by Jim Boyle
The second annual Otsego JamFest will kick off a day earlier than last year and in grand fashion with a Travis Tritt concert.
Organizers of the event are working to bring other national recording artists, too, on Friday, Aug. 5 for a show in the parking lot between Rockwoods and the Otsego Denny’s — two of the three main event sponsors. The other is Holiday Inn.
Tickets will be sold for the Friday night affair, which will lead into a free daylong event on Saturday, featuring more music, inflatables for kids and families, a canoe race, a petting zoo, car show, arts and crafts booths and plenty of food.
“We plan to have everything we had last year but bigger and better,” said Todd Rick, the owner of Denny’s and one of the event organizers.
There will be a few new twists, too, starting with Tritt’s soulful lyrics and powerful licks on his acoustic slide guitar.
Others include hot air balloon rides, a 5k walk inspired by Ava Hugguns of Otsego and a motorcycle charity drive.
“We’re pretty excited about bringing a national act into Otsego, Minnesota,” Rick said. “If this doesn’t put us on the map, I don’t know what will.”
The stage required for Tritt’s show is spelled out in a contract that was just finalized.
“It’s 10 times bigger than last year’s stage, which was pretty big in and of itself,” Rick said. “And we’ll have it for both Friday night and Saturday night.”
High and Mighty, last year’s headliner, and Seven of Each will be back, and Transit Authority, a Chicago tribute band, will be part of Saturday’s lineup.
Tritt is sure to generate the most excitement, though. Seven of his 10 albums (counting the Greatest Hits albums) are certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America.
“It’s All About to Change,” which came out in 1991, went triple-platinum.
Tritt has also charted more than 40 times on the Hot Country Songs charts, including five number ones — “Help Me Hold On,” “Anymore,” “Can I Trust You with My Heart,” “Foolish Pride” and “Best of Intentions” — and 15 additional top 10 singles.
Tritt’s musical style is defined by mainstream country and Southern rock influences. His last album, “The Storm,” emphasizes the soul side of Tritt’s singing.
“It’s a card that has always been in Tritt’s stylistic deck, but one that has often been overlooked by listeners unfamiliar with the deep musical links between country and R&B, particularly in the South,” Tritt’s website states.
Tritt teamed up with producer Randy Jackson for the album. This was before Jackson gained acclaim for his role as a judge on “American Idol.” Jackson wanted to work with Tritt after helping produce a duet with Tritt and another artist.
“Growing up just outside Atlanta, to the north of us you’ve got the Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville,” Tritt explains. “A little bit south you’ve got Macon, Georgia – home of the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band and Capricorn Records. And off to west you’ve got Delta blues.
“Sprinkle Southern gospel over the top of that, and you’re talking about where I came from. I loved all of that music.”
The folks who love his music can soak it up on Aug. 5 in Otsego, Minnesota.
Once all the acts have been signed, tickets will go on sale April 1 at www.tempotickets.com and they will be available at Denny’s of Otsego and Rockwoods.