Local band takes big Bayfront stage at fest
Most local girls would freak out about opening for three national recording artists in front of a Fourth Fest crowd. Not Rachel Becker. She said she's used to singing in front of a crowd. The only feeling she has about sharing the stage with the ...
Most local girls would freak out about opening for three national recording artists in front of a Fourth Fest crowd.
Not Rachel Becker. She said she's used to singing in front of a crowd. The only feeling she has about sharing the stage with the big names is excitement, she said.
Becker with her band, Midnight Ride, performs at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 2, at Duluth Country Fest.
Becker, a Duluth native and recent University of Minnesota Duluth graduate, is the group's new female lead vocalist. She started singing with the group in September and has sung in front of crowds with choirs and in music competitions in the past, she said.
"My favorite part is performing," she said, "just getting the crowd going. Getting a good response makes me feel good about what I'm doing."
Midnight Ride is one of seven local acts that will perform onstage at Fourth Fest this year.
Midnight Ride enjoyed being a part of Country Fest last year and is looking forward to performing again this year, said Cory Clay, Midnight Ride bass guitarist.
"It was chilly but it was great," Clay said. "We met some great people. ... (We're) really grateful to be asked back and to play again."
This year, the group will be opening for national artists Julie Roberts, Diamond Rio and Tracy Byrd.
But opening for national acts is nothing new for the band, said drummer Dan Vaught.
Last year at Country Fest, the group opened for Sherri Austin, Gary Allan and Brad Paisley, but the group has also opened for big name artists like Dale Watson, JoDee Messina and Blake Shelton in the past.
"Last year, we had to play and then we were off to the next gig," said Vaught, who is looking forward to sticking around to hang out with family and friends at this year's fest.
Becker, along with the rest of the band, is looking forward to performing on the large Bayfront Festival Park stage.
"Some of the stages we sing almost shoulder to shoulder," she said. "It always makes it more fun when you're performing in front of a large group of people."
Midnight Ride, which was formed in 1998 by a vocal trio looking to put together a band for a national competition, performs between 40 and 50 shows a year, most of them at festivals, city celebrations and music concert series, Vaught said.
The band was originally seven members, and of those only two, Vaught and Chip Beal, the lead male vocalist, remain in the band, Vaught said.
The current six members of Midnight Ride are not all originally from Duluth, but they are all living and working in the area now, he said.
The band is made up of Vaught, Clay, Becker, Beal, keyboardist Mark Wiita and fiddler Dave Risdon.
With balancing once a month performances (additional ones in summer) and work, family and friends, scheduling performances and rehearsals can sometimes become a hassle for the six person team, Becker said.
"It's definitely a challenge trying to come up with times to rehearse and coming up with weekends we can perform on," she said.
But performing and working with the band is worth it, she said.
"I think that we're a fun loving great band," Becker said. "We all have a good connection with one another ... and that makes performing so much fun."
Clay, who has been with the band five years agrees with Becker.
"I'm real proud to be part of a group of people that I think has its priorities straight," she said. "We realize our gifts come from our God. ... We're like a little family. Because of that we'll probably be together for a long time."
Midnight Ride's return to the Country Fest stage will also be the release date for the group's newest album "Blues for the Country," which will sell for $10 at the performance, Vaught said.
This album is still country but has a bit of an eclectic blues influence that comes from Becker, who has more of a blues/rock background. That's something new the album has to offer, he said.
The group will perform all seven songs from the new album as well as some of its old favorites, "Ridding Through the Night" and "That Dance," he said.
The artists of Midnight Ride write many of their own songs, but the group also plays a number of cover and tribute songs, Vaught said.
Clay, who writes some of the band's music enjoys the chance to write country music, which she hadn't had any experience with before joining the band, she said.
"It's really fun to have the band play your original music," she said. "It really is fun."