In a pasture just off of Interstate 70 in Alma, Kan., hundreds came together to enjoy music, beer and camaraderie on Friday and Saturday. With a beer tent, several food venders and a busy parking lot, many people spent the better part of two afternoons partying.
The Flint Hills Music Festival started with Charlie Lucas and 80 Proof, then moved into well-known Texas country acts.
After Brandon Jenkins’ bluesy performance before a small but appreciative crowd, Casey Donahew and his band took the stage. With a country sound that many bands at the concert did not possess, Donahew kept the crowd engaged as it grew in numbers, quickly reaching into the hundreds.
“Every time we come up here there’s a great crowd of people and everyone singing our songs,” Donahew said.
Shortly thereafter, a gooseneck trailer filled with people pulled into the grass parking lot and settled down to drink and party.
“We got a buddy who owns land to crash at and we’ll be camping out,” said Darrin Meseke, Alma resident. This way, he said that they could party and remain completely safe.
Then the Eli Young Band came onstage to tremendous applause. At one point, Mike Eli, lead singer, performed a no-look throw of his guitar to the back of the stage in order to don a purple baseball cap. Eli kept the crowd of more than 500 entertained and screaming for more.
“It’s just kind of a small town atmosphere. It’s what we’re good at,” said Eli before the performance.
Eli Young closed out with a stirring rendition of the Beatles’ standard “Come Together,” while bassist Jon Jones stood on a platform in front of the stage playing the main riff. The audience members sang and danced along, then started going their separate ways, some voicing their intentions to sleep in the parking lot until morning, some to camp in a nearby field and many to drive back to the city.
The energy was great and being out in a pasture was amazing … and my chair was stolen,” said Amanda Lile, senior in animal sciences and industry.
More bands and larger crowds were the order of the next day, with performances starting out with K-State graduate Jared Pete Gile singing songs and showing some antipathy for the Nashville music scene.
Gile was followed by John D. Hale and the Kyle Bennett Band before things started heating up with Adam Hood. Hood’s music displayed a much more bluesy blend than many were expecting, with him citing John Hiatt and Delbert McClinton as his biggest influences.
New-Braunfels, Texas-based Bleu Edmondson then came onto stage wearing a Rangers cap and bringing with him a punk-rock outfit augmented with a country swagger. In a performance centering around drinking and one night stands, Bleu played one of his early works requested by fans “from the Internet” and warned the drinking fans that they “might wake up in the morning with [inappropriate] Facebook pictures.”
As Bleu Edmondson finished his set, the crowd amassed for the Randy Rogers Band’s performance. Before the concert, Randy Rogers held a meet-and-greet with fans and offered advice to aspiring artists: “Find a home. Find a place you can play once a week.” The advice served his band well, he said.
“We started Tuesday nights at the Cheatham Street Warehouse,” Rogers said.
After the announcer from KXBZ-FM 104.7 announced the band saying, “If Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix had a love child, then it would be this band,” Randy Rogers came onto stage to thunderous applause. Playing an electrified mix of country and roots rock and roll, the band plugged for its new, untitled album and played songs from its nearly decade-long career.
“I think it is a really good show,” said Shaun Kevwin, Lawerence resident. “[The organizers] did a really good job and brought in some really good bands. Randy Rogers Band is one of the best bands in America right now.”
After the concert, the crowd dispersed, looking forward to a new festival next year.
“I hope they do it again next year. I’ll definitely be here,” said Matt Knetter, resident of Piper, Kan.