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.