Preview: 2011 Suwannee River Jam

 Posted by at 8:53 am on April 7, 2011
Apr 072011

The Suwannee River Jam celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary this year at the Spirit of The Suwannee River Park and Campground in Live Oak, FL this April 27th through the 30th.  The park offers RV and Tent camping, and you can purchase single-day tickets or weekend passes by clicking here.  If camping isn’t your kind of thing (you really should give it a try, it’s great!!), there are also several hotels in the area ready to serve you.  To see a list of them, click here.  This year’s lineup offers a great mix of hot new stars and established veterans with several hit singles.  Here’s a run down of what’s in store!

Concert Schedule

Wednesday, April 27th – Blackberry Smoke

Thursday, April 28th – Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann, Luke Bryan

Friday, April 29th – LoCash Cowboys, Kellie Pickler, Gary Allan

Saturday, April 30th – Darryl Worley, Phil Vassar, Joe Diffie, Ronnie Dunn

About the Artists

Blackberry Smoke – Blackberry Smoke is one of the top Southern Rock bands out there today.  They’ve shared the stage with such legends as ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Shooter Jennings, Travis Tritt, and more.  They are currently on tour with the Zac Brown Band, and have a full schedule of shows coming up this year.  Even though Southern Rock doesn’t get much radio airplay, they are sponsored by such major corporations as Jim Beam and Gibson Guitars and are on the same record label (Southern Ground Records) as the Zac Brown Band.  Blackberry Smoke kicks things off at the Suwannee River Jam by playing the Pre-Party Wednesday night.  To learn more about Blackberry Smoke, check out their website here.


Lee Brice – Little-known fact:  Lee Brice was the long snapper in college for the Clemson Tigers football team before an arm injury pushed him towards a music career.  Lee was originally known as a talented song-writer, and holds some pretty impressive records.  He co-wrote the Garth Brooks #1 smash hit “More Than a Memory,” which is the only single to ever debut at #1 on the weekly radio air-play charts.  Lee’s breakthrough single, “Love Like Crazy,” holds the record for the longest run on the weekly charts (46 weeks), as well as the record for the slowest climb into the Top 10 of the weekly charts.  Another random fact about the song, “Love Like Crazy” – Even though the song only peaked at #3 on the weekly charts, it was on the chart so long that it ended up being the #1 song of the year on country radio in 2010.  Lee also co-wrote the Tim McGraw hit “Still,” as well as songs cut by many other artists on their albums.

Lee Brice started off as a solo artist in 2007, where he had mild success with his first 2 charted songs, “She Ain’t Right” (peaked at #29) and “Happy Endings” (peaked at #32).  His next single was “Upper Middle Class White Trash,” but after that song peaked at only #44, the album these songs were slated to be on (Picture of Me) was scratched.  He came back with a vengeance with the record-setting “Love Like Crazy,” and is now enjoying the success of his first released album Love Like Crazy as his latest single, “Beautiful Every Time” is climbing up the charts.

Lee Brice is going to be busy hitting the road this year, mixing in his own tour dates with dates on the Country Throwdown Tour (headlined by Willie Nelson) and as a co-headliner on the Higher Education Tour with Jerrod Niemann.  Speaking of Jerrod Niemann….

Jerrod Niemann - Photo by Leslie Paczosa

Jerrod Niemann – Just like his buddy Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann got his start in Nashville as a songwriter.  In 2001, Garth Brooks asked him to collaborate with songwriter Richie Brown.  Those sessions produced 3 songs for Garth…”Good Ride Cowboy,” “That Girl Is A Cowboy,” and “Midnight Sun.”  Jerrod has also had songs recorded by Julie Roberts, Neal McCoy, Flynnville Train, Jamey Johnson, John Anderson, and Zona Jones.

Even though he was a successful songwriter, Jerrod’s heart was in being a solo artist singing his own songs.  After 2 record deals fell through, he hit rock bottom, gained 60 pounds and didn’t write for a year.  After a reality check from his buddy Jamey Johnson, who went through similar bouts of depression, Jerrod got to work on making an album and lost the weight he had gained.  The result was so good that Arista Nashville signed him up and released the album as it was, with no changes.  The move paid off as the album debuted at #1, as did the single “Lover, Lover,” which is a remake of a  Sonia Dada song titled, “You Don’t Treat Me No Good.”  His follow up, “What Do You Want,” is currently at #5 on the charts, poised to make the move to #1 by the end of this month.

