The third and final day of Country Thunder Florida went off without the technical issues of the day before. Everyone in attendance loved the beautiful weather and the live music that was delivered from the main stage. The crowd shuffled in as before but on this day the numbers were greater for the earlier acts and much greater numbers were present for the night’s headliner.
There were plenty of food and beverage varieties and locations, and plenty of restroom receptacles to accommodate the large number of fans inside the festival. Country Thunder knows what they are doing when it comes to putting on a three-day country music festival. Look at all the happy faces in the crowd gallery pictures!
Crowd Images by Toni J Horan
Chase Matthew started the final day of the festival at 1:00pm. Matthew and his band cleared the cobwebs from the heads of the weary and maybe hung over crowd with a powerful set. Previously to being a country music singer, Chase Matthew was a in deed a rapper.
“County Line” off Matthew’s debut EP received over 39 million views on YouTube rocketing him to a fantastic start to his career. Then he followed in 2022 with his first LP, Born For This.
His performance was very entertaining to start out the day.
Following Chase Matthew was Tracy Byrd who has charted over 30 hit singles with 11 top ten hits during his 31 year career. Byrd’s catalog includes ten studio albums and two greatest hits albums with four of those albums going gold and one double platinum. Tracy Byrd is a true country music artist without the rock n roll crossover that is so prevalent today. His set was a pleasure to listen to.
Parmalee took the Country Thunder stage at 4:00pm. The band consists of brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, Cousin Barry Knox, and childhood friend Josh McSwain since they got together in 2012. Parmalee has amassed three number one singles with two more singles reaching the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. Their set was just getting started and it seemed that it ended too soon.
Matt Thomas -Lead Vocals, Guitar
Scott Thomas – Drums
Barry Knox – Bass
Josh McSwain – Guitar
Next to take the stage was Bailey Zimmerman. I believe Zimmerman represents the changing of the guard in country music. His career began on TikTok in 2020 and since then, he has amassed three number one hits on US country airplay and Billboard’s Canadian country chart with hits, “Fall in Love,” “Rock and a Hard Place,” and “Religiously.” Zimmerman has been nominated by the Academy of Country Music Awards for New Male Artist of the Year after his debut album, Religiously. The Album, which was released on May 12, 2023.
Bailey Zimmerman’s energy in his live show is unparalleled. He takes the stage at a sprint, and goes full speed from the beginning to the end of his show. It naturally draws you in as his smile is infectious. I found his performance the single most memorable of the entire three days of the festival.
Carly Pearce graced the stage as the skies darkened as evening turned into night. With three studio albums, the Country Music Association Awards Female Vocalist of the Year in 2021, Academy of Country Music Awards Female Artist of the Year in 2022, and induction into The Grand Ole Opry in 2021, what more can this country artist achieve? Well, how about a Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance that she won with Ashley McBryde. Carly Pearce is a powerhouse performer loaded with talent and her show just radiates a seasoned artist with fierce elegance on stage.
The evening and the festival ended with four-time Grammy winner, Keith Urban. He was the artist everyone in attendance had been waiting for. Urban is a celebrity as he was also a judge on American Idol’s seasons 12 & 13 to add to his resume of 11 studio albums with 37 singles charting on US Hot Country Songs chart, with 18 of them going to number one, Keith Urban is a country music super star.
The grounds were packed with estimates of 15,000 in attendance. The show started wiyh a single white spotlight shining down from above the stage illuminating only Urban on the stage as he opened the show with “Wild Hearts.” The crowd just exploded, and Keith Urban went on and delivered an outstanding show. This was the performance and performer that the fans will take with them and remember until next year when Country Thunder makes its way back to Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida.
Although the lineup for 2023’s Country Thunder Florida was a bit anemic of huge names in country music, the turnout was modest, and Country Thunder ran a great festival and the facility could have accommodated twice the crowd that actually attended. However, it’s always wonderful to see new artists on their way to having great careers and being able to say, “I remember when they played Country Thunder Florida.”
Everyone in attendance appeared to be having a great time during this three-day festival without thinking about what had happened earlier in the month at a festival across the globe. Thank God we live in the greatest country in the world and we can gather together enjoying each other’s company in a community setting.
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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.