The Oro Valley Music Festival may be considered to still be in its infancy. The third year proved that the event keeps getting bigger and better. The Tucson ‘iHeart’ radio stations,” 97.1 the Bull” sponsored Saturday’s lineup with an all country day while ‘iHeart’ “my92.9 “ covered Sunday’s lineup with popular music day. The bottom line: This was one of the most fun festivals ever.
The festival site was at the Golf Club at Vistoso, The weather was warm, breezy, and dry for the two days. The golf course in front of the stage was filled with booths encircling the field with merchandise, food, drink, and vendors advertising everything from cars, insurance, loans, local resorts, and college basketball. The attendance increased from last year to greater than 10,000 for the weekend.
Saturday started with Oro Valley local singer, Kaylor Cox. Kaylor and her band gave the bourgeoning crowd a lively set to get the festival started. Kaylor also opened last year’s festival. Kaylor confirmed with AXS that she plans to move to Nashville on December 29 to broaden her career as a singer-songwriter.
Florida homegirl, Brooke Eden, followed Kaylor with a-rockin' set that featured her hit single “Daddy’s Money.” Brooke was an engaging, energetic and polished entertainer.
One may remember Jana Kramer from her acting on One Tree Hill as Alex Dupre or as the fourth place winner on Dancing With The Stars in 2016. Jana Kramer took the stage and her energy was boundless as she delivered a lively set.
As Michael Ray stormed on the stage, the fans in the crowd went crazy. He has been clearing a path for himself while writing hit records for Big & Rich and Jerrod Niemann. He has a strong, deep voice as well as very pleasing personality and appearance. “Get To You” is his most recent single record.
One could say that the Brothers Osborne stole the show for the day. Many fans said just that. TJ Osborne gave strong, baritone vocals while brother John shredded slide guitar with blues, country, southern rock, and some jazz influences. Their set was amazing and left the crowd clamoring for more, much more.
The final set for the night was a country superstar, Lee Brice. The burly former football player displayed his winning personality on stage as well as off stage. Brice loves to perform. His first success in Nashville was as a songwriter. He wrote a debuting Billboard number one song for Garth Brooks in 2007. Tonight’s show was filled with hits including “Drinking Class” and “I Drive Your Truck.” Brice paid homage to the military in the crowd. It was apparent that Brice excels as a singer and a songwriter.
Sunday was as good if not better than Saturday. The Rich Berra Band rocked out during the first set. The indie-rock band, Echosmith, followed up with siblings Sydney, Noah, and Graham Sierota offering new songs from their new EP as well as their hit song “Cool Kids.” Sydney is the lead singer and spokesperson for the group. They will be embarking on a headlining tour in the spring of 2018.
Country superstar LeAnn Rimes took the stage with all the bluster and bounce that one could muster during midday in Arizona. Rimes seemed to be enjoying the set as much as the thousands of fans that had gathered on the golf course. She sang a lot of her old hits with new arrangements. Her latest album release, Remnants, provided material for the set. It’s hard to believe that she has been singing professionally for 20 years.
Activist Michael Franti and Spearhead easily had the most powerful performance of the day. Franti is not a hitmaker, but his reputation as a dynamic, feel-good performer has made him a Tucson favorite live performer. His shows are as positive as they come. Franti has no fear as he delves into the crowds singing, shaking hands and sharing hugs with everyone along the way. He made three trips into the crowd during his set. His new single “Once A Day” was created to inspire people who are going through challenging times. Franti is truly a performer ‘for the people.’
Piano man Gavin DeGraw had the task to follow up Franti and he did it with aplomb. He played many of his hits like “Chariot,” “Best I Ever Had,” and “Sweeter.” The Billboard platinum top-ranked singer-songwriter delivered a top notched set that pulled the fans into his world. DeGraw kept the impetus going for the final act of the night, Train.
Pat Monahan of Train burst on the stage ready to show everyone else ahead of him how to do it. Train has been churning out hit records for 20 years. There was a two-year hiatus during that time. The band has changed faces over time. The sound is as rich as ever and Monahan’s vocals are powerfully endowed as ever. Monahan is all over the stage and he multitasks never missing a note. He took lots of selfies with the crowd on both sides of the stage.
One of the highlights of the set was when San Francisco ‘homie’, Michael Franti, joined him to perform “Save Me, San Francisco.” Each performer was trying to outdo the other. It was all in fun and it was fun for everyone.
The Oro Valley Music Festival producers will take a short break and then they will be planning the fourth year of the Oro Valley Music Festival. There is no rest for the weary.