GoldenSky Festival lights up Sacramento

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Sacramento’s first ever country music festival lights up the city of trees like never before! Thousands of music fans made their way down to the GoldenSky Country Music Festival in Discovery Park over the weekend, ready for the star studded lineups. From the last warm rays of Summer during the days to the crisp Fall evenings, the energy that radiated throughout the 2-day festival was electric. Attendees truly experienced a weekend to remember.

Photo by Lexie Alley / GoldenSky 2022

Produced by Danny Wimmer Presents and in partnership with Visit Sacramento, the festival featured a variety of unique experiences including, but not limited to, refreshing craft beer, a dance hall saloon, an immersive Loud Lounge, and delicious farm-to-fork dining options. Whether attendees were in the spacious general admission areas or viewing from the VIP section, every artist was in crystal clear view. Performances took place on two neighboring stages, the Jack Daniel’s stage and the Visit Sacramento stage. Both stages displayed performances on two jumbo screens for continuous enjoyment. As each artist entered their spotlight, they were warmly welcomed with roaring applause from the audience. There were also a variety of cooling options strategically placed throughout the festival grounds for all attendees to enjoy during the daytime heatwaves. Attendees rested their boots at the variety of seating options available in both general admission and VIP or they kicked em’ up high at the River City Dance Hall Saloon.

Highlights from Saturday included powerhouse performances by Chase Matthew, Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce, and Tim McGraw. Chase Matthew kicked off his set with the upbeat single “Pull Up” from his 2021 EP County Line. The audience immediately knew it was about to go down as they raised up their ice cold beers with roaring cheers. He later performed his impactful 2020 single “11:11”, and shared some uplifting words that won the hearts of many. The audience sang along while he performed “County Line” from his 2021 EP Country Line. Towards the end of this performance, he made eye contact with a fan who tossed him a beer. This moment had the audience applauding loudly and held the attention of many, while he cracked open the fresh cold brew. As his set came to a close, the audience was showered with electric riffs and the lasting heartbeat of the drum.

Having the pleasure to speak with Chase on Saturday, it’s evident that his down to earth vibes and charismatic personality equally match his amazing stage presence. He was truly born for this. Sacramento has not seen the last of this ray of light artist. This light continued to glimmer through each act that followed, becoming the radiance that is Lindsay Ell. Rockin’ the Jack Daniel’s stage with the single “Criminal” from her 2017 album The Project, she shredded riff after riff, giving the audience a showstopper performance. In a melodic trance, Lindsay took to the stage floor, playing her guitar wildly while laying on her back. Ascending from the floor, she stomped through chords with ease, and gave the audience mesmerizing twirls while she skillfully played the guitar vertically.

Photo by Steve Thrasher / GoldenSky 2022

As the golden sun faded on Saturday evening, the sky went from champagne sunset pink to hazy dusk hues. Flickers of stardust rhinestone appeared from backstage as the bright flame that is Carly Pearce took the stage. The 2021 Country Music Association (CMA) vocalist of the year and 2022 Academy of Country Music (ACM) female artist of the year claimed the stage with an enchanting energy as she began singing “You Kissed Me First” from her 2020 album Carly Pearce. Whether it was her astounding stage presence or how she passionately sang every lyric, she immediately had everyone’s attention. This engagement became deeper as she played tribute to the late Loretta Lynn. Performing “Coal Miner’s Daughter” from Loretta Lynn’s 1971 album Coal Miner’s Daughter, the audience could feel a cosmic shimmer shining down from the stars.

Sending the crowd soaring through ultraviolet waves, Carly began singing her popular singles “Every Little Thing” and “Everybody Gonna Talk” from her 2017 album Every Little Thing. Going through the highs, the hurt, the shine, and the sting, the crowd felt every little thing as she continued to gracefully glide through the melodies. Flashes of red, orange, and spotlight white danced over the audience as she rocked us into a cover of the iconic single “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” from Shania Twain’s 1997 album Come On Over. The audience cheered in excitement as the unmistakable guitar riff began and the beat of this all time favorite song kicked in. Carly had the crowd singing along as they raised their cowboy hats up in the air. It was truly a very special moment to witness.

