Isle of Wight County Fair entertainment on the Duke Chevrolet GMC Stage

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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Duke Chevrolet GMC Stage schedule:

Friday, Sept. 15

Opening, 7 p.m.: Spencer Hatcher

Headliner, 9 p.m.: Brandon Lay

Saturday, Sept. 16

5 p.m.: Everafter

Opening, 7 p.m.: Runnin’ Shine

Headliner, 9 p.m.: Dillon Carmichael

Dillon Carmichael is Saturday night headliner

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “country music’s most convincing young star since Stapleton,” Dillon Carmichael isn’t just an artist; he’s a force of nature.

Born and raised in Burgin, Kentucky, the 6-foot-4 troubadour first rose to fame in 2018 on the strength of his critically acclaimed Riser House debut, the Dave Cobb-produced “Hell On An Angel,” which prompted NPR to praise his “deep holler” and the New York Times to declare that his voice moves “with the heft and certainty of a tractor trailer.”

Dates with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Trace Adkins to Dwight Yoakam and Justin Moore followed, as did festival appearances from Faster Horses to Tortuga and Artist To Watch nods from the likes of Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pandora and more.

Carmichael followed it up in 2021 with “Son Of A,” another neo-traditional gem that’s racked up more than 50 million streams across platforms (Carmichael’s catalog boasts more than 160 million streams collectively) and yielded similarly glowing reviews for its feel-good mix of wry humor and raw heart. The album’s title track debuted as the No. 1 most added single at country radio and continues to climb the charts.

Carmichael remained busy as ever on the road in 2022, headlining his “Son Of A” Tour and opening for the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Cody Johnson, Brothers Osborne and more. In addition to working on material for his next major release, Carmichael is playing the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and Country Cocktails Presents Luke Combs Bootleggers Tailgate Party on select dates of Luke Combs’ 2023 tour.

Brandon Lay is Friday night’s headliner

Sometimes all it takes to move forward is remembering where you’ve been. And for Nashville artist Brandon Lay, that’s where his next step lies.

Back with a new batch of vintage-inspired country rock, the hard-to-tame son of a Tennessee preacher has reembraced the organic edge of his own sound – a potent style he knows by heart.

Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Lay’s early life was a perfect illustration for his gutsy musical identity, raised right in the geographical middle of Memphis rock and Nashville country. Coming out of college, he combined that influence with a reputation for captivating crowds and guitar-slinging charisma, signing a major-label recording deal in 2017. But after a handful of early singles took him elsewhere, Lay’s primed for an all-natural change.

“Every artist is different, but I’ll put it this way. I grew up playing all the honky tonks and biker bars, but that aggressive kind of sound didn’t match what was on the radio,” he explains, considering his new path. “That was a bridge that I felt like this project had to make. … We wanted to match the live show with what people were hearing.”

The shift arrives just in time for this gifted singer-songwriter – and in a way, it all feels meant to be.

Wearing his soul on his sleeve, Lay’s disconnect between the studio and stage brought him dangerously close to disillusion. But with the forced recalibration of a global pandemic, and the move to a 50-acre spread on the outskirts of Nashville with his wife and two children, he pulled himself back from the brink. And with tracks like “Broke,” he’s trusting his instincts once again.

Co-written with Country Music Hall of Famer Dean Dillon (“The Chair,” “Oceanfront Property”), “Broke” welds Lay’s gravel-road vocal to a smooth-driving power ballad, comparing a relationship on the rocks to broken-down car – and imagining Lay as the mechanic who can fix it.

With a wide open country-rock sound and all the passion he was missing, it’s an anthem custom built to take another shot at forever. And with it, Lay turns the ignition on a new chapter.

“It’s the one song we cut where I almost feel like I’m singing a classic George Strait song,” he says. “Comfortable is a great way to describe it. It will point my fans in the direction this whole project is going. … It’s got that throwback feel and it’s harmony friendly, and I think it’s got the elements that are gonna let people know what’s on the way.”