(Editor’s Note: Apologies for this article not making it up on time, I had a serious family emergency that took me out of town Thursday, and I had a weekend full of previously booked activities that kept me from getting this one out until now.)
The Ohio River valley in Madison, Indiana was full of life for the final day of the Roostertail Music Festival. Down on the river boats ran heat races and time trials all throughout the day getting ready for the Main Event races that take place on Sunday of the weekend. In Bicentennial Park the music filled the air early, and kept the beat going all day.
Kicking off the action early was Louisville’s Brent Mathis with a robust, soulful set. With a great band backing him Brent impressed from the stage with a set full of his own original offerings. Having never seen Brent before I was very impressed with the excellent set that he played, and the crowd assembled in the park (Most of which sought what shade could be found as the sky above wasn’t providing a single cloud for cover) seemed to agree, responding appreciatively to each song played.
Up next to the stage was another Louisville act as the band 16 Bones brought their driving hard rock to the hot river valley. They exploded out of the gate washing over the park with a tsunami of intensity, and never let off the gas from start to finish even in the hot July heat.
Click HERE to see our full Roostertail Music Festival Image Gallery from Day 3!
Next up on the stage was the most interesting presentation of the weekend as Edgar Red climbed onto the stage covered in head to toe with a blanket as opera music played. He strode to the center of the stage, suddenly throwing the blanket off, revealing himself guitar in hand and horned viking helmet on his head. He immediately lit into his guitar, and away he and his band ripped with their guitar-fueled rock, whipping the growing crowd into a frenzy.
Towards the end of Red’s set I took a stroll down along the river to check out some of the action on the water. All day I could hear the boats between sets roaring around on the waves. The big, jet engine powered boats skimming across the water are a real sight to see. Seeing them disappear in cascades of water as they corner at each end of the course, watching the spray they kick up in their wakes (Better known as Roostertails,) and seeing the speeds these boats reach up close is quite a treat.
Back up on the stage was the man with a heart you cannot break. Justin Wells roared to life for the growing crowd in Bicentennial Park. The mountain of a man from Lexington was in top form for the Roostertail crowd. Justin has had some vocal cord issues in recent months (nearly rupturing one!) but he’s gotten that under control, and there was certainly none to be found as he played into the late afternoon in Madison. He referenced a couple of times during his set that the new album is done and coming our way sooner than later, and from what he played of it for us on this day it’s going to be a monster, friends.
American Aquarium came to the stage as the sun began to sink to the west. My first time seeing the band (Yes, you read the right) was definitely not a disappointment. Displaying a world-class fire and intensity from the first note to the last fronted by the electrifying B.J Barham the band laid it down heavy on the swelling sea of people in the park. Their intensity only seemed to heighten as the sun sank lower, and that fed right into the crowd who were looking to increase their own rowdiness as the shade spread over them. It was the perfect early-evening blend to set the table for what was left to come.
Click HERE to see our full Roostertail Music Festival Image Gallery from Day 3!
Georgia’s own Brent Cobb was up next, the first of the night’s two headliners. Backed up with an excellent band Brent took command of the stage and the audience gathered to watch him. A frenetic energy accompanied him throughout each song he played. Between songs Brent would take a moment to explain the songs, and what their meaning to him, and why he loved them. Brent played a truly incredible set without a sour note as the crowd continued to swell in the park.
As the stage was switching over for the last set of the night down on the river the first firework exploded in the sky. Launching from a barge out on the river, the Regatta puts on one of the most impressive fireworks displays I have ever seen. I’m not a big fan of fireworks, but even I was thoroughly awed and impressed by the show on display. Lasting nearly 20 minutes in length the display is one of the most impressive parts of an all around impressive weekend.
When the fireworks on the river finished the fireworks on the stage began as Whiskey Myers came out to a thunderous ovation. A massive new wave of people filed into the park from the river banks where they had stayed to watch the fireworks, and the sea of people was impressive sight to see. Even more impressive was the music on the stage. Whiskey Myers threw it down as fast and as hard as the frenzied crowd could pick it up. They played a healthy mix of songs from previous albums as well as songs that will be out on their new album (that many who pre-ordered already have.) It was a raucous and rowdy display from the band, just the kind that they have come to be known for, and they held nothing back, showering the Madison crowd with every not they could.
At one point Brent Cobb sauntered back out on the stage and joined the band for a song. Brent has been touring regularly with the band recently and the energy on display as they collaborated was undeniable. The band played until after the midnight hour, and then came back for a two song encore. it was one hell of a barn burning set to headline the badass Roostertail Music Festival 2019 lineup.
After their set the Roostertail Music Festival staff and volunteers who worked not just during the weekend, but throughout the entire year to bring the event to life were brought on to the stage and showered with thanks by the fans. The team worked tirelessly to make the Roostertail Music Festival one of the best festivals in the country this summer and that is exactly what they did.
Friends, I honestly cannot stress this enough to you: The Roostertail Music Festival and the Madison Regatta are the perfect all-American weekend getaway. World-class everything in a small town setting. It’s what the 4th of July weekend was always meant to be: The Great American Weekend where there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Where memories don’t cost a small fortune to make, but the memories you do make will be worth a small fortune. You simply could not ask for a more price-friendly weekend experience, a more beautiful environment for a music festival, for a more accommodating venue, or for a better team of people bringing the event to life than you’ll find at the Roostertail Music Festival and Regatta.
The weekend returns next year and you’d be making quite the mistake if you aren’t already eyeballing your calendar for a trip to the hills of southern Indiana to be a part of the 2020 Roostertail Music Festival and Madison Regatta.
I want to give a very big thanks to Brent Turner and Matt Wells for allowing me the opportunity to come down and bring this coverage of the 2019 Roostertail Music Festival here to the Country Music Armadillo. Brent reached out to me about being a part of the weekend before the lineup was announced last year, and after attending the 2018 show (Headlined by Turnpike Troubadours) as a fan and loving what I saw I was more than happy to jump on board. I’m already ready for 2020!
I want to give another big thanks to the rest of their excellent team, all of whom could not have been any nicer and more accommodating to me during my time on the ground. Some of the most friendly and helpful folks I have had the privilege to work with, I absolutely appreciate their heart and dedication to this great event.
Thanks to my beautiful wife Melinda for letting me run off on the holiday weekend to do this thing I do. She was supposed to make this adventure with me, but babysitting plans changed late and she had to sit this one out. The only thing that could make Roostertail any better is experiencing it with the love of my life, and we’re going to make sure that happens in 2020.
Lastly thanks to all of you, the readers. Thank you for your support in reading this, thank you for your support of the event if you were there, and thanks to all who stopped to say “Hi” and speak during the weekend. I enjoy seeing old friends and making new ones during these excursions as much as anything else. If you have enjoyed reading about these two days of badass music I sincerely hope you’ll consider coming out to experience it yourself in 2020. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
See you on the banks of the Ohio in 2020!