Well friends, here we are. Wrapping up Tumbleweed 2018.
In the previous entries here on the website I told you all about what went on the main, and second stages all weekend long, so in this article we’re gonna focus on some of the things that didn’t get mentioned in those pieces. Those articles were monsters and I tried to keep the word count down as low as I could and so some of the things that didn’t end up in those articles are going to end up right here.
I’m also going to dedicate a good portion of this article to discussing the importance tumbleweed holds to this corner country music as well, because I feel it’s a really special event whose overall impact sometimes gets overlooked.
Tumbleweed 2018 migrated away from the “outlaw country” connotation that the 2017 festival had opting instead to go simply with “real country”. And that’s what Tumbleweed was. Real country. The diverse lineup on display at Tumbleweed last weekend was top to bottom incredible. Not a weak spot within it. When you consider the sheer amount of acts they had on those two stages throughout that weekend it is nothing short of an incredible feat and the entire team at Borda Productions deserves a ton of credit for producing such a great event.
Tumbleweed has earned a reputation as a gathering of respect. Admiration. Friendship. Last year Mickey Lamantia shared his stage with Austin Lee. This year, Austin played his own set on the stage. You already get a sense of that history repeating itself with a guy like Nick Casey who wasn’t on the bill at all but spent plenty of time on stage during the weekend showcasing his talents and introducing himself to wide new audience. The opportunity that a stage like Tumbleweed offers to those individuals can be a huge boost to their careers.
Seeing artist support the other artists on stage was a truly wonderful thing. It started Thursday night, and ran throughout the weekend. Craig Gerdes set front and center watching Dallas Moore on Thursday night, enjoying every second of it. Mickey Lamantia was around all weekend watching everyone. Both wings of the stage were full of people supporting and cheering on Chad Vaughn as he opened up the main stage Friday. I watched Tyler Childers enjoy Dale Watson. Blake Berglund and I spoke about how good Tony Martinez was as he was on stage. Dallas Moore and I stood watching Josh Morningstar. The appreciation and admiration that Tumbleweed affords is special. It’s that sort of thing that truly bolsters and strengthens the movement we are all a part of.
Another very special element that Tumbleweed brings is the collaboration. Brother Dustin James Clark sharing his stage with Austin Lee, Bryan James, and Chad Vaughn on Saturday was one of the highlights of the weekend. Just a bunch of friends playing music. Entertaining. Living out a dream. Together. As friends. Porter Union joined Justin Wells, and the chemistry between the three was so smooth and natural. It happened again later in the afternoon on the main stage when Mickey Lamantia also invited them to share the stage with him. Even Mickey himself got a special surprise during his set as Billy Don Burns surprised Mickey joining in on guitar with the band. Mickey surprised Billy by clearing the stage for him to have for his own for a time.
This whole movement is predicated on what is real. What is genuine. Tumbleweed has helped provide so many real and genuine moments in the last two years, moments that fans get chills thinking about. That they’ll never forget. It has given the artists a platform to introduce themselves to new listeners who may not be familiar with them, and share with them something real.
And that is why Tumbleweed is so important to our movement. Not only does it give the artists and performers a chance to make some really incredible things happen for us fans, but it’s also a gathering for fans. A celebration our our music. Of real country. It’s our yearly reunion to come out and support our movement as a whole. That’s why I love Tumbleweed. It’s not just a show you go to because of who is headlining, or who is on the bill. It is an experience that you go to to support the movement, and to find and fall in love with new artists, and show your support for the ones you already know. To meet the fellow fans who have the same kind of burning passion for the music. To help grow our music, and the community around it. Strangers turn into friends turn into family. That is one of the calling cards of this movement. Tumbleweed gives us an opportunity to grow that just as much as the music, and I absolutely believe in how important that is.
In my opinion Tumbleweed is to our movement today what Willie Nelson’s picnics were to the outlaw movement of the previous generation. It is our chance to gather, and show our support for this kind of music. To show the suits and executives that we want real country music. It’s a chance to bolster our movement so that what those suits and executives say or do doesn’t matter. We’re building our own ivory tower in this corner of country music. Our own sanctuary. Tumbleweed has the chance to lay some of the biggest and heaviest bricks in that tower.
We are really lucky to have such a gathering as Tumbleweed trying to do for our movement what it is. If we can’t come together once a year to support our music as a whole how can we ever hope to raise our music above those who would hold it back?
