Boots & Brews Festival 2022: Santa Clarita
It was a very warm and sunny, beautiful Saturday on September 3rd in Santa Clarita, California, with fans lined up outside the gates and ready for another amazing run of Boots & Brews Country Music Festival. This stop on the traveling tour boasted an incredible lineup, featuring some phenomenal talents Avery Anna, Blanco Brown, Morgan Evans, Frankie Ballard and Brad Paisley. With temperatures reaching a scorching 105 degrees, fans were prepared and ready as ever to tackle the heat and hear some of their favorite songs from their beloved local country music station.
As fans entered the festival grounds, all that surrounded you was a sea of cowboy hats and shiny boots.
There was also some stylish outfits worn alongside designated dance partners; everyone was set to have the best time of their lives! To accommodate the fans during these super hot temperatures and to make sure everyone stayed hydrated, free water stations were setup throughout the festival grounds, providing anyone to grab water on-the-go. As you walked along the fields of grass and desert mountaintop views, all you saw were people already up line dancing to the sounds of country music’s biggest hit songs while in line to grab some delicious food or walking around with an ice cold beverage in hand.
As it got closer to showtime, fans made their way to the front of the stage and claimed their spot for the first act: 17-year-old country music sensation singer-songwriter Avery Anna from Flagstaff Arizona. As Avery walked out onto the stage, fans started to clap and cheer her on; she was first discovered at a young age by posting dance and cover song videos on social media and TikTok is where she gets the most views. She is also widely known for her laidback singing videos she would post from the bathtub. Avery has already broken into the spotlight by being featured on a song with American country music band, Parmalee called “Forget You”. With over 1.5 million followers and 27.3 million likes, Avery is a singer that is ready to take on the country music world by storm. During her set, she covered Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”, where she gracefully sang at the piano. She then sung some of her own songs, including “Narcissist” that is already making its way through country radio and being featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday and Apple Music’s Country Risers playlists. The single currently has over 86 million global streams total! Some of her other songs she performed were “Just Cause I Love You”, “Can’t Miss You Anymore” and “Critic”.
With her emotional and heartfelt music, Avery is here to stay and will surely continue to climb the charts.
As the clouds rolled in, the wind began blowing and the heat declined just in time for the second act of the night: American rapper, singer-songwriter and now country artist, Blanco Brown, who was ready to get the party started. As Blanco stormed the stage, he started off by asking “Santa Clarita ,how y’all doing??” As the crowd started to grow, you then heard “Change Gone Come” by Sam Cooke playing with Blanco belting out the lyrics so soulfully before turning the song into “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. As he started to hype the audience up and make them say, Blanco then broke into a dance onstage and got everyone dancing along with him. Next were songs “Georgia Power” and “I Need Love”, both having profound country-meets-hip hop vibes to them. As everyone was grooving and bobbing their heads along to the set, Blanco started to play his hit song “DO SI Do”, a song featuring a superstar deejay and producer Diplo. At one point, Blanco pointed and grabbed a little girl’s hand and pulled her up onto the stage to dance with him. Later in the set, Blanco asked the crowd to put their hands up to get them pumped even more before launching into a “Mrs. Jackson” turned “Hey Ya” mashup by Outkast. “Country Time”, “Bad Man” and “I’ll Never” were just some of Blanco’s singles that he performed after that.
Towards the end of the set, Blanco spoke about his single “Just The Way”, which features Parmalee, thanking the crowd for listening to it constantly and making it the number one song on country radio in the U.S. and Canada. As a surprise, Blanco got down off of the stage and handed out roses to attendees while serenading them. Fans were in shock as they danced and took selfies with Blanco. At the end, “The Get Up” began and that’s when the party continued. There was screaming, group dancing and excitement in the air, as the viral 11x platinum song hit the chorus.
Everyone knew the words; you could tell no one wanted the set to end.
