Another Great Weekend Come And Gone At Jam In The Valley — Clay’s Review
It was another successful year at Jam In The Valley. This was the 20th anniversary of Western New York's only 3-day country concert event, and even though things were a bit muddy to start out, I would say that it was one of the best concert events I have been a part of. To think what it used to be and what it has become is pretty amazing.
Twenty years ago, the owners of Buffalo Hill Village Campground in Varysburg decided to put on a show for their campers. Starting with a small stage and just a couple hundred campers, Jam In The Valley has grown to welcome over 10,000 die-hard country fans NIGHTLY!
The campground sure has expanded; these days, the camping spots sell out within a couple of days of being on sale. From Wednesday through Sunday, the atmosphere is similar to a 5-day tailgate bash at a football game.
How about the entertainment?
Where do I start? I had the pleasure of hosting at the Made In America campground stage throughout the weekend. Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. 'til gates opened, campers were treated to some great local talent including Diamond Back, Two Left Boots, Ashton Hollow, Sean Patrick McGraw and Ricky Lee. I constantly am impressed by the pure musical talent that Western New York has to offer. I would suggest that you try to catch these acts at some point this summer.
And the main stage event?
It would be impossible for me to really review each act individually. So how about a few of the moment that stand out in my mind? First, Chris Janson. This guy is good. I would say the highest energy show I have seen in a long time. (Check out my thoughts on his performance.)
The Heritage is a local act that really impressed me. Full disclosure, I have known these guys for a few years. However, hearing them over the weekend was like hearing them for the first time. The sound coming through the enormous sound system at JITV was pretty cool. I am a huge Justin Moore fan, and their rendition of "Small Town USA" was one of the best covers I have ever heard.
Is there a guy happier to be back on the country music scene than Cagle? I doubt it. He is clearly genuine and happy and humbled to see fans singing his songs back to him. Cagle is one of the most grateful artists you will encounter, and it showed when he got overcome with emotion on more than one occasion. His interaction with the crowd is spot on. You feel like you are watching one of your best friends up there.
I could go on and on about Montgomery Gentry. They are true monarchs in this business that have only gotten better even amidst recent rumors of their "split." It seems to me that they feel like they are family when they get back to JITV. I spoke to Troy like he was just a regular guy. They made it a point to thank everyone backstage after their show, when many artists just collect their check and hide on their bus!
Scotty McCreery, Parmalee, Randy Houser and OMG...Dierks Bentley!!! Does it get any better? To say that fans got their money's worth would be an understatement. Dierks could be the "face" of JITV. He loves to party. He loves country music, and he is just...plain...cool!! The guy rocked the place. I hated that I had to leave early to get home. It was so much fun and when he sang "5-1-5-0" third song in to the set...the place exploded.
From music to the incredible fireworks, the 20th anniversary of Jam In The Valley was simply awesome! Yes, the weather was hot and sticky on the good days and wet and muddy and frustrating on the bad days, but it never seems to bother any of the fans, and the workers, volunteers and musicians always stay professional and dedicated.
I get emotional to think about the hard work and generosity of the Attea family over these last 20 years. I realize that they hate to get pats on the back. But it is something I can't overlook. The amount of charities, local and national, that get support from the proceeds is countless. When it comes to kids, there is no other person I know that cares more about donating to youth organizations than Sonny Attea. The Sonny Day Fund was set up because of his devotion, and it helps numerous organizations.
The single greatest moment of the weekend for me was...
JITV was given a guitar from Budweiser as a thank you for their years of service. Sonny decided to pay it forward and get it autographed by the stars of the weekend and sell it Saturday for $3,000, with the money going to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Joe McIntosh of Depew told me he wanted to donate $5,000 to purchase it. When I went backstage to inform Sonny, his hands started to tremble and tears filled his eyes. He could hardly even speak, he was so overcome with joy. I don't claim to know everything about Sonny. I do however know one thing. His heart is as big as Wyoming County when it comes to kids. There is no one I know that has done as much behind the scenes for children's charity. Whether it's time, money or love, he gives everything in his ability. I won't embarrass him with more than that.
Can't wait 'til Jam in The Valley 2014!