After hosting country stars Jake Owen and Justin Moore the last two summers respectively, the Wayne County Fair continued their newfound tradition by welcoming Craig Campbell and Eric Paslay to play for local Pennsylvania fans. Concert goers were also treated to nice weather during the show, a pleasant contrast to the rain and lightening that altered the fairs first show in 2012, and the mild discomfort of the cold weather during the show in 2013. County fairs have always been popular and rewarding environments for country musicians to share their music and for appreciative fans to hear music they enjoy and relate to. This show proved to be no different as fans took a break from fair rides, food, shopping, and farm animals to watch the exciting performances put on by Campbell and Paslay.
Eric Paslay, who released his self-titled first album this past February, kicked off the night with a versatile opening set, showcasing his ability to write and perform songs with a variety of different styles, speeds, and sounds. Although his first album is still new, Paslay is already an established and successful writer in the country genre, and has toured as an artist with big names like Jake Owen, Little Big Town, and Eli Young Band. He has penned a number hits for numerous country stars including “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” a song Owen took to #1 on the country charts. Paslay performed the wildly popular song during his set (after thanking the fans and country radio) to the delight of the crowd who sang along to every word. Paslay also has writing credits for Rascal Flatts with lead single and #1 hit “Rewind” off their most recent album of the same name, Lady Antebellum with album track “Friday Night” from Own the Night released in 2011, Eli Young Band with #1 hit “Even If It Breaks Your Heart from Life At Best released in 2011 and Love and Theft with “Angel Eyes” a #1 hit off their self-titled album also released in 2011.
He opened with the up-tempo “Like A Song,” a track that definitely has the feel of a future single candidate. Three songs in, Paslay really turned the energy up a notch with the fast paced and super catchy first single off his album “Never Really Wanted” which reached #48 on the country charts. Towards the second half of his set, Paslay sang his current single, the guitar driven “Song About a Girl” a track with a seemingly anti-bro country sentiment, and a very catchy hook in its chorus, an element of songwriting that he has continued to excel at. Paslay capped off his eight song set with his highest charting single (and only top 10) as an artist to date, “Friday Night,” which peaked at #6 on the country charts and had the entire crowd on their feet singing along and was a perfect segue into Craig Campbell’s set.
When Campbell finally took the stage, the crowd was more then warmed up and ready for a fun night. He set the bar high from the first song he played, a cover of the Brooks and Dunn song “Play Something Country,” a track guaranteed engage the crowd and leave them ready for more. One thing that really stood out about Campbell and his band was their ability to have fun on stage, and interact positively with the fans while including them in their performances. At one point during the show, he whipped out a mason jar of apple pie moonshine, and invited a couple fans onstage to drink with him and his band members while sitting around the piano as he played and sang. Throughout the night, Campbell demonstrated his more traditional leaning sound, performing popular songs “Outta My Head,” “Fish,” “Truck N’ Roll,” and “Family Man,” before closing with his most recent single and first top 10 song “Keep Them Kisses Coming.” He also surprised the crowd with some unexpected covers, including a country version of pop artist Lorde’s “Royals,” and even Frozen’s “Let It Go,” that he said was inspired by his six year old daughters love for the movie. Despite some random choices, every track Campbell chose to sing was bolstered by his captivating stage presence and extensive vocal abilities. Campbell’s recent success on the country radio charts, and his animated, fan oriented live shows prove there is still a place in country music for more Neo-traditional artists, despite tough conditions at country radio nowadays for those with that sound. The increasing popularity of pop, rock and even hip hop flavored country music on mainstream radio has not stopped Campbell from bringing more classically styled country music to grateful fans who still enjoy traditional sounds.
Although the Wayne County Fair has been bringing live country shows to their venue for only a few years now, they have absolutely brought a new and exciting element to the fair experience. Now, outside of games, delicious food, fireworks, animals and rides, attendees of the fair can also experience some of their favorite country stars in a live setting. This year, Campbell and Paslay drew in fans from all throughout the Pennsylvania area for an exciting concert that will have fans anticipating next summer’s show, while also savoring the fun memories they made at this year’s concert.
Review by Taylor Ostrick