Twin Cities Summer Jam Ends Just As Perfectly As It Began


Well, I’ve somehow made it to day three of the Twin Cities Summer Jam. Although exhausted, there’s still no sunburn which, if you know me, is a feat (knock on wood). Although I went into this festival a bit pessimistic because I knew nothing about majority of the acts playing, I’m a bit sad that it will be my last day at this event. Thankfully, this even ended strong with a killer lineup on Saturday full of more amazing acts.

Saturday kicked off with The Fabulous Armadillos. Co-fronted by the Twin Cities one and only Chris Hawkey, this band got the day started off right with a set full of amazing covers. Everything from a P!nk song to a stunning rendition of Fleetwood Mac, this band hit all of the right notes. Both Chris and his co-vocalist truly shined throughout their set whie not ignoring their impressive band made up of local superstars. Although I’m not typically one for cover bands, The Fabulous Armadillos have my attention and I definitely wouldn’t be bummed if I happened to find myself at one of their other shows. Also, before moving on, I’d just like to give Chris Hawkey some mad credit. Not only did he perform an amazing set, he’s the mastermind behind this festival. He was very gracious as he thanked the audience and made it clear that, as long people want it, he will continue to put on this amazing festival. Chris, I’m not a huge fan of country music but I, for one, would love to see this festival continue and can’t wait to see what you have in store for next year.

Following The Fabulous Armadillo’s opening set was a stunning track from country-pop artist Niko Moon. Niko’s vocals shined brightly as he played through both originals and a medley of tracks that he had written for some of the biggest superstars in the country scene. Although I feel like the audience wasn’t super familiar with Niko’s name, they quickly warmed up to his music and overall sound creating a perfect atmosphere to keep the energy high as the sun shined down on everyone in the quickly growing audience.

Ashley McBryde was third up on the mainstage. I thought I had heard of Ashley McBryde but that was just due to the likeness in last name to Martina McBride (although there is no relation there). Ashley’s set was a bit more subdued than any other set I caught over the weekend but that didn’t mean her authentic talent didn’t shine. Although most songs were a bit slower and more tender, the audience was still just as attentive to her main stage set as they were the others although there were times where the roar of the thousands of fans drowned out Ashley’s beautiful vocals.

Capping off the night and this festival was the almighty Zac Brown Band. I have had the honor of catching this band before and it’s always such a treat with Saturday night being no different. A perfect blend of a little bit of rock, a little bit of jam, a hint of country and a whole lot of soul, The Zac Brown Band had the audience singing and dancing their way into the moonlight. Playing nearly twenty songs and a mix of both originals and covers (including a super great Metallica “Enter Sandman” cover and an absolutely flawless cover of Sir Elton John’s “Rocketman”, I loved how, yet again, as an outsider to this country-based world, i felt at home because of the set list.

Twin Cities Summer Jam was not one of those events that I was super excited about if I’m being quite honest. The line-up was not exactly my typical cup of tea and I figured I would know nobody there and would know none of the songs. A mix of bumping into some friends and hearing some familiar covers made me realize that, although on paper this festival wasn’t for me, when push came to shove, there was no other place I wanted to spend my weekend at. Cheers to you Twin Cities Summer Jam. You’ve converted me and I can’t wait to spend another beautiful weekend with you next year!