Night in the Country in Yerington, Nev., was born from humble beginnings and has evolved into one of the biggest country music festivals in Nevada. The event started 15 years ago as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Mason Valley, which now has two sites in Yerington, and has raised more than $71,000 for more than 41 local charities.
The three-day event features a top country lineup of big names and emerging artists who keep boots tapping. Blake Shelton and Old Dominion were on the bill before they hit it big and Billy Ray Cyrus was crooning “Achy Breaky Heart” in the earlier days, as well.
Watch Toree McGee’s video for “Amen”
The festival attendees camp on site and during the day there are bull-riding events and craft beer samplings. Thursday night music starts at 8 p.m. and the rest of the weekend the fun starts at 3 p.m. The 2017 lineup offers three stages on which country music shines.
Toree McGee is the only female artist on the bill this year. She belts out a rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart” that would make Janis proud. McGee has been singing on stage since she was a toddler. Her family owned a biker bar and grill and her grandparents were part of a traveling gospel quartet. McGee cut her teeth singing karaoke in the bar. Music is in her blood.
“My mom was a big country fan. I grew up listening to country radio and calling in for concert tickets. My dad was into rock ‘n’ roll,” says McGee, adding that she was drawn to country music.
“Country music has evolved so much over the years and is open to interpretation.” – Toree McGee
“Country music has evolved so much over the years and is open to interpretation,” she says.
The artist is on an upward spiral with her solo career. The release of the catchy upbeat single, “Amen,” has garnered attention and gained traction with fans. McGee is truly a one-women show. Currently without a label, she runs the business herself, manages the five people in her band, books the gigs and writes the songs. She practices yoga to find her internal connection. As a songwriter, her writing process is never the same, although it often starts with an idea and then a melody.
Drake White & The Big Fire
Emerging artist Drake White is one artist on the brink of breaking out big with his band The Big Fire. His hard-working ethics are paying off. White grew up in northeast Alabama in the Appalachian Mountains. He got started playing music as a kid entertaining his mother’s clients at her home hair salon. Thirteen years ago, he started playing music and packing bars in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
“Me and the bass player have been playing together for five years. Those years are like dog years and feel more like 35 years. I’ve shook a lot of hands and got in my 10,000 hours,” says White, who was chosen as a fan favorite last year. “It’s a direct reflection of how passionate we are about our live shows.”
White co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on their latest album “Spark.” He finds inspiration for his writing by listening to a good record, reading and deep conversation.
“Writing is an outlet where the power lies. Putting pen to paper and being a powerful writer can change the world. What we are saying is important, writing about culture — for the world, for mankind — the music is that megaphone. Songwriting is my passion,” he says.
White is wise and he’s learned much on his journey.
“The greatest lesson I’ve learned is to trust your path and follow your heart. In 10 years of grinding I’ve learned to accept what is happening to truly be happy,” he says.
Drake is a country guy who loves reggae.
“Did you ever play the game, Stuck on an Island? If you could only have one last record what would it be? I’d choose Bob Marley’s ‘Legend,’” says Drake.
The band is on fire, their album is on fire, White’s life is on fire — and the band, well, the name Big Fire says it all. Their high-energy, upbeat country sound and positive lyrics offer the perfect combination. White is having fun, working hard and living his dream.
Want to get your country on? Hit the Night in the Country Festival for some dang good music.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit nightinthecountry.org.