The third act of the night was an Australian-born country music singer and songwriter, Morgan Evans. He started his set with “Young Again” that got fans clapping to the beat. Evans revealed that the song was inspired by “waking up every day, living in the moment and not to take life for granted”. While the dance moves were endless, “Country Outta My Girl” and “Kiss Somebody” (Morgan’s most listened to song ever) were up next, followed by “Song for the Summer”, “Sing Along” and “American Dream Truck”. It was as if a wave of rhythmic dance moves was floating in the atmosphere, causing beer to fly all around. Right after Morgan chugged back some water, he sat down at a piano and started talking about the song “Things That We Drink”, to which was written about his late manager who passed away of 10 years ago. Mid-song, you could see Morgan looking up at the sky as he sang, “Shed a little light on a memory // Kinda makes it feel like you’re with me // I’m still a little lost here without you.” He ended the emotional journey with “Fix You” by Coldplay. As his diehard fans were left smiling and gyrating, Evans used his charming good looks and heavenly brown eyes to complete a Dylan Scott cover of “Hooked” before launching into “Love is Real” and another dancey hit tune “Day Drunk” to take it home.
With fans lining up at the BBQ and taco trucks, the lights went down for the fourth act to start. Country singer-songwriter and guitarist Frankie Ballard kicked off his set by performing a classic cover of Elvis Presley’s “Tiger Man”, which had a mob of fans tearing up the fields with their pulsating and air guitar-playing moves. Some of Frankie’s most popular songs — “Young & Crazy”, “It All Started With a Beer” and “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” — were up next, which had Frankie busting out his best electric guitar solos. As nightfall arrived, “Cigarette”, “Constant Sorrow” and “Helluva Night” (the first single from his second studio album, Sunshine & Whiskey) were played; the mass crowd roared and applauded. With his sleeveless denim jacket and a badass Tiger emblem on the back, Frankie showed off his best dance moves while rocking out on his six-string electric guitar.
As the stage lit up the night sky and the speakers boomed, there were only a few more songs to perform. Closing out the night was a Stealers Wheel cover of “Stuck in the Middle with You”, followed by “Sunshine & Whiskey” and “Soldier”.
Everyone was fired up and energetic, knowing that there was one more act left and it was about to be their favorite one yet.
It was finally time for the headliner to begin and finish the night off strong. American country singer Brad Paisley slowly walked out onto the stage, with his signature cowboy hat on his head and carrying a colorful and flashy electric guitar. The crowd right away exploded into cheers. Brad started the show off by playing “American Saturday Night Live” — an endless guitar solo-filled melody that shook up the city. More songs that infused the night were “Beat This Summer”, “Perfect Storm”, “Still A Guy”, “Letter to Me” and “Last Time For Everything”… the latter of which had the song title in the famous Stranger Things text font on the screen behind him. Next up was a “Purple Rain” cover, where Paisley gracefully played the most famous and recognizable guitar solo ever.
Around the middle of the set, Brad walked onto the catwalk to burst out a guitar solo; in that moment, fans were shoving their phones up to him to take a selfie, with sharpies in hand and cowboy hats for him to sign. Before Brad started to sing, he thought it would be funny to take a random phone from the crowd and post their Instagram account up on the big screen for others to follow. He then proceeded to take a selfie and post it on the woman’s page. Other hit songs from Brad’s huge catalog on the set list that night were “She’s Everything”, as well as a cover of “Whiskey Lullaby” by Jon Randall. At one point in the show, Brad picked out a lucky young fan and handed her a signed electric guitar. She was ecstatic and her father kept thanking Brad for the gift! It was the same girl who got up onstage with Blanco Brown earlier in the day and received a guitar pick from Frankie Ballard. The magical night of music had to sadly come to a close, ending with “Mud on the Tires” and an encore featuring “Alcohol” and Paisley’s own rendition of “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. Yeehaw till next year!
Photography by Mikayla Ragovin