Photo by Steve Thrasher / GoldenSky 2022

On a festival high, the audience waited for headliner Tim McGraw. A recipient of three Grammy awards, 14 ACM awards, 11 CMA awards, and 10 American Music Awards (AMA) awards, makes him one of the best music artists of all time. The anticipation and excitement was felt as everyone continued to connect through music and enjoy the surrounding ambience. Slowly, members of Tim’s band started to appear on stage as the last few lyrics of the intermission music played. Building up the long awaited moment of seeing the infamous black straw cowboy hat appear through the flickering lights, the band opened the closing set with tremendous sound. The audience danced as he sang the single “Down On The Farm” from his 1994 album Not A Moment Too Soon. Performing with unmatched swagger and skill, Tim boot scootin’ boogied down each inch of the Jack Daniel’s stage. Taking a moment to engage with the audience, he shared some laughter and humours words with cheering fans.

Tim joyously lifted his cowboy hat and smiled from ear to ear, while he started to sing “Just to See You Smile” from his 1997 album Everywhere. Applause and smiles continued as he began singing “Southern Girl” from his 2013 album Two Lanes of Freedom. The audience liked it, they loved it, and wanted more of it. Giving a nod to the ladies in the crowd, he playfully sang, there ain’t nothin’ in the whole wide world like California girls. This charming lyric twist resulted in a big Tim smile and cheers from the crowd. Getting personable with festival goers, he walked out further on the stage, and took a knee while taking us back through the years with “Memory Lane” from his 1993 album Tim McGraw. Signaling his guitarists to get on out there, the audience was showered with nostalgic riffs. The stage was aglow with red, white, and blue as the band took us home with swaying rhythm.

Highlights from Sunday delivered the same level of heat as artists like Lily Rose, Ernest, and Sam Hunt took the stage. Running on stage with big energy, Lily Rose had the audience buzzing as she sang “Know My Way Around” from her 2021 album Stronger Than I Am. Having just toured with Sam Hunt as one of his opening acts for several shows during his 2022 tour, she and her band were shining with that post tour glow. The audience whistled and cheered as she mentioned that Sacramento already has things heatin’ up, and removed her jacket. She welcomed the audience reaction with a smile and jumped right back into action. The crowd sang along as she began to sing “Every Last One” from her 2021 album Stronger Than I Am. Engaging with festival goers, bouncing energetically as she sang the lyrics, and her high spirited stage presence offered such an entertaining show for day two.

The passionate playing that exuded from Lily and her band flowed like smooth wine. This smoothness set the tone as she began effortlessly singing the lyrics and strumming the intro to her 2022 single “Watcha Know About That”. The playfulness shown with her band members added to her wonderful showmanship. While performing a cover of “Somebody Like You” from Keith Urban’s 2022 album Golden Road, her guitarist, Kevin Smith, shredded the guitar solo. Playing each chord with such life, he threw his pick out to the audience as he ran into a playful guitar strumming jump towards Lily. As he kicked up his leg and held the chord’s sound out to the crowd, hands raised up to the sky in enjoyment.

The joy continued as Ernest took the Jack Daniel’s stage, warmly greeting the audience with a drink in hand. Singing “Did It With You” and “Tennessee Queen” from his 2022 album Flower Shops (The Album), the melodies had everyone dancing in unison and cheering for more. Ernest shimmied and playfully danced for the audience, while smiling and sharing some laughs. His connection with festival goers was obvious and was definitely something special. Being able to meet Sunday’s headliner Sam Hunt and briefly speaking with him about his show later that evening, it was evident that festival goers were in for a spectacular set. The recipient of numerous awards, including one AMA award and one ACM award, performed hits like “Take Your Time” from his 2014 album Montevallo and “Hard to Forget” from his 2020 album Southside. As the intro to “Leave the Night On” from his 2014 album Montevallo began to play, Sam skipped out on stage through the fog, and gave a shout out to Sacramento. The heartfelt and enthusiastic lyrics filled the souls of the audience as they sang along with him.

Festival goers were bathed in purple, blue, and pink hued lights as the chill of the evening proved to be no match for this sizzling set. The remarkable sound of the band playing in full swing reverberated through everyone’s chest. Stepping down from the stage and taking to the festival grounds, Sam got up close and personal with adoring fans while singing “House Party” from his 2014 album Montevallo. His soaring vocals, smooth acoustic riffs, and dazzling on stage charm continously enthralled the audience. Shakin’ the festival floor to its core, he definitely left festival goers wanting more. Confetti began to appear, floating through the late night breeze, and adding so much magic to the already monumental evening.

Photo by Steve Thrasher / GoldenSky 2022

There is no doubt that golden memories were made under the California sky this past weekend. Sacramento has definitely struck gold with this new tradition! GoldenSky, same time next year?

Photo by Steve Thrasher / GoldenSky 2022

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