GoldenSky Brings the Party to California


GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Nathan Zucker

The GoldenSky Country Music Festival wrangled up country fans from near and far as the festival boot scootin’ boogied back to Discovery Park in Sacramento, California for one hell of a second year. The festival’s successful debut in 2022 attracted thousands of attendees, with this year’s festivities further solidifying the festival as an annual must. A record breaking 60,000 festival goers filled the grounds over the course of two days. Presented by Danny Wimmer Presents, and in partnership with Visit Sacramento, the festival has undoubtedly struck gold in California.

Featuring several of the same high tier experiences as last year, the festival offered attendees the chance to partake in the GoldenSky Beer Festival and enjoy local farm-to-fork food offerings, fresh craft beer and cider, a dance hall saloon, a festival braiding hair bar, local artisans, and more. From the spacious general admission areas to the VIP section, attendees were able to immerse themselves in luxury level comfort while viewing their favorite artists. Star studded performances took place on two neighboring stages, the Jack Daniel’s stage and the Visit Sacramento stage. The 2-day festival’s line-up was stacked with renowned artists, including some of the biggest names in country music. With fall vibes in the air, each performance sent festival goers reaching for that golden sky.

GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Nathan Zucker

Performing on opening day, Ingrid Andress captivated the hearts of many with her down to earth energy and openness on stage. The Colorado native sang several well-known selections, filled with her steady and vibrant vibrato. Sun rays flared off her amber lenses while she performed “More Hearts Than Mine” from her 2020 album Lady Like, as fans swooned through every ivory key. Strutting into “Wishful Drinking (with Sam Hunt)” from her 2022 album Good Person, she toasted her red solo cup to the crowd, nodding recognition to last year’s GoldenSky headliner. Niko Moon’s explosive performance of “Good Time” from his 2021 album Good Time on the Jack Daniel’s stage set fire to the setting sun as Jordan Davis continued to show attendees a Damn Good Time on the Visit Sacramento stage. Between “Take It From Me” and “Singles You Up” from his 2018 album Home State to throwing festival goers back with nostalgic covers like “Drops of Jupiter” from Train’s 2001 album Drops Of Jupiter, Jordan had the crowd kickin’ up their dirt covered boots through every motion.

GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Steve Thrasher

Headliner Jon Pardi danced the dust right off attendees’ boots as nightfall approached and the festival grounds shimmered with orange and purple twinkling lights. Taking the stage to a warm Cali welcome, he performed “California Sunrise” and “Dirt On My Boots” from his 2016 album California Sunrise and “Your Heart Or Mine” from his 2022 album Mr. Saturday Night. Through heavy country riffs and his smooth signature twang, Jon brought undeniable star soaring energy to the evening of day one. His set finished with Stetson hats and cold hazy brews in the air, proving to be the Pardi of the year in the golden state. The sunshine filled good times continued through day two, as Nate Smith brought an array of entertainment to the festival grounds. Viewing fans gathered shoulder to shoulder as he and his band performed “World on Fire” from his 2023 album Nate Smith and “Whiskey On You” from his 2022 album Whiskey On You. Sleekly walking from stage right to stage left and connecting with cheering fans, Nate took a pause at the mic. Completely overcome with genuine emotion, festival goers had him taken back with their unwavering enjoyment and support.

GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Steve Thrasher

Taking a moment to step away from the stage, his band kept the instrumental rhythm going and fans cheered him on with encouragement. Visibly beyond grateful, Nate came back out on stage. As he finished a very memorable set, he threw his black trucker hat out to the crowd and gave a heartfelt thank you to the audience. Every performance throughout the day was fueled by smooth tequila and whiskey, leaving attendees high on their festival buzz. The radiant sunflower that is Lainey Wilson, attracted almost every festival goer as her performance set the stage ablaze. Emitting noticeable headliner energy, she strongly sang “Things a Man Oughta Know” from her 2021 album Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ and “Heart Like A Truck” from her 2022 album Heart Like A Truck. Sizzling in her bright orange jumpsuit and signature hat, she strutted confidently while skillfully playing guitar alongside her band.

GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Steve Thrasher

Accompanied on stage with a young festival goer, the crowd roared in applause. She further blew festival goers away when impeccably hitting high and powerful notes. Blue and warm stage lighting showered over the audience as Lainey said, “sing along like a redneck choir”, causing the crowd to laugh and sing along. Keepin’ the buzz goin’, Lainey had the audience swaying in unison as she and her band performed “Watermelon Moonshine” from her 2022 album Bell Bottom Country. Proving to be a force all her own, she had the entire crowd transfixed with her amazing stage presence. Parker McCollum came out with a bang on the neighboring stage, as he rocked the festival grounds. Performing several selections, including “I Can’t Breathe” from his 2017 album Probably Wrong and “Handle On You” from his 2022 album Handle On You, he and his bandmates had festival goers raving for more.

The festival grounds remained filled following Parker’s performance as attendees eagerly awaited the weekend’s closing headliner, Eric Church. Fans patiently waited as they held their placement for Eric to make his set time. Some willingly exceeding their waiting limitations to catch a glimpse of the popular country star. A mix of boots headed towards the exits and others keeping their eyes fixed on the Jack Daniel’s stage. As the stars glimmered over the crowd, Eric made his way to center stage, making the wishes of all those who waited that evening come true. Performing in front of spinning white starburst lighting and fog, Eric passionately performed “Give Me Back My Hometown” from his 2014 album The Outsiders as fans sang along. Through his signature black lenses, he continued with “Springsteen” from his 2011 album Chief, while deep blue, violet, and warm lights danced through the joyous audience.

GoldenSky 2023 / Photo by Steve Thrasher

The thought of GoldenSky’s inaugural year being surpassed seemed unfathomable, but round two proved to be right on cue. Festival goers will want to start rounding up their crew for next year as the highly anticipated country festival adds on another day, turning it into a buckin’ 3-day country ride.

Review by Andrea Garman @themusiclens.

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