By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
With temperatures in the 20s, the winter season is upon us; it’s hard to imagine a warm up any time soon. But there is a bit of news that is sure to heat things up…
The Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest is announcing yet another entertainment act for the 2013 fair, just six months away. Sheryl Crow, known for hits in such genres as rock, pop, adult contemporary and folk, will soon release her first country music album. With that, her appearance on the stage here in Monticello, will help to highlight that anticipated country album!
Crow has had such hits as “All I Wanna Do,” “Everyday is a Winding Road,” “The First Cut is the Deepest,” “If It Makes You Happy,” “Soak Up the Sun” and “Strong Enough.” She’s succeeded in collaborations with the likes of Kid Rock, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Sting and Willie Nelson, just to name a few.
Her list of awards includes many Grammys, several American Music Awards and a People’s Choice Award.
Sheryl Crow’s music career, having been inspired by musicians in many genres, started in the early 1990s and continues to take off again today. With seven albums, not to mention lending her voice and songs to a plethora of movie soundtracks, Crow’s yet-to-be-titled newest country album will certainly add to her list of hits.
In an interview with “Country Weekly,” Crow spilled the beans on her first all-country album and about officially stepping into the genre. While many of her songs and collaborations (such as “Picture” with Kid Rock) have been featured on numerous country music radio stations, on country award shows and on Country Music Television (CMT), this will be Crow’s first time in the genre herself as a solo career.
Crow’s country album is slated to be released later this year. The first single from her country album is set to debut this March!
Her interview with “Country Weekly” quoted Crow as saying, “I think it’s the best format if you like songs as a forum. Songs that are melodic and lyric-driven. That’s what I’ve always loved. There isn’t a home for that outside of country consistently.”
Opening for Sheryl Crow at the GJCF on Thursday, July 18, at 8 p.m. will be country hit-maker Gary Allan. He’s had 24 singles on the Hot Country Songs Billboard charts: “Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On but the Radio,” “Right Where I Need to Be” and “Watching Airplanes,” and more.
Allan has had a great country music career and continues to make hits, with “Set You Free,” his ninth album. The timing of this fair announcement could not have come at a better time, as Allan’s newest album will be released in stores in just a few days on Jan. 22!
Little unknown fact, “Set You Free” is the first time Gary Allan plays the guitar on one of his own albums. Throughout his decade-long career and then some, Allan has received some note-worthy nominations in the business: CMA, CMT video music and Academy of Country Music.
Tickets for Sheryl Crow and Gary Allan go on sale starting Monday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m. online only. Ticket prices are $35 for the track, which will be standing room only. The amphitheater and reserved hillside will be $25. As always, there is plenty of free hillside seating as well, with perfect views of the stage.
Sheryl Crow appeared at the Iowa State Fair in 2010. Jones County Fair Manager John Harms said she put on quite a show then and expects the same and more for 2013 here in Jones County. With a new country album and hits spanning a decade or more, Crow will no doubt please concert-goers.
”She has lots of songs people recognize,” Harms remarked. “But now she’s making her formal transition into country music. There’s a lot of marketing hype from her label.”
Harms expects a “full-blown” production between Gary Allan and Sheryl Crow’s performances.
“He’s a good fit to open up the show,” Harms said of Allan.
In choosing the right act for the GJCF, Harms said several factors come into play. The fair has a wish list of sorts, with names of acts they always hope to bring to the stage.
“With people like Lady Antebellum, they do real well that you have to consider them for a second year.” Lady A, as they are affectionately known, performed in 2010 and 2011. “They sold out so fast!” Harms said of ticket sales.
Speaking of tickets, Harms commented that tickets for the Keith Urban concert on Saturday, July 20, “sold well and sold out quickly.
“We sold more tickets for that concert at this point in the game, more than any other concert,” he said. However, there are plenty of opportunities to see the concert (Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch) on the free hillside. There are some scattered seats available in the amphitheater. Harms said they will do a “Pack the Park” campaign a few weeks before fair time to pull in people for the hillside areas.
The entertainment also has a bit to do with personal preference. Harms, a fan of country music, said this genre is the most popular form of music out there today.
Securing the right act has a lot to do with routing and booking. Harms said a few genres don’t want to book early or commit too soon. That doesn’t necessarily work for the fair here, as they like to secure a deal early enough to sell tickets well before the fair.
Cost is also a factor.
“Paying half a million dollars is nothing anymore,” Harms said of paying for a headlining act, such as Keith Urban.
With a new, permanent stage and ease of accessibility, Harms said the GJCF is “on the radar. We’re able to have more and more opportunities.”
Harms said he heard country musician Blake Shelton was quite impressed with the stage after performing here last summer.
After a record year in 2012, Harms said, “What we do here seems to work. I can’t say we’ll never repeat it. But we don’t know how long it’ll last either.”
As the hype around the fair entertainment grows, fair-goers are always anxiously awaiting the announcements.
“With the level of entertainment and the history of this fair, people are always in a good mood and want to have a good time when they come through our gates,” Harms said.
The 2013 GJCF takes place July 17-21. To purchase tickets, visit their website at