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This article was published 21/10/2016 (1828 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Festival season for 2016 has only just wrapped up, but organizers at Dauphin's Countryfest aren't letting the grass grow under their feet.
At a news conference Friday, the annual country festival announced superstars Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Johnny Reid will headline the 2017 lineup, which runs June 29 to July 2.
Urban is a Countryfest alum, having performed at the festival twice before — in 2004 and 2010. The 48-year-old Australian signer, songwriter, guitarist and producer has logged more than 25 years on the country music scene and in that time has released 10 studio albums, had 20 No. 1 hits and has collected dozens of awards ranging from Grammys to Academy of Country Music Awards to American Music Awards and more. He became more widely known outside of country music circles after his marriage to actress Nicole Kidman and during his stint as a judge on the singing-based reality TV show American Idol.
Urban will headline the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Mainstage Friday night alongside Countryfest first-timer and "one to watch," Meghan Patrick, and Canadian Country Music Award winner Tim Hicks.
Despite Urban's clout, it was Bryan who stirred the largest reaction from those in attendance at Friday's news conference at Winnipeg's Club Regent casino. Bryan, too, has played Countryfest before (in 2013) and is one of the most decorated musicians in country music today, adding 15 trophies to his collection in 2016 alone. The 40-year-old has released five albums in his 10-year career, and has quickly become a much sought-after performer on the circuit. He will headline Saturday's Canada Day lineup.
Reid is a Countryfest favourite. He made his debut at the festival in 2006, and 2017 will mark his fourth time returning. Reid, 42, a Scotsman who has found great success in Canada, having just completed a hugely successful cross-country tour which included three nights at the Club Regent Event Centre in Winnipeg in February. This year, Reid was also a recipient of the 2016 SOCAN National Achievement Award, which is given to "a SOCAN songwriter, lyricist or composer for outstanding success, predominantly in the Canadian music industry, over the span of their career," according to the SOCAN website.
"I couldn’t be more thrilled about what we have to announce for today. I’m so pumped up about it. We haven’t had acts like this all together on the stage in a lot of years, and this is the year that’s really going to blow everybody away. In fact, I’m so pumped and nervous about it, I can’t even talk about it," said Countryfest promoter Rob Woloschuk.
Kicking things off on Thursday night, Portage la Prairie duo Doc Walker will take the stage for their 11th Countryfest appearance, with Woloschuk saying they are one of the festival's most requested return performers. Doc Walker are celebrating 20 years together as a band with the release of their greatest hits album, Echo Road, and accompanying tour. They are also in town this weekend to perform the national anthem at the NHL Heritage Classic hockey game Sunday with Brett Kissel.
"We couldn’t be happier with the lineup that is shaping up for 2017," says Eric Irwin, president of Dauphin’s Countryfest. "Our producer, Rob Woloschuk, has done a tremendous job securing some of the biggest acts in country music today, and if you want to see them all in one place, then Dauphin, Manitoba is the place to be next summer."
Tickets for Countryfest go on sale Nov.14 at 9 a.m. and can be purchased through the festival's website, countryfest.ca, or by calling their office at 1-800-361-7300.
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Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.