DENVER – The biggest stage in Lincoln County is set to host its most star-studded lineup to date, with a who’s who of country music veterans and newcomers scheduled to perform at the 19th annual Lincoln County DABA Fireworks Festival June 29.
“Basically, I’m in Nashville within two weeks after the previous year’s show ends looking to build a lineup for the following year,” event producer Ronnie Caldwell said. “Once there, I’ll sit down with agencies and just start bouncing around ideas for the following year. I’ll go see an act or two, and then around October is when we start getting serious with negotiations.”
While past installments have featured a headlining act preceded by one or two opening sets, this year’s festival includes three performers worthy of top billing for the show at East Lincoln High School.
Jeff Bates, a Nashville-based recording artist, is the elder statesman of the lineup as he’s been a staple on the country music charts since his debut more than 15 years ago.
“I signed with RCA (Records) back in 2003, and I’ll be performing all of the fan-favorites we’ve recorded over the years,” Bates said. “I’ve got a great fan base in North Carolina, and they’ve been really, really good to me. I like to stay after every show, meet the audience and sign autographs to thank my fans for letting me come sing to them.”
Bates has released a total of eight albums, including a Christmas album, and has delivered seven Billboard charting singles with hits like “Long Slow Kisses,” “The Love Song” and “I Wanna Make You Cry.” Bates will also perform several songs from his most recent album, “Troublemaker,” which was released in November 2017.
“It’s called ‘Troublemaker’ because I’ve always been one and I’ve married a few,” Bates said. “It’s an album that’s a little rougher around the edges and a bit more raw than my older music. I went into it with the mindset of just putting together a bunch of good songs that tell more stories about my life.”
In addition to his original music, Bates will also perform several Conway Twitty songs. Bates developed a close relationship with the late country music legend, and recently released an album that includes six renditions of Twitty’s classics.
“The lineup for this festival is amazing because you’ve got the past, present and future of country music all in one show, and it’s a great thing,” Bates said. “For my part, I’m excited to play some classic country music for the younger folks who maybe aren’t familiar with my older songs.”
Joining Bates in the fireworks festival lineup will be Parmalee, whose name is a nod to the group members’ small hometown in eastern North Carolina.
“I tend to describe our sound as the country side of a rock band,” Parmalee lead vocalist Matt Thomas said. “We like guitars and harmonies, but most importantly we just want everyone to have a good time. We’re going to deliver a high-energy performance that’ll hopefully be fun for everyone involved.”
Parmalee broke through in 2013 with the release of their single, “Carolina,” which became a platinum-certified, chart-topping hit.
“It’s been a great ride,” Thomas said of the experience since breaking through. “It’s been like riding a lightning bolt because more has happened in the past few years than the previous 10 years. We always wanted to be out here on the road, and touring the world while playing music is the best job on earth, so it hasn’t disappointed. This is what you work for so many years to achieve, and we’re still working.”
Parmalee released their latest single, “Be Alright,” in March, and is currently in the studio working on new music.
Rounding out the trio of performers is Lincolnton native Kelby Costner, who will be taking the fireworks festival stage for the second consecutive year.
“It’s always awesome coming back home,” Costner said. “The hometown crowd is always great and it’s a blast to see everyone I grew up with in the audience enjoying the show.”
While Costner is still relatively new on the scene, his music harkens back to the old-school country sound he grew up on.
“I grew up in the ‘90s and I’m still a big fan of that era of country music,” Costner said of his influences. “My favorites are Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt, so those guys and that era are what really inspired my sound. I like to keep my shows upbeat with some good, rocking country songs because I love to have a good time on stage.”
Costner is currently working on his debut album with Grammy-nominated producer and Country Music Awards Songwriter of the Year Ross Copperman, who has worked with other artists like Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton. The lead single off that album, “I Need My Girl,” was released in January, and was followed by the release of “Somewhere” in March.