Tumbleweed 2018 was not a perfect experience. The two stages going at the same time presented some logistical challenges for fans, but also sound issues, mainly for those on the second stage. The event encountered some major problems during setup and had to change some of their plans, and that more than likely had something to do with it. And I’ve already heard that next year they won’t be having both stages playing at the same time, so they are listening to the fans, and doing what they can to make it the best it can be. Sometimes shit happens. It just does. But the team at Borda go out of their way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
While it wasn’t a perfect experience, it sure didn’t miss the mark by much. It was such a wonderful weekend, even in spite of the heat. I didn’t hear of any fights breaking out. Not one. Everyone I encountered during the event was gracious and amicable, appreciating the music and respecting their fellow fans. How going to live shows is supposed to be.
The community presence remained strong in the campground when the stages weren’t going with Outlaw Resurgence hosting a song swap after the Friday stages ended that was attended by many performers and campers and went on until the sun was making it’s climb back into the sky.
Tumbleweed 2018 was just an all out wonderful experience, one of, if not the best I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to try and top it in 2019.
Tickets for the 2019 event are on sale now at the lowest prices they will be, through June 25th. Alabama has already been announced as one of the headliners, and from the sounds of things there are going to be plenty of other big names paired with them on the final bill. Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the best weekend in all of real country music when it rolls around again in 2019! Click here for all the info you’ll need to get yourself on your way to Tumbleweed 2019!
I’d like to give some thanks to some folks for helping make our coverage of Tumbleweed 2018 what it was. First and foremost to Doug Bordegon and his team at Borda Productions for allowing us to do all we did this weekend and cover every aspect of this event that we have. I hope our coverage of their event has been satisfactory. It was truly an honor to be a part of this experience, and I’ll forever be grateful to them for giving us this chance.
Next I’d like to thank the you: the readers. The outpouring of support and appreciation over the last week has been incredible. I had folks coming up to thank me and my team for what we do here before I ever even got into the main grounds. My notifications have been blowing up since before the event was over. The truth is for a long time I never wanted to identify myself as being behind this venture. I didn’t want it to seem like it was about me. And it’s still not. It never will be. It will always be about our artists, our music, and lifting them up and growing them as best we can any way we can. But our evolving methods of coverage here at the Armadillo have dictated that I step out into the open, and the show of support and thanks from you all has been overwhelming. The likes, the comments, the shares for what we do, it all means the world to me.
I’d like to thank all the artists and musicians who took the time to speak with me and lend an autograph to that totally badass autograph prize package we’re giving away next week to the winner of our photo contest. Thanks to Josh Morningstar, Austin Lee, Chad Vaughn, and Blake Berglund for the live interviews. I wanted to do more of them throughout the weekend, but the truth is I stretched myself so thin running back and forth between the two stages like I was on fire to have time, and it was really hard to find a good place to do them with the stages going. It was a brand new feature that we’re going to perfect as time goes on. I’d like to send a special thanks to brother Mickey Lamantia. He’s always treated me right from the time we met, and this weekend was definitely a continuation of that. I wish I could individually thank all the artists and backstage folks who made time for me during Tumbleweed 2018 (Yeah, even you Cooder) but I don’t think it’s possible to compile the whole list, but you all know who you are. Thanks.
Thanks to my team for helping out with our coverage. Michael Gregory manning the Twitter machine, Monica Lappa the empress of Instagram. Amanda Carlon for sharing every damn thing I do like her life depends on it. To my extended team, brother Gary Hayes for all the encouragement and insight. Josh Wallace for some of the best talks of the weekend. Argo at home, encouraging me the whole way. Jimmy Wade, Nick Dunnam and the KVOK boys out of Oklahoma for all their support. All the friends that made the journey with me and tried to help me do what they could to help. Steve, Rachel, Ashley. My big sister Amy who went along and took photos all weekend and enjoyed a ton of artists and shows she’d never seen before.
Finally I’d like to wind this down by thanking my wife, the love of my life Melinda. You all have no idea how supportive of what I do she is. I’d like to think most wives would put a man in the ground for doing all the things I do. Not mine. She has jumped right off into the deep end with me, helping with every aspect of the operation where she can. Her love and support help make this all as possible just as much as my participation.
Thank you. Thank you all.
-The Country Music Armadillo