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Fair to feature Christian, country, legacy rock music

The sound of music at this year’s Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock will feature Christian music stars, a pair of legacy rock music bands and a return visit by Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels.

While Christian and country music have been a mainstay of the fair in recent years, the rock bands –  both popular in the 1980s – are “a different type of music genre for a county fair,” said Tom Eschelman, fair general manager. “We hope the diversity will attract folks to the fair who might not otherwise come. It’s a bit risky.”

The two rock bands, Great White and KIX, where formed in 1977; KIX in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Great White in Los Angeles. They will be the fair’s last music concert.

Both bands drifted apart over the years but eventually reformed with most of their original members. Today, the bands tour various venues, including occasional performances in England.

Great White has sold more than 10 million records worldwide and Mark Kendall, lead guitarist and founding member, said when they play at the Shenandoah County Fair, the audience will see a band “That puts everything we have into a live show.”

Great White will “play songs that everybody wants to hear and then a couple of new ones from our latest record,” said Kendall, 61, who started his first band as a teenager.

“What keeps me going is being creative,” he said. “I am always looking for the best song that I have ever done; it keeps me going.”

The new songs from experienced performers keep the band fresh, like an artist.

“An artist doesn’t want to go out and sell the same painting year after year, he wants to keep painting new stuff, and that’s what keeps me going,” Kendall said.

And he likes playing before live audiences, not like in the past when a band would have to wait for a record to be played by disc jockeys to see if it would be liked.

“When we play live, people let us know right away if it’s good,” he added.

Kendall likes to hang around after the show. “I never leave until all the pictures are taken, and things are signed,” he said.

He enjoys hearing older couples tell him stories when they were together and heard a popular Great White song for the first time.

“I want to thank our fans over the years that have grown up supporting us,” he said. “Without them we couldn’t do what we do, me making a living doing what I love.”

KIX became popular in the early 1980s, winning over fans with their “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” concert song that prompted ad-libs from lead vocalist Steve Whiteman creating tongue-in-cheek rock and roll.

KIX has been described as “Baltimore’s Favorite Rock Band” where they have played 40 times, and including all their shows, they have traveled more than 180,00 miles including shows performed in England. The have produced seven studio albums and one live album. In 2014 they were No. 1 in two categories on a rock music website for their “Rock Your Face Off” album.

Whiteman grew up in Piedmont, West Virginia, where at a young age he would run home after church and play by ear the hymnals he heard.

Fairgoers may not hear hymnals when Tenth Street North band performs the night before but Jeff Owen, who grew up in Indiana and is their lead guitarist, says their music will “be a bit of a journey.”

He was working at Starbucks and volunteering in a church in Florida where Tenth Avenue North was playing, and he was asked to join them in 2004.

“We’re a Christian band, and we want people walking away understanding God a little more than when they came,'” he said in an interview.

The band performs over 90 shows a year and their favorite song is “Cathedrals,” the name of their album released in 2014 and one of the songs.

Owen said when the band performs the song, “It seems like it soaks in throughout the song and at the end, people connect with it.”

“We want people to be entertained and walk away understanding the experience,” he said.

The band sponsors children through Compassion International and has received several nominations, winning three times awards from GMA Dove, which honors outstanding achievements and excellence in Christian music.

Also performing as a lead-in to Tenth Avenue North will be Zach Williams, a Grammy award-winning Christian rock artist who was nominated in five categories in 2017 by GMA Dove, winning twice as new artist of the year and for the pop/contemporary recorded song of the year (Chain Breaker”).

Also on the fair’s concert schedule is the Charlie Daniel’s band.

Daniels, 82, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Famer and member of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. His music encompasses bluegrass, country, rock, outlaw country, country rock, blues rock, rock and roll, blues and gospel.  This is his second appearance at the Shenandoah County Fair.