The Big Sting 2017 Country Music Festival

Big Sting Music Festival at Watson Lake

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The 3rd Annual Big Sting Music Festival was held at Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona. Showcasing some of Arizona’s top country artists and bands, along with National Headliners. The Big Sting benefits the Shadows Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed to assist families facing life threatening illnesses in Flagstaff.

Country music fans choose between tent or RV camping. All campsites were close to the stage. The event area had vendors, a photo booth, hot dog truck, BBQ truck, and corn hole. Watson Lake provided outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, and fishing. Giving country fans a real taste of what Arizona has to offer.

Friday was filled with live music by Katelyn SnyderShari Rowe, Mogollon, The County Line, and J Michael Harter. A touching part of the night was Mogollon thanking troops by singing a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

Closing out Friday night were Ty Herndon, Wade Hayes featuring D Vincent Williams & Nashville Allstars.  These songwriters brought a piece of Nashville with them. Telling stories through their music. You could feel the raw emotion in the crowd. They mentioned they’re called the AllStars is because each member has played with popular artists.

Saturday’s headliner was National Recording Country Artist Rodney Atkins. Prior to his set, he spoke to us about what to expect from his upcoming album and how he feels about country music in general.

What is the song you are most proud of?

“Watching You just got named as the most played song of the decade. That’s crazy. It’s unbelievable. I’ve always tried to be conscious of timelessness in songs. So they’re relevant and relatable. Hopefully 30 years from now people will still be talking about that song. The great ones, they’re timeless and that’s a tough thing. That’s the goal.”

Tell us something about your new album.

“Takes me 5 years to do records. I’m not trying to follow a fad. We’re finishing up the brand-new album. It will hit people in the same exact way (as songs like “Take a Back Road”). I wanted to pull off the road, write songs, and make them special. You try to find those songs too that are going to pull you down and something to pull you up. Cause being human is that. You make mistakes, you fall down. Then you get back up.

It’s not just to have hits. There are some songs that get inside of you. It does it to me every single night. I’m not lying, it does that to me. I find this higher power shining down every night. It’s real. I believe that some of those songs are divine coming down. Watching everyone I feel that way too.”

Are you amazed when people know your music and sing it back to you on stage?

“When they are singing all the words and smiling. When there are album cuts that haven’t been out there. When people are singing every word to those songs. They’ve done their homework. They’ve listened to stuff.”

The Big Sting benefits the Shadows Foundation, what does it mean to you to be involved in a music festival like this?

“You want to have hits. But it’s so you be involved where people are helping other people. If we’re not in service somehow, it’s a miserable life. It’s when we get to be a part of things together. It’s the ultimate compliment when an organization ask you to help them to do their services. It’s awesome, I love it. I love being a part of it.”

What is one thing you have always stuck to as an artist?

“The People. That’s why you do what you do. Everyone you meet, every email you get. It’s the people. Period. I could have never done this when I first started out. I was too shy. I just wanted to write songs. When you realize we’re doing this together. you’re doing something for them. With them.”

Atkins was joined by The County Line, Katelyn Snyder, J Michael Harter, Calvin Rainwater, Ryan Bexley, The Cole Trains featuring Ryan Bexley, Drew Cooper, and Tim Hurley. 

The Cole Train’s paid tribute to Tom Petty. Singing of the most well known Petty hits, “You Don’t Know How it Feels.” Many of the artists showcased their new music, including The County Line, “Tennessee Whiskey, The Grass isn’t Greener,” Ryan Bexley’s, “Go and Call Your Girls Up,” and Mongollon “Southern Ways.”

The Big Sting 2017 has proven this event is a music festival full of good people, music, food, all while benefiting a great cause. To find out more about The Big Sting music festival or how to help the Shadows Foundation, check out their websites at www.TheBigSting.com and www.ShadowsFoundation.com

See you next year at The Big Sting 2018