It has taken several days to recover from True North’s Road to the Country Stampede (the behind the scenes work) and maybe a few more from heat exhaustion! All I can say is Saturday was HOT, with a 105° F heat index on stage. The band cannot thank our friend/ fans enough for braving the heat, show delays and sticking around to listen to True North on a sweltering day at the Country Stampede. Special thanks to 94.5 FM Country and Amber Rome for giving True North fans refreshments, a breather of cool air in the 94.5 Country trailer and allowing fans to hang out in the VIP area to better view True North on stage!
The band left Valley Falls at 8:30 AM Saturday since we were scheduled to sound check Main Stage 11:30 AM. The guys and crew were fortified with a healthy breakfast casserole and fresh fruit before we hit the road. It was another entertaining caravan to the Stampede with jokes all around. When we arrived and checked in with Stage Managers Chris & Ken, we discovered Montgomery Gentry, the headline act was late…so late in fact MG’s equipment bus did not arrive until 11:30 AM, past sound check time. The Stampede staff runs a tight, scheduled ship on the Main Stage, so one can image tensions were running high backstage with the delay of the headline performer.
For those you who attended the Stampede Saturday and were curious about what was going on backstage: It seemed the whole stage area (and crew) was in complete chaos as MG attempted to load additional light rigging and extensive platforms/ equipment…literally taking up 75% of the 40 x 110 foot stage! The Stampede Staff was excellent in keeping True North informed with status updates of when we might set up, but it seemed time drug and it got later and later in the afternoon. The band was thankful to have time to relax in the air conditioned backstage trailer, but the majority of the band’s time was spent in the wings of the stage (sweating like crazy) so when we received word to go on, the band could quickly grab gear and instruments and get on stage.
As it approached 1:45 PM, well past True North’s performance slot, there was discussion about cutting True North entirely out of the lineup because of the lateness of the headline act. I am glad we were not cut, but it was a possibility. True North was not the only band impacted, several following acts such as The Band Perry & Eli Young Band had to cut time off sets also. My observation watching goings on back stage: There seemed to be a displeasure with the headliner’s lateness and a general dislike for how the headliner’s staff were conducting themselves; everyone was trying to get along, but there was an air of frustration…maybe it was the heat.
About 2:05 PM, True North received word we were to go on for a 40 minute set vs. our hour set; the band and crew kicked it into high gear placing equipment on stage, setting signals for instruments and attempting to get a general monitor mix. Despite the delays and having to conduct one of the most rapid set-ups the band has ever done, True North came through with flying colors. Personally, I do not know many bands that could set up, be ready to play and sound great, on the fly, in 20 minutes! Thank goodness for the awesomely professional sound engineers at the front/ back of stage boards and Special K’s fantastic mixing ability; otherwise who knows what sounds might have come out of that big PA! Despite all the insanity, the experience of playing a second set on the Main Stage was phenomenal and the 94.5 video crew captured great footage of the band performing on the JumboTron!
I am extremely proud of the band for the level of professionalism exhibited back stage at the Stampede. We could have been difficult to work with or grumpy about the delays, but everyone conducted himself in professional manner when speaking with the crew, staff and sound engineers (yes, we are a class act!). A number of Stampede Staff, 94.5 Country personalities and stage crew were extremely complimentary of True North, both for our professionalism and incredible sound on stage. We had a number of individuals state “True North was my favorite band to work with at the Stampede” and “You guys have an incredibly polished, original sound.” Hearing those props made everyone’s day and made the experience of playing on the Main Stage at Country Stampede memorable. While on stage it was great to look into the VIP section and out at the fans and see everyone singing along and cheering for True North. One of my favorite moments was looking up stage left at the Poser Deck seating and seeing Dillon, Devon, Trent & Ben jamming along to the tunes. Top Highlight moment: Receiving the 94.5 Country & Golden Eagle Road to the Country Stampede Trophy on stage, on the JumboTron…AMAZING!
After we ran off stage, the band headed to the Artist Merchandise tent to sign CDs, take photos and sell Tees. We had a number of new faces and people who really dug our music. It was fun interacting with new fans and seeing the Trifecta’s fly. No one seemed to care we were disgusting from the heat…fans wanted photos and hugs anyway! We later headed over to our vehicle sponsor, Briggs Auto Group, for a visit and hanging out in the shade!
There was additional press about True North’s Stampede performance in the Topeka Capital Journal and Manhattan Mercury. I also had a five-minute, on air interview about True North with Scott Walker, afternoon DJ at Y93.7 Country, Salina, KS. It was fun talking about True North’s music, band members and original music on the radio.
Applause Sounds Good to Audiologist by Bill Blankenship
Area Band Hopes Stampede Leads to It’s Big Break by Brad Dornes
True North hopes everyone has a safe and fun 4th of July and holiday weekend. True North will be back on the road with performances coming up at the Brown County Fair, Thursday, July 15, 8 PM and Amelia Earhart Festival, Saturday, July 17, 5-7:30 PM. We will have tees, tanks, the True North Trifecta (Dimestore, Dashboard, Live) available for sale at upcoming shows, come grab yourself CD for your summer listening pleasure. —Will Gladhart