Bentley set to headline Summer Send Off concert

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Country star Dierks Bentley will headline the first Summer Send Off Music Festival in Ponoka Sept. 2 and 3.

Central Albertans will sing under and with the stars on the Labour Day weekend when the Ponoka at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds hosts its first Summer Send Off Music Festival at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds.

Country star Dierks Bentley will headline the weekend concert, taking over the main stage Sept. 3. Opening acts are Deric Ruttan, Easton Corbin, Charlie Major, Hey Romeo and The Boom Chucka Boys.

Promoter Brian Halbert with Big Air Entertainment, said the weekend of country music at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds begins Friday Sept. 2 with a kickoff party at the Stagecoach Saloon. Getting that party started will be KG Country’s Tera Lee and Aaron Pritchett.

“The Ponoka Stampede grandstand gives us a covered, intimate setting for what will be a great concert,” Halbert said. “The tiered grandstand seating will offer a comfortable experience to watch an awesome lineup.”

“Everyone is able to come and go from their seats to go onto the floor area and “dance in the dirt,” Halbert said.

Doors open at noon Sept. 3 for the six main stage acts. Performances begin at 1 p.m. Saturday’s main stage ticket is also valid for the Saturday night beer gardens, which will have live entertainment until 2 a.m.

Tickets are available for reserved grandstand and general admission seating through Ticketmaster. Camping at the Frank Mickey Campground is also available.

Bentley is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has charted 14 country hits, including seven number 1 singles. Bentley’s latest hit looked like it was ready to move up to the top of the chart as well.

Deric Ruttan was raised just outside Bracebridge, Ont., on land where his great-grandfather made moonshine in the 1930s. Taking his cues from musical heroes like Steve Earle, he moved to Nashville and spent seven years “in the trenches” in the country music capital of the world, struggling to make a name for himself.

When his first album was released in Canada, the CD yielded five top 10 singles, (including the hits, “When You Come Around”, “Shine”, and “Take The Wheel”), and earned him a “Best Album” nomination at the 2004 Canadian Country Music Awards. “Male Vocalist” and “Rising Star” nominations followed, as did the Grand Ol’ Opry appearances, and a high-profile national tour.

In 2004 he was named “Best New Solo Country Artist” at the Canadian Radio Music Awards. Stateside though, Ruttan’s artist success was about to be eclipsed by his success as a songwriter. In 2003, just as his first single “When You Come Around” was released, he celebrated his first number 1 as a songwriter when friend and collaborator Dierks Bentley took the Ruttan/Bentley/Brett Beavers cowrite “What Was I Thinkin’” to the top of the charts in the U.S. The song helped set Bentley on the path to country stardom.

Easton Corbin knew he wanted to be a country singer well before he learned how to play guitar.

Born and raised in rural Gilchrist County, Fla., Corbin spent much of his time on his grandparent’s cattle farm after his parents divorced when he was young. “I lived a mile from the Suwannee River,” he says. “I grew up fishing on it and I loved to work on the farm. Every weekend, that’s where I’d be.”

Easton, whose musical influences include George Jones, Merle Haggard, George Strait and Keith Whitley, found a kindred spirit in producer Carson Chamberlain, who years earlier had toured with Whitley as his steel guitar player and bandleader. “We really hit it off,” Corbin says. “I love traditional music and he does too. I knew he was the producer for me.”

Aaron Pritchett has proven himself to be one of the hardest working and sought after artists in the business. With numerous top hits, music videos, tours with Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn, Pritchett has gained a significant following across Canada. Over his career he has earned many accolades and awards, including a CCMA for Independent Male Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year in 2007 for the anthem, “Hold My Beer.” His passion and intensity on stage, coupled with his unwavering dedication to fans sets him apart from other acts and has helped solidify his success.

Growing up in small-town northern British Columbia, Pritchett drew his earliest musical influences from ’80s rock, but the transition to country music came naturally.

“It was based on being able to relate to the stories that country songs told. Those stories were a lot like mine. I was going fishing, camping, and riding buses to hockey tournaments in even smaller towns than my own, life was a lot more country than rock and roll.”

“That down-home feel that resonated with me is what I strive to convey in my music today.”

Please see next week’s Ponoka News for more about the acts performing at the Summer Send Off Music festival.

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