Lots of country music artists take time during their performances to acknowledge the work and dedication of American soldiers and workers stationed overseas. These are earnest accolades to be sure, but as well- intentioned as they are, no one can understand what a soldier experiences more than a real soldier.
Enter Craig Morgan, the headline act of this year's WBUL-98.1 FM-sponsored Red, White and Boom festival on Saturday. Morgan served in the Army in Korea and spent 10 years in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
"Our service members have to deal with issues most people will never read about," Morgan said Tuesday by email. "So when given the opportunity, we should, in any way possible, help."
One of the ways that Morgan, known for the country hits Redneck Yacht Club, Bonfire and Almost Home, helps is by frequently performing for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas locales. Morgan also assists Not Alone, an organization that helps soldiers deal with the effects of combat when they return home.
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"Playing for the soldiers is one of the greatest privileges we have as entertainers and is always humbling," he said.
Morgan isn't playing exactly on July 4, but he is proud that his third Lexington performance in little more than a year is part of a country music festival celebrating Independence Day.
"After serving in the Army for so long, celebrating our Independence Day will always be very important to me and my family," he said.
He's scheduled to take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday.
ALSO ON THE BILL
Here is a look at the rest of the performers scheduled to play at Red, White and Boom, and their scheduled performance times:
David Nail: From Kenton, Mo., comes a country champion best known for the top-10 hit Red Light and the Grammy-nominated Turning Home. Both songs come from Nail's debut 2009 MCA album, I'm About to Come Alive. The recording boasts vocal help by Miranda Lambert (on Strangers on a Train), a song co-written by Kenny Chesney (Turning Home), a title track that initially was cut by pop rockers Train and some hearty piano work by the great Chuck Leavell. Scheduled to perform at 8 p.m.
Heidi Newfield: California native Newfield began making country waves a decade ago as part of the hit trio Trick Pony. Her solo fortunes, though, are tied to cash — Johnny Cash. The legend was the inspiration for Johnny and June, a 2008 country hit that earned Newfield multiple Country Music Association Award nominations and a No. 2 spot on the charts for the album that contained the hit What Am I Living For. Her newest single, Stay Up Late, was released in April. 7 p.m.
Ashton Shepherd: She might well be the Red, White and Boom act who is packing the biggest buzz. In the current issue of the decidedly non-country magazine Rolling Stone, Alabama singer Shepherd was labeled as an "artist to watch" and a "hard-nosed country standout." The magazine calls her forthcoming second album, Where Country Grows (due July 12), as "10 smart, soulful songs about small towns, big heartaches and guzzling beer on power boats." 6 p.m.
Randy Montana: Having opened concerts for country-pop heavyweights Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and, most recently, Taylor Swift, this New York native has a solo career that is scheduled for official liftoff later this month with the release of his self-titled debut album. The record features a folkish and anthemic leadoff single (1,000 Faces) and a collaboration with the majestic Emmylou Harris (Last Horse). 5:05 p.m.
Hunter Hayes: At age 6, Hayes was featured alongside Robert Duvall in The Apostle. The Louisiana-born singer went on to sing with Johnny Cash and June Carter, hang with Charlie Daniels at a barbecue and perform Jambalaya with Hank Williams Jr. before a crowd of 200,000. Now, at 19, Hayes is introducing his own voice by way of an acoustic-based but decidedly rocking debut single, Storm Warning. 4:10 p.m.
LoCash Cowboys: Boasting a heavily rockish sound but capable of convincingly carrying a lighter country ballad, the duo of Chris Lucas (a Baltimore native) and Preston Brust (from Kokomo, Ind.) released a self-titled indie debut album in 2008, cracked the country Top 40 earlier this year and will release its second album, This Is How We Do It, later in 2011. The duo's current single is You Got Me. 3:15 p.m.
Stealing Angels: We're not quite sure how this plays into its music, but the lineage of this Nashville vocal trio is pretty wild. Jennifer Wayne is John Wayne's granddaughter, Tayla Lynn is Loretta Lynn's granddaughter and Caroline Cutbirth is a descendent of Daniel Boone. They met for a reality show that never made its way to TV titled (and we're not making this up) All in the Genes. The trio's current single is Paper Heart. 2:20 p.m.
The Lunabelles: Made up of three New York sisters (Olivia, Dominique and Gabby Arciero) and California multiinstrumentalist Alex Kline, The Lunabelles toured with Jonas Brothers as far back as 2005, moved to Nashville in 2009 and signed with Sony's BNA label, which released its debut album. Last month, The Lunabelles played Green Bay's Lambeau Field as part of Kenny Chesney's current tour. 1:30 p.m.
Bush Hawg: Another new acquisition for the Sony labels, Bush Hawg is in the midst of recording its debut album. 12:40 p.m.
Eddie Barber and Off the Wagon: Red, White & Boom's lone local artist, Barber is best known for his performances on the country talent contest series Nashville Star. Citing fellow Kentucky country stars John Michael and Eddie Montgomery as influences, Barber's repertoire runs from hard-core honky-tonk to such unexpected covers as Another Brick in the Wall. Noon.