By Kellie B. Gormly, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Y108 Freedom Fest
When: Concert gates open at noon, Saturday
Main stage: Colt Ford plays at 7 p.m.; Jamey Johnson plays at 9 p.m.
Second stage: Stoney River Boys, noon; Chris Woodward, 1 p.m.; Sydney Hutchko, 2 p.m.; Michael Christopher, 3 p.m.; Terry Lee Spencer, 4 p.m.; Jamie Bruno, 5 p.m.; Joe Zelek, 6 p.m.; Todd Jones, 8 p.m.
Admission: Free with general fair gate admission of $5 before 4 p.m., and $7 after 4 p.m., for anyone age 2 and older
Where: Big Butler Fair, 1127 New Castle Road, Butler
Kellie B. Gormly is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-320-7824 or via e-mail.
Colt Ford may be known for his unusual mixture of country and hip-hop elements in his music, but don’t stick a label on him, the Georgia native says.
Ford, one of the performers at the Y108 Freedom Fest on Saturday at the Big Butler Fair, says that his style may be unique, but it’s country, nonetheless; even though many country stations won’t play his music. And mixing rap with country isn’t as revolutionary as it seems, Ford says. Old-time country legend Charlie Daniels, one of Ford’s heroes, did the same thing with songs like “Uneasy Rider” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Ford is working with Daniels on some new material.
“I consider myself just a country artist,” Ford says. He is a close friend of Jamey Johnson, who is the headliner of the daylong concert with many performers. “Today, everybody has to put a label on stuff. To be honest, what I’m doing has been done before. … But I’m certainly different. There are not too many 300-pound cowboys with hats.
“My favorite thing about music is that there are no rules; you can do whatever you want,” Ford says. “Put together creative people and see what you come up with.”
Ford — a former professional golfer — has seen notable grassroots success despite being outside of the country music mainstream. His 2008 album, “Ride Through the Country,” sold about 250,000 copies and 500,000 downloads. Ford’s current album — “Chicken and Biscuits,” released in April — has elicited good feedback, he says. The current album features collaborations with James Otto, Josh Gracin, Randy Houser, Darryl Worley, DMC of Run-DMC, and more.
Ford says that singing is his calling.
“I never got into music; music got into me,” he says. You can’t just cut that off, you know.”
No matter what age you are, Ford encourages country fans to come out to the Freedom Fest.
“My age demographic is really all over the board,” he says. “I see 80-year-olds singing everywhere, and I see 8-year-olds singing everywhere.
“If you want to figure out what Colt Ford is, come to the show and figure it out,” Ford says. “I promise you’ll have a good time.”