2012 BamaJam Music Festival: A Review
It was quite the weekend at BamaJam 2012. Thursday was a bit of a disaster, with the generators used to power the stage failing, and the wind tearing the cover on the main stage destroying the equipment of many of the bands set to play. The crowd was evacuated to the parking lot around 4pm as the organizers tried to assess the storm damage and protect the public from a possible Indiana State Fair-type disaster. All acts prior to 9pm were ultimately scrapped, including Darryl Worley, Third Day, and crowd favorite Willie Nelson. Somehow, they managed to put the chaos in a box so headliners Tim McGraw and Eric Church could perform. Kudos to those guys and their road crews for finding a way to trudge through in these extraordinary circumstances. I know everyone who made the trip to see them appreciated their dedication.
The rest of the weekend went off without a hitch. The temperatures were in the high-80s to low-90s throughout the weekend, complete with a nice breeze and sufficient cloud cover. It could have been brutal this time of year in Enterprise. The organizers kept the bands on schedule, only briefly bleeding into other’s time slots as the day wore on. The crowd was energized and excited to see their favorite country acts.
Casey James – The American Idol heartthrob got the ladies to show up early for his mid-day set Friday. He definitely has the curls and the boyish good looks that got him several rounds further than he should have in the television competition. With that said, his set fell largely flat. He needs to step it up if he plans to have the necessary staying power to make it in this industry.
Eric Church – I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Mr. Church after he knocked his fellow country artists for how they rose to fame, but I have to give him props for weathering the storm and going on stage Thursday night. The crews were furiously swabbing the stage and rehabbing the equipment to get him ready to go on, and he played a solid set. He’s got a good sound and its clear why he is one of country’s fastest rising stars. Learn a valuable lesson from John Mayer and put your focus on the music, buddy.
Stryper – The Christian Metal band from the 80s certainly brought the electric guitars to slash up the tranquility of the BamaJam afternoon. Michael Sweet, Oz Fox and the crew threw down like they were playing between Slayer and Def Leppard. It was a nice reprieve from the twang.
Yelawolf – Wow! He was horribly miscast for this festival. The white rapping prodige of Eminem was greeted to the collective sound of crickets by a stunned audience. The barrage of profanity spewing from his lips was met by horror and disgust by the BamaJam crowd who had signed on for country’s best. To his credit, he tried to pull out the mix tables and throw in some Lynyrd Skynyrd and Beastie Boys which briefly got the audience tepidly interested, but then he went back to his set. The poor guy was throwing down the beats despite basically playing for himself. Time to fire your publicist.
NEEDTOBREATHE – The Christian rock quartet was introduced as one of country music’s fastest rising stars and its easy to see why. They brought a lot of energy and passion to their set. If they can keep making in roads, you’ll be seeing them headlining BamaJam in the years ahead.
Uncle Kracker – It was a little humorous. At one point in their set, Uncle Kracker frontman Matthew Shafer tried to get the audience to finish a line in their 2000s hit “Smile.” It barely registered with the lawn chair public and he accused them of being asleep. In a futile attempt at redemption, he said, “Let’s give it another try,” and got much the same result. First, half of this crowd probably wasn’t even listening to the radio twelve years ago. Second, only call for sing-a-longs if it is already happening spontaneously. Otherwise, embarrassment is sure to follow.
Jamey Johnson – Between the adoring crowd and opening with a song about smoking pot in a Baptist Church parking lot, my ears perked up when the Enterprise born Johnson took the stage. With a deep country drawl, this guy is the real deal. He played a solid set, igniting the crowd with hits “The Dollar,” “High Cost of Living,” and “In Color.” He’s written high profile songs for George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Trace Adkins, so its great to him perform his own work.
In all, it was a great weekend for those who loved country music and southern rock. BamaJam and Enterprise, Alabama catered to some of the biggest names in country music with class and style. Keep your eyes peeled for the line-up release next February as BamaJam 2013 is sure to be a must see event for country devotees in all corners of the southeast.