Strong opening acts at Summer Send Off

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Dierks Bentley will headline Ponoka’s first annual Summer Send Off Music Festival on the Labour Day weekend

Opening acts are Deric Ruttan, Easton Corbin, Charlie Major, Hey Romeo and The Boom Chucka Boys.

The weekend of country music 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.

Promoter Brian Halbert with Big Air Entertainment, said the grandstand at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds is the perfect venue for this first annual concert. The tiered grandstand seating will offer a comfortable experience — providing cover from heat, wind or rain.

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 p.m.

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

Here’s a look at the opening acts for the festival:

With musical influences like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Chuck Berry, The Boom Chucka Boys combine the simple sound of classic country, the energy and the beat of ’50s rockabilly and the melodic hook of today’s Nashville to create their own unique sound. Guaranteed to keep your toes tapping all night long. After more than 20 years each of playing in different bands, in different genres, Chris Scott, Luanne Carl, Russ Carl, Kent Nixon and Scott Mcknight found each other, and started a band.

All five in the band sing lead, and sing everything from Johnny Cash, Tracy Byrd and Gretchen Wilson to The Rolling Stones and The Tragically Hip. Their harmony is second to none, as they all sing, and after listening to them, you can definitely tell they have been inspired by such groups as The Eagles.

Charlie Major is more Mellencamp than Merle. His lyrics champion the ‘Blue Collar Hero’ in a manner that resonates of Springsteen and other roots rock legends, but it is in the country music format that Major finds his home.

Rising to the forefront of the Canadian Music scene in the early to mid-Nineties, Major had a heyday at radio as he became the first Canadian artist to score six BDS Number 1 hits off of his debut album. Nine more chart-topping hits would follow, and he would crisscross the world headlining tours and connecting with his fans at fairs and festivals.

He has sold nearly half a million records in Canada alone and won three Juno Awards and seven CCMAs, but you wouldn’t know it to meet him, and he would not tell you. He wears the cloak of humility, just like the hardworking folks that he represents in his music.

Stacie Roper, Rob Shapiro, and Darren Gusnowsky are the collective heartbeat of Hey Romeo and over the past eight years, this trio of accomplished musicians have put in the required hard work, to make the group one of the “real” rising star acts in Canadian country music.

The bright, soulful sound of Hey Romeo becomes the soundtrack for everything else that is going on in day-to-day life. It’s a sound, where classic country phrasing and sentiments like honky-tonk heartaches, dovetail beautifully with the slick steps and bounce of upbeat urban adventures.

Hey Romeo has been a repeat performer during the Ponoka Stampede.

Tera Lee always wanted to be more than just a singer —she wanted to be an entertainer. She plays guitar as well as she sings and her personality shines through every moment she’s on stage.

Right out of high school Lee knew that’s where she belonged. Through the ’90s, she worked hard across Western Canada with her band, all the while networking in the Canadian Country Music industry.

Along the way Lee has opened for Diamond Rio, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Paul Brandt, Gord Bamford and Patricia Conroy. Her latest single is “Good Day to be Me.”

Since 2008 Lee has worked at KG Country in Red Deer. She has been nominated for two CCMA awards for her music and she and her KC Mornings partners won a CCMA award as best on-air personalities.

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