Story & Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Fans braved storm warnings for a Red Dirt Country night at the Missouri State Fair Friday, which featured Mo Pitney, Wade Bowen and Casey Donahew.
The show did end up getting cut short, with Wade Bowen playing a shorter set and State Fair officials clearing the Grandstand as lightning rippled through the air north of Sedalia. After an accident before Sugarland took the stage at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, in which seven people were killed and 58 injured, officials have been quick to take precautions such as Friday night – “better safe than sorry” a member of the State Fair Fire Department commented.
Concert-goers still had a good time from start to finish, with Mo Pitney getting the crowd revved up as soon as he hit the stage. With some fast-paced steel guitar and a cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” in the mix, the crowd was singing along and tapping their feet.
Wade Bowen got the crowd on their feet and hands in the air – despite playing about 25 minutes when the set was cut short and the Grandstand cleared.
After nearly an hour of standing around and drinking beer, fans were allowed to head back to their seats before Donahew hit the stage. It was his first time at the Missouri State Fair, but the seasoned performer put on a great show.
While no rain dropped during the delay, fans were treated to an intimate set that had them dancing and swaying in the aisles. Donahew rotated around the stage with his acoustic guitar and microphone in hand, with fans cheering as he neared the edge of the stage.
Beforehand, he shared what playing at state fairs and similar settings meant to him.
“I like to do big shows, especially with a couple other Texas bands,” Donahew told CMN via telephone. “Rodeos and fairs are some of my favorite places to perform.”
Donahew said he tries to book shows including rodeos and fairs because he tries to circle back home to the Ft. Worth, Texas area where his wife and two sons live. He said he likes the more intimate venues as well, because it gets more personal with the crowd.
“That’s my favorite part, I want to interact, I want (the crowd) to be involved,” he said. “That’s what we try to do every night and put on a show people want to see and want to come back and see and tell their friends about.”
Donahew’s set included songs from across his 15 years as a performer, and ties into a 15th anniversary album due out in October which will feature re-recorded songs as a tribute to his music and fans. While there’s no new material yet, Donahew said he is working on a new single with a new record aimed at a spring release.
The show was ultimately cut short after Fair officials deemed lightning too close and an impending storm too dangerous to allow the concert to continue.
Be sure to check out Central Mo News on Facebook for an extended photo gallery.