This Saturday’s forecast for Sonora might be sunny, but expect a storm at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.
That’s because country star Luke Combs will perform his hit songs “Hurricane” and “When It Rains It Pours” when he headlines the inaugural Unruly Country Brew N’ Que Festival.
In addition to Combs, the festival will feature live music by rising country stars Tucker Beathard, Jackson Michelson, Chris Bandi and Luke Pell of “The Bachelorette.”
Combs, a 27-year-old native of Asheville, North Carolina, released his debut album, “This One’s For You,” in June.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
On YouTube, the video for “Hurricane” has racked up nearly 80 million views, while “When It Rains It Pours” — released just last month — already has more than 20 million views. He’s been a constant presence this summer on the iTunes charts, and has played the country’s largest festivals, including Bonnaroo and Stagecoach.
After attending Appalachian State University, Combs built his fan base by delivering more than 250 shows a year.
Combs followed his calling to Nashville, Tennessee, and put out self-released EPs before dropping “This One’s For You.”
Following this weekend’s performance in Sonora, Combs is scheduled to appear Monday on Jimmy Kimmel Live! followed by sold-out shows in Hollywood and Bakersfield.
Meanwhile, Beathard has performed with artists such as Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert.
“I love anything with great melodies and I’m drawn to the little things,” he said. “When I listen to Led Zeppelin, I focus on John Bonham’s drums. Or Joe Walsh’s guitar licks in the Eagles. And Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Family Tradition’ is as country songwriting as it gets.”
Beathard certainly knows something about family tradition, taking cues from dad Casey Beathard, who wrote Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” and Eric Church’s “Homeboy.” The latter, in fact, was inspired by Beathard, who admits to going through his own rebellious phase.
Giving up a college baseball scholarship to dive into songwriting, he came out better for his diverse experiences and documented those wild times in the wise-beyond-its-years “Momma and Jesus.”
The track is one of many in contention for his debut album, being overseen by producer Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon).
“I’ve always been a huge fan of deep songs, and I’ve always liked poems,” Beathard said. “I’m an introvert, but writing songs that go beneath the surface allows me the chance to open up a piece of myself.”
Raised in Corvallis, Oregon, Michelson kicked off his country career on the West Coast, carving out a sound that blended the rootsy twang of the American South with the sunny, feel-good spirit of the Pacific Coast.
“Corvallis is a small college town,” he said. “You go to school, and in the summer you work on the farm starting at age 12. You either bale hay or drive the combine. That’s what most kids do, every single year.”
By the time he moved to Nashville, he’d already spent years on the road, growing his fan base show-by-show and earning a record contract with Curb Records in the process.
Songs such as “The Good Life,” which became a popular track on SiriusXM radio, helped spread Michelson’s music to new fans across the country. Most of the grunt work, though, was done on the road, where Michelson delivered more than 100 shows per year. He opened for artists such as Lee Brice, Blake Shelton and Frankie Ballard, earning new fans along the way.
“Crowd engagement is so important to me,” he said. “My show is just as much about the band paying attention to the crowd, as the band putting on a show for the crowd. It’s not just about us; it’s about the experience we’re all gonna have together.”
Rounding out the entertainment will be Pell and Bandi, both based in Nashville.
Playing everything from Garth Brooks to R. Kelly and Ed Sheeran to Marvin Gaye, Bandi strives to keep his shows upbeat and fun for the crowd.
“I have a band that I travel with and being out with them, the camaraderie, just seeing the world and the fans and being able to call it a job — it’s pretty cool,” he said.
Live music is only a portion of the entertainment featured at the Unruly Country Brew N’ Que Festival. Other activities include a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned professional barbecue competition, a craft brewery and wine garden, an open bull riding competition put on by Humpz N’ Hornz Bucking Bulls, and a West Coast Cornhole competition.
For the barbecue competition, teams will be coming from all over California to win points towards the state championship next month in Orange County. Awards will be presented at 5 p.m.
Bull riding will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Thirty riders — professionals, amateurs trying to go pro and former pros — will participate.
The cornhole tournament will feature professional referees, boards and bags. All levels can play. Entry fees include entry into festival and one drink per person (two person teams). Local live music will keep players entertained throughout the tournament.
Not sure if you have what it takes to win the pro-style division? Enter the free tournament. The top four teams of the free tournament will be entered into a single elimination round for a chance to win an entry into the pro-style division and win cash prizes.
The craft beer garden will offer six different styles of beer from several breweries.
Sonora-based Indigeny Reserve will offer organic and blackberry ciders.
Indigeny Reserve will also have a lounge set up for people to hang out, sip on craft beers and ciders, and shop the Indigeny pop-up store.
A shaded wine garden will feature wineries from northern California, the Sierra Nevada foothills and Italy.
Tickets can be purchased online or in person at The Bourbon Barrel and Funky Junk in downtown Sonora.
Tickets are $40 advance (plus service fee) or $50 at the gate.
Tickets for children ages 6 to 16 are available for $20. Children 5 and younger are free.
In addition to watching bull riding and the cornhole competition, tickets include line dancing lessons and all live music. The wine and beer gardens will have food and drinks available for purchase.
The Unruly Country Brew N’ Que Festival marks the first event promoted by Trado Restaurant Corporation.