96.3 Star Country presents the lineup for Festival Foods Shake the Lake 2018 on our Diamond Center Stage Saturday, June 23: LOCASH, Smithfield, Devin Dawson and just announced Michael Ray!
Join us for a night of fireworks on the FREE Diamond Center Stage as we celebrate the red, white & blue and good ol' country music.
Make sure to bring your radio to the shore of Lake Monona as we're your fireworks soundtrack starting at 10PM.
LOCASH is a Country music duo made up of singer-songwriters Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, natives of Baltimore, Maryland, and Indianapolis, Indiana, respectively. With a sound that fuses modern Country and classic heartland Rock with an edgy vocal blend, the independently-minded partners are revered as “one of Nashville’s hardest-working acts” (Rolling Stone) whose live show “has consistently been among the most energetic and entertaining in the country music genre” (Billboard). With two albums and eight charting singles to their credit, LOCASH broke out in 2015 with their gracious GOLD-certified hit, “I Love This Life," followed by the flirtatious GOLD-certified #1 smash, “I Know Somebody” – their first trip to the top of the Country radio airplay charts – and 2017’s fun-loving romantic anthem “Ring on Every Finger.” All three singles were part of their Reviver Records album debut, THE FIGHTERS, which was released in the summer of 2016 to Top 15 success. The follow up to THE FIGHTERS is expected in 2018, with the forthcoming album’s first single “Don’t Get Better Than That” available now on all digital platforms. As songwriters, Lucas and Brust have scored two undeniable hits (Keith Urban’s #1 “You Gonna Fly” in 2011 and Tim McGraw’s PLATINUM-certified “Truck Yeah” in 2012). In 2017, they earned their first round of awards show recognition, nominated at the ACM Awards for New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year, the CMT Music Awards for Duo Video of the Year (“I Know Somebody”), and the CMA Awards for Vocal Duo of the Year.
He may have a pair of number one singles to his name, but Michael Ray knows better than most how to best cultivate a dedicated fanbase. “Nothing is better than doing it one fan at a time,” the country singer says with steely determination. The man speaks from personal experience: before breaking out with his 2015 self-titled debut, an eclectic musical articulation of a time-tested talent featuring twin smash singles in “Kiss You in the Morning” and “Think a Little Less,” Ray spent years building a hardcore audience in his native Florida. With one name-making show after the next, the Eustis, Florida native built a grassroots following never caring the size, scope or reach of his show. Nonetheless, his rowdy, high-energy and rock-influenced live performances, which drew inspiration from Garth Brooks’ use of passion and spectacle, soon took hold and quickly saw him selling out 2,000-seat venues in cities from Orlando to Tallahassee. But he was never satisfied: as he’s proven in the years since, having moved to Nashville and grinded for years as a songwriter before leading a major-label record deal, hard work doesn’t scare Ray. It’s why even now, as he readies to release his much-anticipated sophomore album, anchored by its fast-rising lead single “Get To You,” the singer still believes each live show he performs is undoubtedly essential.
“Never be complacent,” the 29-year-old says of his mindset each time he steps onstage. “There’s always different ways you can grow as a performer.” He’s certainly put in the work: Ray has spent the past several years pounding the pavement on headlining tours when he’s not taking cues from some of the industry’s best tour mates including Darius Rucker, Kip Moore and Sam Hunt. The way Ray sees it, each concert he delivers is not only an opportunity to showcase his rare talent and continue building his fan base, but it’s also the culmination of countless people’s respective time and dedication. To that end, he’s not about to disappoint. “It’s all the work the musicians put into the record. It’s all the work my band puts into it. It’s my label, management and booking. Everybody’s put so much work into making this one show happen,” he explains. “So every night after a show when I go in the back room of the bus and chill out I try to think what I could have done better. The show has to always be getting tighter as we grow.”
It’s this mindset of never settling and constantly upping the creative ante that has Ray feeling more confident than ever as he heads out this fall on his “Get To You Tour.” “I only know one speed and that’s 100,” the musician says with a laugh. “In anything that I’ve done in my life it’s all about taking the attitude of ‘This is what we’re going to do so let’s do it!’ I keep the pressure on myself as motivation.”
