By Joshua Wallace

Tumbleweed 2018 was an amazing weekend of real country music from top to bottom.  There were 2 days and 3 nights of killer lineups across 2 different stages. Sure, it was a sweltering 95+ degrees during the day without relief in sight, but that didn’t phase people from enjoying some good music.  Tumbleweed 2018 kicked off Thursday night with a pre-show party featuring Sol Records recording artists Craig Gerdes and Dallas Moore among other independent country music recording artists in an evening titled “Rise Of The Independents”.

Evan Bartels

The evening kicked off with Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes.  I was not very familiar with their music but I quite enjoyed what I heard.  They did an amazing cover of the Cody Jinks hit “Cast No Stones” that became the first sing-a-long of the weekend.  I look forward to hearing more from this band.

Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes

Mickey Lamantia Acoustic

Up next was an acoustic set from Mickey Lamantia.  Mickey also had a full band set scheduled for Saturday at the main stage, so this had a bit of a different feel to it.  It kind of reminded me of what you might hear on Mickey’s Whiskey Wednesday Facebook show with plenty of covers and originals mixed in.  Mickey’s set also featured guests including Bryan James and Austin Lee who joined Mickey in an acoustic take on the Waylon Jennings hit “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”.  This set had me ready to hear Mickey’s full band later this weekend.

Mickey Lamantia feat. Bryan James and Austin Lee

Josh Morningstar

Mickey Lamantia was followed by Josh Morningstar.  Readers of Gary Hayes Country are very familiar with Morningstar, but there were quite a few here who were not.  Josh has a quality about him on stage as he sings his songs and tells his stories that cannot be duplicated on a studio album.  His stories help make each song as he goes on through the set. My favorite of the evening was his rendition of the story behind “As Long As You Ain’t Coming Back” off the Songs For Fools With Broken Hearts album.  It is always refreshing to hear these familiar stories in front of an audience who might be hearing them for the first time.

Josh Morningstar

Craig Gerdes

Craig Gerdes and his band

Up next was Sol Records recording artist Craig Gerdes.  He released his debut album for Sol Records this year titled Smokin, Drinkin, and Gamblin.    I loved the live version of “Dead In A Box In Kentucky” which is my favorite song on that record.  This set featured many cuts from that album along with select covers from the likes of Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck.  Speaking of Johnny Paycheck, Craig’s band featured Jim Vest on pedal steel guitar this evening. Jim Vest played on Johnny Paycheck’s original take of “Slide Off Your Satin Sheets” and was featured on Craig Gerdes cover of it.  It was a real treat to watch a master of the pedal steel guitar go to work in this set. This was one of the highlights of this evening.

Jim Vest on the pedal steel guitar

The Dallas Moore Band

Finally, my Thursday night ended with a set from Dallas Moore.  I have been a fan of Dallas Moore for years now but this was my first time seeing him live.  The wait was well worth it as I was treated with many righteous renderings of songs from across Dallas’s catalog.  He played a lot of his new album Mr. Honky Tonk including my favorites “Mr. Honky Tonk” and “Shoot Out The Lights”. Dallas also touched on plenty of back catalog tunes such as “Texas Tornado” and “Up On That Mountain”.  Chuck Morpurgo was on fire this evening on Dallas’s lead guitar. I am really looking forward to seeing them again very soon.

Dallas Moore and Chuck Morpurgo

I did not get a chance to see the sets from Austin Lee or Evan Webb.  I have heard reports that both brought down the house and are well worth catching live if you get the chance.  

This was the pre-show evening of the festival and it was also a first chance to see the festival grounds. I knew from the first moment I walked in that the Tumbleweed Tavern with air conditioning would be a place I would frequent.  It was a larger building with tables and chairs set up around window unit air conditioners and ceiling fans.  The building also featured real restrooms which were very welcome when they were working.  The entire set-up was a welcomed break from the overbearing heat of the weekend.  I will be talking in more detail about the festival grounds in my later reports.  Look for reports on Friday and Saturday at Tumbleweed Country Music Festival soon.

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