5 acts to see at Country Thunder - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

5 acts to see at Country Thunder

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:58 pm | Updated: 12:40 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

More than 100,000 people are expected to converge in the desert outside Florence, about an hour's drive southeast of the Valley, this week for the annual four-day Country Thunder music festival.

This year's festival has been moved up a day in the week to a Wednesday-through-Saturday run. Opening day will consist of a beer garden kickoff party; main stage acts will perform the final three days.

More reserved seats have been added this year, meaning general-admission spectators will be pushed further back from the main stage. In an effort to make the schedule more family-friendly, the daily headliners' appearances have been moved up to 9 p.m.

Nearly 20 acts will perform on the main stage. Here are five not to miss:

ALAN JACKSON

This Georgia good ol' boy with long blond hair emerged as one of country music's top performers in the early 1990s and has charted an astounding 25 No. 1 singles, including three off his 2008 album "Good Time." Crowd favorites: "Gone Country," "Chattahoochee," "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (recorded with Jimmy Buffett) and the Sept. 11 anthem "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)."

TIM MCGRAW

The son of major-league pitcher Tug McGraw and husband of country chanteuse Faith Hill, this Louisiana native has had 11 albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The heartthrob also has acted in several films, including 2007's "The Kingdom" filmed in the Valley. Crowd favorites: "Indian Outlaw," "Don't Take the Girl," "I Like It, I Love It" and "Live Like You Were Dying" (an ode to his late father).

HAL KETCHUM

After scoring a number of hits - including "Hearts Are Gonna Roll" and "Someplace Far Away (Careful What You're Dreaming)" - on his first three albums in the early '90s, this former Greenwich, N.Y., rhythm-and-blues drummer was partially paralyzed by acute transverse myelitis in 1998 and then diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After relearning how to walk and play guitar, he's performing again.

RODNEY ATKINS

As an orphaned infant, this Tennessee native was adopted but returned - twice - because he was so sickly. He struggled in the music industry for nearly a decade before hitting it big with his 2006 album "If You're Going Through Hell." The title track was named country's top song of 2006 by Billboard magazine, and its follow-up, "Watching You," was named top song of 2007.

ZAC BROWN BAND

This Georgia band's namesake frontman first recorded his song "Chicken Fried" in 2003, and it also was recorded by The Lost Trailers in 2006. But it wasn't until Brown re-recorded his celebration of a rural lifestyle last year for the band's major-label debut that it zoomed to No. 1 on the charts, knocking Taylor Swift's monster hit "Love Story" from the top perch in December.

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