ROCKIN' THROUGH MY 50's & BEYOND!
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Traveling with Jessica Lynne and The Cousins to LRS Country Music Festival 2017
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable…
Where do you daydream? My childhood red, vinyl bean bag chair, was my favorite day dream vehicle. I would sit in it, and travel through space, time and dimension. Hours would go by, and I would be completely unaware. Physically I was a little girl living on a wheat farm in Eastern Washington. Mentally, I was an exciting world traveler. I am very blessed to have fulfilled most of my childhood dreams. College graduate. Mother to an amazing daughter and son. And, thanks to my 30-year career as a flight attendant, traveled the world.
Dreams don’t stop once you grow up, though. At least they shouldn’t. Two years ago, as I was sitting at one of my many concerts, I suddenly had a vision. I want to travel with a band someday. Be part of the creation of a big concert. 6 months later, Jessica Lynne asked me to join her music team. And then just this past month, my dream came true! I traveled with the band to the LRS Country Music Festival in Central OR. We hit the Big Show.
I’ve been binge watching the tv show, Nashville. You know that extravagant tour bus Juliette Barnes travels around in? That is still a dream waiting to happen. Our tour bus is Bryan’s SUV towing a U-Haul.
We packed the trailer, piled into the SUV and spent the next 8 or so hours, talking, sleeping, listening to music, and silently gazing out at the beautiful landscape. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen the advertising for the LRS Country Music festival. Jessica Lynne and The Cousins would be opening for comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and then the band Diamond Rio. Very impressive! But, that was about it. This was the festival’s first year, so nobody really knew what to expect.
Central Oregon is a land of beautiful, wide, open spaces. Ranch country. After driving an hour out of Prineville, OR, we finally came upon Paulina. A tiny Western Town, that literally had a general store and post office. And above it on the hillside, we saw it. The stage. A giant, black performance stage looming in the distance. One of those first time, spine tingling moments, that you want to keep locked into your brain forever. We drove to the Check-In Area. Received our Artist lanyards and directions as to where to park. This was a weekend festival, and the grounds were filled with trailers, RVs and tents. We drove past them, and were guided to the back-parking area for vendors and artists. Bryan skillfully backed in our U-Haul next to a tour bus. We were here! And, it was time to the hit the ground running.
LRS stands for Lazy Rockin’ Stirrup Ranch. A private ranch, and the owners decided to create this music festival. Talk about dreaming big! While the band was getting setup onstage for soundcheck, I was back under the merchandise tent, setting up my table. And before I go any further, I need to introduce the Jessica Lynne and the Cousins band and production team for that weekend! Jessica Lynne (lead vocals/guitar), Kat Bula (fiddle/vocals), Raymond Hayden (keyboards/vocals), Paul Beaudry (bass/vocals), Kubby Casual (drums), Skyler Mehal (lead guitar), Bryan Groves (production manager/driver/jack of all trades), Austin Taylor (sound engineering) and myself (merchandise). I shared the tent with the LRS merchandise crew. I really enjoyed talking to them, and learning more about the festival. After the soundcheck was over, I received a text that dinner was being provided for the artists, behind the stage. The LRS crew said they would watch over our merchandise, so I walked over for dinner.
I was shocked! This was not just sandwiches and soda pop. Under a tent, were tables set up with white linen. Dinner was a wonderful selection of salads, salmon, beef and assorted side dishes. In addition to cold sodas, there was a bar. Not at all what I expected! The band had already eaten, and were heading up to the stage. It was almost ShowTime!
I finished just in time for their stage introduction. Out they came, Jessica Lynne and The Cousins! I sincerely became choked up. I used to see Jessica singing by herself in Sea-Tac as one of the airport musicians. And here she was onstage with her full band, opening the first LRS Country Music Festival.
This was the real deal, with cameras filming live feeds for a big screen next the stage. After videoing their first song, I went back to the merchandise tent, and listened to the concert from there.
I was the only person on the music team to get that perspective, and it was fantastic! After their set was complete, Jessica came back to meet her fans and give autographs. It was fun to see people loving her. The Wildhorse Harley-Davidson company REALLY loved her! They invited her back to their tent for some fun photo shoots. This is one of Jessica’s favorite photos from the weekend.
The concert continued with comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Larry The Cable Guys. When the final act, Diamond Rio, came onstage, I broke down the merchandise table and joined the band. We all had backstage passes. After storing everything away, I joined them backstage, and found them smoking cigars with Larry the Cable Guy! Absolutely the friendliest and nicest man.
I was shocked to find myself hanging out in this location, and receiving this viewpoint. It was fantastic. A dream come true for me, and what a special gift. We all had a lot of fun singing and dancing. And Diamond Rio were a well-oiled machine, after performing together for over 30 years. A great memory was when they were coming offstage, and Jessica went over to introduce herself. They were one of her favorite bands early on. They said, “You don’t have to tell us your name, we know who you are.” A great night of success!
Next thing you know, we were driving back to Seattle-Tacoma, each trying to absorb and remember our own individual experiences. What I really appreciated, was being able to spend that time together talking and reflecting. Usually, the show finishes, everyone packs up and leaves. There is not a lot of social time, in the very busy lives of musicians.
It took a lot of effort, sacrificed sleep and energy to experience this weekend. But it was totally worth it. Dreams are worth making that effort.
Dream like when you were a child.