A Legendary Festival In The Making: The Watershed Festival
The Gorge – George, Washington
For the first time this past weekend (August 3-5), the Watershed Festival settled into the Gorge Amphitheater in the middle-of-nowhere in central Washington State. With the lack of hotels around, country fans brought their RV’s or tented throughout the weekend.
Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Johnny Reid and Dierks Bentley were among the country music stars joining thousands of country music fans for one of the biggest country music parties this part of the world has ever seen, at one of the most gorgeous outdoor venues there is.
popYOUlarity came to check out the party on Saturday and Sunday and these are our top highlights:
The View, of course. How many outdoor venues give such a stunning backdrop for you watch and listen to your favorite artists?
Blake Shelton is a gifted entertainer and put on the most enjoyable set of the weekend. Mixing humor with his strong emotional song performances, one of the busiest men in country music showcased exactly why he was been so successful.
It was a nice touch when he took fans through the reasons why he decided country music was for him and the music he was surrounded by while growing up. He even performed My Prerogative, which was dedicated to his sister, then apologized to the crowd for hating that song. He performed sharp versions of Honey Bee and the Trace Adkins-collaboration Hillbilly Bone. Other favorites included Some Beach, All About Tonight and She Wouldn’t Be Gone. Shelton’s great stories and friendliness toward the audience definitely added the cherry on top of a great set.
Johnny Reid is huge in Canada and if he doesn’t sell out a Canadian show, it is shocking. Being just across the border in Washington, it was surprising to see how few people made the “early” set time to see Johnny Reid, even if he has performed the day before. Watching Johnny Reid perform is always fun. His performances are always so genuine and it is great to see him beaming with a huge smile throughout the set.
With hits like A Woman Like You, Fire It Up and “Lets Go Higher”, Johnny’s Vocals were tight and he always seems impeccably rehearsed. Exquisitely attired, regardless of the heat, Johnny could have come out in jeans and a t-shirt and the crowd wouldn’t have cared. Signing autographs while singing, Scottish-Canadian Crooner Johnny Reid knows how to please a crowd; it is hard to imagine anyone not being happy with his performance.
Thompson Square married duo Keifer and Shawna Thompson were absolutely charming during their first-ever performance in George, WA. Their hit Are You Going To Kiss Me Or Not obviously had a huge response. They introduced Bless with a short mention about helping children in need through child sponsorship and did so in a completely non-pushy way. Bonus points for adding in some Led Zepplin Rock ‘n Roll. They are currently in the studio working on their next album- we can’t wait!
Miranda Lambert has created quite the following with hits such as Kerosene, Heart Like Mine, Over You, Fastest Girl in Town , Brand New Strings, White Liar and Famous in a Small Town ; all songs that are hard not to love. Lambert’s songs may mainly come from places of anger and revenge, but they are great to blow off some steam and Lambert encouraged the audience to do so. One of the highlights of the evening was Lambert’s country version of Lady Gaga’s You & I.
When Miranda dreamed of being a country star, the setting the Watershed Festival provided was what she had always imagined. It was an incredible sight – thousands on their feet. Even if they were previously sitting on the grass hill in the back, few remained seated. “This is what I pictured… Just people rocking out, like a bar” Lambert exclaimed.
Sister-duo One More Girl (Carly McKillip and Britt McKillip) have made quite a name for themselves across the border in their hometown near Vancouver, BC with songs such as Wired and Maybe. It was great to see some of our local talent showcased and for the festival to give One More Girl their first show in the US, ever. In September the sisters will enter the studio with producer Jeff Trott.
Morgan Frazier was the least-known of all the performers on the main stage, but for her to be there, someone believes she had the potential to be the next big country star. After her performance, it was obvious she does: the girl really can sing. Seh acknowledged early on that she was probably the least well-known, but happily signed autographs during her performance. Stand out tracks included What’s a Guy Like You Doing in a Love Like This?, Kerosene (Miranda Lambert cover) and The Yellow Brick Road.
Rae Solomon was an artist we had never heard of until she was announced as one of the performers at the festival. Opening with Country-Fied Chick, Solomon really set the stage immediately for what was to come with her strong stage presence and catchy country-pop tunes. Stand out tracks included Chasing the Sunset, Get in My Way and Willing Heart.
The “Extras” at Watershed, such as the free hot-air balloon rides (that barely left the ground), a mini a water park with a slip and slide, and a tiny margarita-ville with a tiny sand pit did not amount too much, but the music was amazing. Watershed was such an amazing time in fact, that walking around the grounds you could hear many, many people already talking about next year. With how successful the festival was this year, we expect the Watershed Festival to be an annual event. We sure hope it will be.
Most people brought their blankets and chairs to the main stage area and barely moved. Maybe it was the heat and lack of any shade near stage two, but the other performers for sure did not receive as much awareness as they could have.
It was disappointing to see the lack of interest the majority of attendees paid to the second stage between main stage shows at the festival.
View performance photos from Watershed: Jon Pardi, Johnny Reid, Sara Evans, Uncle Kracker, Thomas Rhett, Morgan Frazier, Tracy Lawrence, Reckless Kelly, Rae Solomon, One More Girl, Thompson Square, Blake Shelton and Brantley Gilbert.