Interstate Fair welcomes bands

MINERAL WELLS – A variety of young and up-and-coming country acts will be featured during this year’s West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition from July 16-20.

Thousands of people visit the fairgrounds on Butcher Bend Road near Mineral Wells for five days of entertainment, activities, concessions, track events and other programs.

This year’s entertainment will begin at 8:30 p.m. July 16 with The Henningsens on the fair stage.

The family trio has released its hit debut single, “American Beautiful.” The group features father Brian on bass, guitar and vocals, eldest son Aaron on guitar and vocals and daughter Clara on lead vocals and guitar.

Before performing on their own, the trio wrote two songs for The Band Perry, which scored big with “You Lie,” written by Aaron, Clara and Brian, and the two-week No. 1 smash, “All Your Life,” penned by Brian and Clara.

On their self-titled debut EP, all four songs were written by The Henningsens. This year, they have spent time on tour with Brad Paisley.

Missouri native and rising country star Chris Janson will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. July 17.

Performing since age 11, Janson arrived in Nashville at age 18 and pleaded with the doorman at the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for the chance to sing one song with the house band. Not long after he’d finished “Folsom Prison Blues,” the bar’s owners offered him a job, playing four shows a day.

Since that time, he has appeared in the Neil Young concert film “Heart of Gold,” been offered record, publishing, booking and management deal, toured Europe with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr., has shared the stage with Emmylou Harris, Trace Adkins and Lonestar and has written with Rodney Crowell and Duff McKagan, among others.

Local country singer Taylor Sams will give two shows on July 18, at 7 and 9 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Sams has competed and won on the local level in the Texaco Country Showdown and has performed at area fairs and festivals over the past few years.

Thomas Rhett will be the headliner at 8:30 p.m. July 19 on the stage, with West Virginia band Bowyer Drive opening at 7 p.m.

Natives of north-central West Virginia, the five-member Bower Drive performs modern country rock with a bluesy kick. Its members include siblings Ali Bowyer and Drew Bowyer, along with bandmates Eric Mealey, Jay Cathell and Cody Berkenstock.

They have released two albums, “Life is a Song” and “Get Me There,” which features 14 original tracks that fuse sprinklings of southern and classic rock

Rhett is a singer-songwriter and the son of 1990s country star Rhett Akins. He has already released a hit single, “Something To Do With My Hands.” His other singles include “Whatcha Got In That Cup,” “All-American Middle Class White Boy” and “Front Porch Junkie.”

The final night of the fair will feature Greg Bates on stage at 8:30 p.m. July 20. His opening act will be Point Pleasant native and “American Idol” contest Chase Liken at 7 p.m.

A Nasvhille native, Bates attended Belmont University where he further developed his songwriting and performing skills. Soon after graduation, he began “living the dream” after signing a co-publishing/artist development deal with Effusion Entertainment and Super 98 Music the publishing arm of the Big Machine Label Group.

Greg recently recorded his debut project, a hook-filled album that is a tight and often twangy collection of songs, all written or co-written by Bates. The project includes the recent Top 5 hit, “Did It for the Girl” and his second single, “Fill in the Blank,” which hit country radio in February and was the No. 1 most added song during its release week. The up-tempo, flirty song was also recently featured on the ABC television series, “Nashville.”

Bates has shared the stage with Darius Rucker, Willie Nelson, Alabama, and most recently Alan Jackson. He is currently headlining shows across the country.