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Country Thunder 2007, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin  
Concert Review/Photos By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Contributing Journalist

Shadow Hill Ranch in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, was once again graced with the presence of many talented country artists and thousands of dedicated fans.

This year’s Country Thunder started off the right way, with a little 70’s influence, when Shevy Smith took the stage putting everything she had into some cuts from her sophomore album, September Songs. Williams and Ree gave the crowd a few laughs before Kellie Pickler and Steve Holy performed a few of their fan favorites including Pickler’s “I Wonder” and “Red High Heels” as well as Holy’s hit single, the amusing “Brand New Girlfriend.” Trace Adkins and Reba McEntire, the headliners for Wednesday night, performed a few slow ones but kept the crowd interested despite the weather’s effort to put a damper on their shows.

Day two began with Brian Stace, originally from Wisconsin but now living in Nashville, and The Road Hammers, a group of four guys from Canada who sing songs about life on the road and the experiences each day brings. “I’m a Road Hammer,” the most requested song on Sirius satellite radio, will be released as a single in the US on September 14. Luke Bryan, who proved his potential when he co-wrote Billy Currington’s “Good Directions,” impressed a lot of people with his set that included his single “All My Friends Say.” The young, brilliant mind which co-wrote Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy,” Sarah Buxton, performed her version of that as well as my favorite of hers, “Innocence,” which is about being young and in love. Buxton has a bit of a raspy voice, which is just enough to make her lyrics and melodies stand out from other country singers, in a positive way.

When Chris Young, the Nashville Star winner from 2006, entered the stage this year, it was not completely new to him. Young opened for Chris LeDoux a few years ago. Aside from his tune “Drinkin’ Me Lonely,” Young played some more enthusiastic songs to prepare the crowd for the night ahead. Next, Trick Pony put on a great show before Keith Anderson pumped up the crowd with his original version of “Beer Run” and Big and Rich’s number one hit that he wrote, “Lost In This Moment.” “Wrap Around,” “XXL” and “Podunk” were among his songs as well. 

The night many country fans had been waiting a long time for began when Carrie Underwood took advantage of the spacious stage while smiling and playing the songs that make her better known every time they are heard. Underwood assured fans that they made the right choice by going to see her show that night when she hit every high note, sang the favorites and thanked everyone who has helped her to get where she is today.

Although it was a hard act to follow, Dierks Bentley showed his softer side when he sang “Come a Little Closer” to individual girls near the stage. Girls in “little white tank top[s],” who were scattered throughout Shadow Hill Ranch, went wild when Bentley launched into “What Was I Thinkin’,” a hit from his self-titled album Dierks Bentley.

Bombshel began the third day of Country Thunder 2007 with a few outstanding songs of theirs. The Villebillies, a group that plays music “like you’ve never heard at Country Thunder before,” according to the lead singer, warmed up the stage for Jamie Lee Thurston and Harry Luge. Little Big Town put on a great performance while including songs such as “Bring It On Home” “Good As Gone” and their very popular current single, “A Little More You.” Neal McCoy was full of energy as he sang many of his songs including “The Shake.” Fans were more than happy to see Randy Owen perform Alabama songs up on stage before Martina wrapped up the brisk night on Friday. Beginning her set with “Anyway,” Martina never stopped smiling as she continued her show with “Independence Day,” “How I Feel” and “Wild Angels.”

After “The Race Is On” played during the chair races on Saturday, a great up-and-coming band, “32 Below” took the stage. Great music continued with an awesome set from the PovertyNeck Hillbillies and a few songs from Billy Dean including “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Let Them Be Little,” which he wrote. Rio Grand put on an impressive show before Lorrie Morgan played some old favorites such as “Except for Monday,” while showing off her personalized “LM,” pink guitar strap. After Sawyer Brown’s set, which included quite a few perfect line dancing songs, the pace changed a little at Country Thunder. As the sun set on Twin Lakes, Larry the Cable Guy went out on stage in his usual attire and a guitar. While he told stories, joked and played a few short, funny songs, the crowd listened intently, laughing the majority of the time. If the audience wasn’t already pleased by this time, they would be by the end of the night. Montgomery Gentry played a set that set off tears, smiles and laughter. Bringing out members of the US military during “Something To Be Proud Of,” Montgomery Gentry took the time to recognize a few individual soldiers on stage and thank all of those who fight to protect our country. 

The very last day of “The Big Event” also had an impressive lineup. Michael Scott, who is working on his third album, and Western Underground, Chris LeDoux’s band, tried to find any energy left in these country music fans and bring it to the surface. Jake Owen sang a few tunes from his Startin’ With Me album such as “Yee Haw” and “Startin’ With Me.” Heartland sang the touching father-daughter song, “I Loved Her First,” before Pat Green played a lot of favorites beginning with the quick-paced “Cannonball,” “Baby Doll” and “Feels Just Like It Should.” “Wave On Wave” was one of the last songs he sang before Sugarland’s energy blew the crowd’s minds. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are great together on stage and their songs such as “Settlin’,” “Baby Girl” and “Everyday America” sounded remarkable. Last but not least, Kenny Chesney finished up Country Thunder 2007 with a number of great songs. His energy radiated about him as he consistently moved around the stage. “Young,” “Beer In Mexico” and “Keg In the Closet” were just a few of Chesney’s tunes that caused a whole lot of excitement that day. He attracted quite a crowd; many fans were wearing t-shirts that were made specifically for his songs. 

An event that is safe for the whole family, Country Thunder is fun for everyone. The food, performers, shops and thousands of people combine with other things to make these 5 days some of the best, most memorable days every year. Overall, it was another successful Country Thunder for Twin Lakes, WI and this marks the 15th year that Shadow Hill Ranch hosted “The Big Event.” I believe, without a doubt, that there will be many more years of Country Thunder to follow.

 

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Martina McBride

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Povertyneck Hillbillies

 

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Billy Dean

 

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Rio Grand

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Lorrie Morgan

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Sawyer Brown's Mark Miller

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Montgomery Gentry

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Jake Owen

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Heartland

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Pat Green

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Shevy Smith

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The Road Hammers

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Luke Bryan

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Sarah Bruxton

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Chris Young

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Keith Anderson

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Bomshel

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Little Big Town

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Neil McCoy

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Sugarland

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Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles

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Kenny Chesney

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