Luke Bryan - Photo by Leslie Paczosa

Luke Bryan – If you’re sensing a theme here, you are correct.  Luke Bryan also got started in the music business as a songwriter.  One of his first cuts ever recorded was by Travis Tritt, and it was the title track of his 2005 album, “My Honky Tonk History.”  The biggest hit he wrote for someone else was the #1 smash hit for Billy Currington, “Good Directions,” which spent 3 weeks at #1.  “Good Directions” was peaking on the charts as Luke’s debut single, “All My Friends Say” (from his debut album, I’ll Stay Me), was climbing the charts.  It peaked at #5 on the charts, and was followed up by “We Rode in Trucks,” which struggled by peaking at #33.  His next single is a crowd favorite titled “Country Man,” and it peaked at #10.  His efforts helped him score the 2010 ACM Award for Top New Solo Artist.

His second album, Doin’ My Thing, was full of radio-ready hits, but his label chose to only release 3 songs from it.  The first one was “Do I,” which Luke co-wrote with Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum.  Not to be left out, Hillary Scott sings background vocals on the track.  In a cruel twist of irony, “Do I” got stuck at #2 on the charts, as Lady Antebellum’s smash hit “Need You Now” stayed at #1 for multiple weeks, blocking Luke from his first ever #1.  It didn’t take him long to get that under his belt, however, as his next single, “Rain is a Good Thing” hit #1 a few months later.  His last single, “Someone Else Calling You Baby” also hit #1, making for a pretty successful 2nd album.  Also of note on that album was a remake of a the R&B song, “Apologize.”

His new single, “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” has just been released, and is quickly moving up the charts.  It will be the lead single off of his upcoming album, which has yet to be named or given a release date.  In the meantime, Luke is currently promoting his 3rd Spring Break EP album, Spring Break 3…It’s a Shore Thing. Luke will be on the road this year with The Band Perry as they open for Tim McGraw.


LoCash Cowboys - photo by Mike Carroll

LoCash Cowboys – Comprised of Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, the LoCash Cowboys are a couple of rowdy rockin’ country singers.  They put on high-energy show and are very entertaining to watch live.  Their debut single, “Here Comes Summer” is a catchy tune perfect for this time of year.  Their current single, “Keep in Mind” is nothing like the rest of their music, yet shows their versatility proving that they’re not “just a couple of crazy party animals.”  Their album, This Is How We Do It, is in the works and hopefully we’ll see it out soon.  These guys are very fan-friendly, and it’s not uncommon to find them walking around mingling with fans at a concert venue before or after they perform.  Once you see them live, you will be a fan of them too.


Kellie Pickler – Kellie Pickler signed a record label deal after finishing 6th on American Idol in 2005.  Before joining American Idol Kellie was a Roller Waitress at a local Sonic Restaurant.  Her debut album Small Town Girl, which went gold, featured 3 singles…”Red High Heels” (peaked at #15), “I Wonder” (peaked at #14), and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind” (peaked at #16).  “Red High Heels” is a sassy “night on the town” song, “I Wonder” is a great, heartfelt song about her mother, who gave her up when Kellie was young.  Her second album Kellie Pickler debuted in the Fall of 2008 featuring 4 singles…”Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” (peaked at #21),  “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” (peaked at #14),  “The Best Days of Your Life” (Duet with Taylor Swift) was her first Top 10 single , and “Makin’ me Fall in Love Again” (peaked at #30).  In 2009 Kellie was named “Worlds Sexiest Vegetarian” as well as named Country Weekly’s “Sexiest Female Country Star.”  In January of 2011 Kellie married song-writer Kyle Jacobs, who Co-Wrote Garth Brooks’ “Every Mile a Memory” with Lee Brice.


Gary Allan –  Gary Allan was discovered when he left a demo tape in the glove-box of a car he sold while he was a used-car salesman.  His career has seen it’s ups and downs, including the darkness of losing his wife and having to raise their children without her.  It has led him to write and perform some emotionally powerful songs, and you can see and feel the pain in his eyes while he performs some of the songs inspired by that dark period.

Gary Allan has released 8 studio albums (3 went Platinum for over 1 million copies sold, 3 went Gold for 500,000 copies sold) and a Greatest Hits album  (also went Gold) that have produced 25 charted-singles.  Of those 25 singles, 3 of them were #1’s…”Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” and “Nothin on But The Radio.”  Songs that peaked in the top 10 include “Her Man,” “It Would Be You,” “Right Where I Need to Be,” “The One,” “Best I Ever Had,” “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” and “Watching Airplanes.”  Other well known hits include “Smoke Rings in the Dark,” “Loving You Against My Will,” “Man of Me,” “Songs About Rain,” “A Feelin’ Like That,” “Learnin’ How to Bend,” “Today” and “Get Off on the Pain.”

