It’s high time the county fair became hip again. As society changes, the annual celebration of all things rural faces well-documented challenges. But in the age of Etsy and Pinterest, when cross-stitch, pickling and DIY chicken coops are all the rage, the county fair seems to have its finger on the zeitgeist. I mean, where else can you find a table-setting competition?
And on top of it all, the county fair is a great place for touring national acts. Sure, a lot of it is Nashville music from trumped-up Country Music Television favorites like Billy Currington or Montgomery Gentry — two of the acts appearing at this year’s Lane County Fair. But the entertainment docket is also a truckload of classic guilty pleasure bands: 38 Special, Spin Doctors and Cheap Trick. You can stop playing your dad’s tattered vinyl copy of Cheap Trick’s Dream Police for the umpteenth time; they’re playing right here in town — and you can eat a sno-cone while you watch them.
Currington is touring in support of his latest release: Enjoy Yourself. The country singer, who made his name with hits like “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer,” is keen on takin’ it easy, so if good ol’ boy pop-country is your bag, that’s just what you’ll get with Currington.
Country music mega-stars Montgomery Gentry made their name with the 1999 country-rock hit “Hillbilly Shoes” — bringing a hard driving, Southern-rock edge to the Nashville formula. Their latest release is appropriately titled Rebels On The Run. 38 Special have been at it since the ’70s and, like Montgomery Gentry, put their own twist on southern rock.
The Spin Doctors struck gold with their 1991 album, Pocketful of Kryptonite — one of the best-selling records of the decade, filled with gems like “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” Defying critics who called them one-hit-wonders, the Spin Doctors have gone on to have a successful touring career, recently riding the wave of their 2013 album If the River Was Whiskey. Godfathers of ’70s power-pop, Cheap Trick blends pop, hard rock and punk in a way that’s instantly recognizable and unbelievably influential. Their hits include “I Want You To Want Me,” “Surrender” and “The Flame.”
Spin Doctors play 8 pm Wednesday, July 24; Cheap Trick plays 8 pm Thursday, July 25; Billy Currington performs 8 pm Friday, July 26; 38 Special plays 8 pm Saturday, July 27; and Montgomery Gentry close the Fair at 5 pm Sunday, July 27. General admission concert tickets are free with Fair entrance; $20-$35 for reserved seating. See atthefair.com for details.