Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Rocky Gap Music Festival

Back in 1995, Ed, Richardina and I decided that we would spend the weekend at Rocky Gap Country Music Festival. The three of us had become big fans of country music in the previous couple of years, and since Ed and I lived a short 25 minute drive from the venue, it made sense to attend.

Why not? Many big names and up and comers would be there. Tim McGraw, Lari White, George Ducas, Charlie Daniels Band, The Mavericks, Mary Chapin Carpenter and a few others over a three day weekend. (Clay Walker was the headliner for Friday night, which we skipped.) The plans were simple: a couple of blankets, copious sunscreen, Southern Comfort and a cooler full of food for Saturday and Sunday. (Guess which one of us didn't get to have ANY of that SoCo?)

When we got there, we were cursing the fact that we had this 50 pound cooler to drag all the way from the parking field to the lawn, but it was worth it when we saw how much the food concessions were charging and just how long those lines were to get it! Our location was blocked by a speaker tower, but that didn't matter-we would enjoy that music, watching the jumbotron screen to stage left.

Enjoy we did. The rising stars of country definitely gave it their all. This was Tim McGraw's first big tour, with Don't Take the Girl being his most recent hit and Indian Outlaw had just been released a couple of days before. Let me tell you, the downpour we'd had for the hour and a half leading up to his performance did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm the audience had. The man gave a fantastic show. The same could be said for all the artists performing all weekend long.

The next day was sunny throughout, and while we still had obstructed views behind that same speaker tower, we were much closer to the stage, still viewing that jumbotron. Rich and I were quite excited to see MCC and the Mavericks perform. (Heck, we enjoyed Mary-Chapin's show so much, we went to see her in NYC two months later) Raoul Malo really blew me away live-he's got a vocal quality similar to Roy Orbison.

I will say this for all of the acts that were on that stage: each one performed as good or better than what we heard on our CDs or radio dial. I don't know if it was the scenery, the fresh mountain air or the sea of fans-but I suspected that this was the kind of energy that was the norm for any of these artists live.

That weekend was so much fun that we vowed to go again. Alas, the changes afoot for me and Ed kept us busy for a couple of years, namely the birth of Gameboy. In late 1997, we and Rich agreed it was time to go back. However, 1998 came with an announcment that Rocky Gap State Park would be adding a convention center and no longer host the festival. Boo. Hiss.

While I had started to enjoy country in the couple of years preceding the festival, that weekend cemented it.

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