He knows the moments he cherishes most — like when he first heard a crowd belting the lyrics to “Kiss You in the Morning” back to him at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, or when he first played the Grand Ole Opry — never happen by accident, and Ray is itching for more of them this fall. “I want every person who attends my show to leave saying they’re coming back,” he says with a wide-eyed smile, “and next time they’re bringing two people with them.”
A tattooed former metal head with a poet’s soul, Devin Dawson is not your typical country artist. His look is dark and bold. His sound is sleek and raw. And his songs speak the language of a new generation – fans with no use for genre labels.
Poised as the next bolt of lightning to hit country’s family tree, Dawson is an edgy study in contrast who can literally hear colors. But make no mistake; he’s more than a curiosity. With a knack for razor sharp stories that cut straight to the heart, full of detail and clever turns of phrase, he is establishing a reputation in Nashville as one of the most exciting modern singer-songwriters around.
Signed to Atlantic Records / Warner Music Nashville, Dawson’s approach to country is not different on purpose, it’s different with purpose. It won’t be for everyone, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I don’t like falling in the center,” he admits, dressed head to toe in black with a faded Def Leppard t-shirt and a leather jacket.
Twenty-eight years old and from Orangevale, California, Dawson grew up just outside the gates of Folsom Prison. He heard the sirens at night, and sang along to Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Just out of high school he played bass in a touring death metal band (Shadow of the Colossus). But in the midst of a breakup, he discovered the need to express himself through songwriting that metal didn’t fully facilitate.
“I’m such a lyric guy,” he explains, “and with the element of storytelling that’s what really drives country music. I needed that. It’s a completely different feeling being vulnerable onstage singing a song about your heart instead of head banging with your friends.”
Translating his hardcore roots into stories that stirred his soul, Dawson traded furious guitars and pounding drums for intense emotion and clever wordplay. Each song is unique, partly because Dawson has a medical condition called Synesthesia – meaning sounds often register as colors. It works based on the relationship between two notes, and Dawson uses it to create country tunes so vivid you can almost see them come to life.
Arriving in Nashville in 2012, he put his unique skills to use authoring songs for other artists. Now teamed with an equally daring producer in Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Little Big Town), Dawson’s first batch of tunes sound like a dangerous mix of organic roots and high-voltage power pop, full of romance and delivered with a distinctive sawtoothed vocal.
“I like to describe it as a new Nashville sound,” he says. “There’s country in the way I let you in. There’s soul in my melodies and voice. And there’s a lot of rock in the energy – I’m not afraid to get heavy. I was like ‘[Jay], let’s do whatever we want. Let’s make it dark, let's make it sexy. Let’s say things that people aren’t saying right now.’”
Taking that idea to heart, Dawson co-wrote every song on his debut project. Nothing was off limits, from themes to sounds and even the words he chose.
Smithfield was founded in 2011 with a dream as big as their home state of Texas. Comprised of vocalists Trey and Jennifer, Smithfield took the stage by storm with their memorable music and stunning harmonies. Having grown up together, their onstage chemistry is undeniably genuine and natural.
Country duos are a unique breed in the music industry. Two voices have to blend perfectly together, and that combination is often hard to find, even it two great singers. Against all odds, the duo has continued to persevere with their music and develop their sound, and found that with a lot of hard work and passion that anything can be accomplished. After only one year in Nashville, Smithfield had already landed opening gigs for established artists including Eric Paslay, Scotty McCreery, Jana Kramer, Dustin Lynch, Brothers Osborne and Craig Campbell.
Mixing the heavily rock influenced background of Trey and the classical country tendency of Jennifer, Smithfield creates a contemporary country sound that’s different and compelling.
Smithfield has also been chosen as one of the contestants for Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star Competition! You can vote for them at iHeartRadio.com/RisingStar. If they get enough votes to win, they could be the opening act at our iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
What: Festival Foods Shake the Lake
When: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Fireworks Rain Date: Sunday, June 24, 2018
Time: The event and live music start at 5 p.m. and fireworks start at 10 p.m.
Location: John Nolen Drive from Broom Street to Blair Street
Visit ShakeTheLake.org for more information.
If you're already thinking ahead and want the best view of the fireworks, we have our iHeartRadio Rooftop Party on top of the Monona Terrace. It's a ticketed event with entertainment throughout the event plus food and beverages will be available for purchase. Buy your iHeartRadio Rooftop Party tickets here.
See all the fun we had last year with our artists last year at Festival Foods Shake the Lake here.