Gary just kicked of the “Get Off on The Pain” Tour after having a massive throat surgery in November of 2010.  Get Off on The Pain is also the title of Gary’s newest album, which includes the singles “Get Off on The Pain,” “Today,” and the most recent release “Kiss Me When I’m Down.”

Darryl Worley - Photo by Leslie Paczosa

Darryl Worley – Darryl Worley is a Tennessee native who grew up around music, as his mother sang in the church choir.  Darryl is a graduate of the University of North Alabama, where he obtained a degree in Biology with a Major in Chemistry.  Darryl was once featured in Playgirl magazine in a non-full nude photo shoot.  Darryl is known for his annual Tennessee River Run, which raises funds for his charity that then distributes them to other charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Darryl has had six studio albums produce 19 singles including three #1’s…”I Miss my Friend,” “Have You Forgotten” and “Awful Beautiful Life.”  Some of his other well known singles include “When You Need My Love,” “A Good Day to Run,” “Second Wind,” “Family Tree,” “Tennessee River Run,” “If Something Should Happen,” “Nothin’ But a Love Thang,” “I Just Came Back From a War,” “Tequila on Ice” and “Sounds Like Life to Me.”

Darryl’s most recent album God & Country includes his controversial single “Keep The Change,” which isn’t getting much airplay due to the controversial nature of the song in response to President Obama’s campaign call for change.  Darryl is also a frequent visitor to the troops overseas as part of the USO Tours.


Phil Vassar – Phil Vassar came onto the scene as a heralded song-writer, having earned the 1999 ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year award.  He has written such hits as “My Next Thirty Years” and “For a Little While” for Tim McGraw, “Bye, Bye” and “I’m Alright” for Jo Dee Messina, “Little Red Rodeo” for Collin Raye, and “Right on the Money” for Alan Jackson.  Phil was given his chance at a solo career in 2000 when he signed his first recording contract, which he turned into 5 studio albums, 2 #1 singles, and 19 charted releases.  His #1 hits were “Just Another Day in Paradise” and “In a Real Love,” and other notable singles include “Carlene,” “Six-Pack Summer,” “That’s When I Love You,” “American Child,” “I’ll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song),” “Good Old Days,” “Last Day of My Life,” “Love is a Beautiful Thing,” and “Bobbi With an I.”

Phil just recently announced a new title for his career…not only is he a song-writer, pianist, and performer, but he can now add record label owner to his resume.  First on tap for Vassar’s new record company called “Rodeowave Entertainment” is Phil’s 7th album which will be a Live CD/DVD Combination that was recorded in Nashville.


Joe Diffie - photo by Mike Carroll

Joe Diffie – Joe Diffie has had a long, successful career entertaining fans all around the world, and a glance at his discography proves it.  He has released 9 country studio albums, 1 bluegrass album, a Christmas album, and 5 compilation albums highlighting some of his 34 singles various Greatest Hits-style collections.  Of those 34 singles, 5 made it to #1 on the charts.  Those were, “Home,” “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Pickup Man,” and “Bigger Than the Beatles.”  Other notable hits include, “Ships That Don’t Come In,” “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “John Deere Green,” “So Help Me Girl,” “Texas Size Heartache,” “A Night to Remember,” “It’s Always Somethin’,” “In Another World,” and “Tougher Than Nails.”

Joe Diffie has recently joined Rounder Records after leaving Broken Bow Records, and released “Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album” in late 2010.  Joe Diffie has not only won an ACM award but also a Grammy award for 2 different collaborations…one with George Jones and another with Marty Stuart.  Joe Diffie’s two oldest children Parker and Kara auditioned at the end of 2010 for American Idol, but unfortunately were not selected.  You may see one or both of them share the stage with him, especially during a certain cover song from a certain George Clooney movie (can’t give away the surprise!)


Ronnie Dunn - photo by Mike Carroll

Ronnie Dunn – Most notably known for his role as one half of Brooks & Dunn, Ronnie Dunn has now embarked on a solo career. His current single “Bleed Red” is currently working its way up the charts, soon to be a #1 smash, and his debut Solo Album is set to be released June 7th.   If Ronnie performs anything like years past as part of Brooks & Dunn this will surely be a great performance, and seriously, do we really need to tell you how awesome he was while with Brooks & Dunn??  I’m guessing we can expect a good sampling of his new album, as well as a run-down of many of the Brooks & Dunn classics that have made so many of us fans of his unique vocals.


So what day are you most looking forward to attending?  How about which performer are you most looking forward to?


  • Lori D. Leverette

    I’m looking forward to Saturday night….can’t wait to see Ronnie Dunn!!