June 27, 2022

Marshall Tucker Band, Whitey Morgan, Georgia Thunderbolts and more get crowds pumped at Wild Cat Country Fest

The crowd goes ‘wild’

Even though Kelly Smith has seen The Marshall Tucker Band perform almost a dozen times in his life, he was just as eager to grab a close seat to the stage on June 18 during the inaugural Wild Cat Country Fest. Smith was pumped for the concert even more because it was the shortest distance he had to travel to see it.

“I just like their music and it’s never grown old for me,” Smith said.

The 67-year-old from Galesburg was also excited to see The Marshall Tucker Band once again with his grandkids, the oldest is 22 and the youngest is 14. The downtown Newton location reminded Smith of a time he saw the band perform in the downtown of Albany, Missouri, a town of more than 1,600 people.

“It was a nice setting, and it was a smaller town (than Newton). It was a pretty small venue but it was nice,” Smith said. “Now I get to drive 20 minutes to them instead of three or four hours, which I’ve done many a times … I’m excited for Newton to do something like this.”

The Marshall Tucker Band is a group Smith has always connected with, he said, between the southern rock-style musicianship and abundance of instrumental solos. And that flavor of music was certainly on full display when the band hit the main stage of Wild Cat Country Fest.

Earlier in the day, bands like the Outlaw Country Express, Katie & The Honky Tonks, Tyler Richton & The High Bank Boys and Michael Moncada & Whiskey High took the Iowa Stage by storm with outlaw country tunes and some bouts of good ol’ fashioned fiddling.

Of course the show had to go on with performers Diamond Dixie and Sara Darling & Nicole Witt of the Six One Five Collective, who go the crowd up and moving. But it was the Georgia Thunderbolts and Whitey Morgan & The 78s who brought out folks’ inner outlaw with hard hitting guitar riffs.

Wild Cat Country Fest Foundation Chairman Dan Nieland was scurrying about the northwest corner of the Newton town square in a T-shirt and shorts a day before his inaugural music festival took place. For the next several hours, he and his fellow volunteers sweated through the initial setup before the big day.

“We’re getting there,” Nieland said early afternoon June 17. “We’re a couple hours out. But right now we’re staging everything, getting it ready to go, getting it close to where it needs to be and then 3 o’clock we’ll start putting it all together. And then the stage arrives here before too long.”

By this time, the impact of what he and others have got themselves into had started to feel real. To be honest, Nieland said, it felt real about Monday.

“It’s exciting as heck,” he said. “As I’ve told a number of people, you get to that certain point where you kind of stop for just a second and think about the actual show instead of how to put it together. And it’s going to be unlike anything this town has seen in a long, long time.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext 6560 or at cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.