Libertyfest 2014 headliner Weston Burt first discovered he wanted to be a country music star as a little fellow watching Garth Brooks perform on the CMA Awards. Today, the Hit Shop Records artist from Fort Payne, Ala. is an up and comer in the country music world with his eyes set on stardom.
"Those who attend Libertyfest 2014 at I-75, Exit 1 Camp Jordan Park in East Ridge should see why many believe the Auburn University graduate is an up and coming country music star," officials said.
Burt will follow a $1,000 Karaoke contest and four other music acts onto the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre stage to perform at 9:15 p.m.
East Ridge Parks and Recreation Director Stump Martin said he believes that Burt is one of those entertainers that makes the crowd feel like they are on stage with him.
"There's no secret that he has some similarities in his performance to Brooks," Mr. Martin said. "And coming from Fort Payne there's no doubt he will likely sing an Alabama Band song before the night is over. Those who attend will be entertained to the point they will get on Facebook and Twitter to tell all their friends about Weston Burt."
The 28-year-old singer and songwriter will bring his style of Southern rock and country to the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre stage.
“There is nothing I love more than to play,” said Mr. Burt, who took a full class load while at Auburn and performed 150 dates annually. “I’ve been plugging away at this for years. I didn’t breeze into town expecting a record deal right away, but it happened almost immediately,” he said of his signing with Hit Shop Records.
"I’ve listened to a lot of Brooks & Dunn and love music with variety,” Mr. Burt said. “If you listen to a Garth Brooks album, who is a hero of mine, he had all kinds of songs: slow, fast and mid-tempo. I try to cover all of that on my album.”
Along with Garth, Weston cites Lynyrd Skynyrd and, of course, the Alabama Band as influences on his music.
“The first song I ever learned was ‘Dixieland Delight,’” Mr. Burt said. “Just being from the same place as them (Alabama) made me realize that it was possible to make it. With Alabama, I saw that ‘it’ could happen.” In 2013 Mr. Burt hit the road on a national radio tour, promoting his debut single “Lucky Sometimes.”
Mr. Burt is not the only talented entertainer coming to Libertyfest 2014 from Fort Payne.
Justin Chain enjoyed his moments of stardom last year on the popular NBC television show, “The Voice.” Mr. Chain impressed the Voice judges, including country music star Blake Shelton.
"Your pitch is amazing," Mr. Shelton told Chain as millions watched on television.
However, don't expect Mr. Chain to show up in Auburn colors to perform. He's an avid Alabama Crimson Tide football fan, who actually wrote and sings a song about his favorite team.
Mr. Chain will take the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre stage at 7 p.m.
His story of how he recovered from injuries suffered when his motorcycle was struck head on by a Trailblazer in 2008 to performing on the national stage is one of courage and determination.
The crash caused injuries so traumatic first responders considered amputating Chain’s legs. He now has 78 screws and 13 plates in his body. He is currently working on his first album, “Real Country.”
Chattanooga’s 2013 Country Music Artist of the Year Davey Smith and the Pearl Snap Preachers Band take the stage at 8 p.m.
Mr. Smith has received nationwide attention with Associated Press and Wall Street Journal stories about the song he wrote for New York Yankees pitcher Shawn Kelly. The song, 'These Boots Ain't Just For Show,' plays over the speakers at Yankee Stadium as the reliever comes from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound.
Mr. Smith cut his teeth on country music with his parents singing in a bluegrass band and he was also influenced by Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.
Forever-popular Chattanooga entertainer Jimmy Tawater and the River City Showcase, featuring Janella Hayes will take the stage at 5:45 p.m.
"Mr. Tawater has been entertaining Chattanooga festival and party goers for more than half a century and has a huge following. Jimmy brings back the fun times for all of us Baby Boomers," Mr. Martin said. "And he has some of the best musicians ever to play in the Chattanooga area backing him up, including Janella Hayes."
Libertyfest 2014, presented by the East Ridge Merchant’s Association and the City of East Ridge, kicks off at 1 p.m. with a $1,000 first place prize for the Karaoke contest winner.
The contestants can enter the 1-4 p.m. competition on the Camp Jordan Amphitheatre stage for no entry fee.
ERMA member Mimi Lowery said she's excited about the competition.
"We thought the Libertyfest Karaoke contest is a great way to get members of the community involved in the event," Ms. Lowery said. "This will be fun and hopefully we will be able to say one day that we helped to discover a star."
The contest will feature contestants taking the stage to sing a song of their choice. Those interested in competing for the top prize are asked to call or text David at 678-520-4533 to enter.
Local group Stallion, who opened Libertyfest in 2013, will play from 4:30-5:30.
Libertyfest will be held on June 28 from 1 p.m. until 10:30 fireworks show at Camp Jordan Park Amphitheatre Stage, East Ridge, 10 minutes from Downtown Chattanooga. Organizers say to expect top entertainment, good food and good fun, wear cool clothes and bring chairs or blankets to sit on. Admission is $10 per person at the gate. For more information: Call 423-463-4391