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Your Town Tour rocks Dickinson with new age country music

The Your Town Tour, consisting of 10 nights on the road with over 350 stops, made a stop in Dickinson Monday with national recording artists Copper Chief and Julia Cole. Here’s the inside scoop of the new sounds of country music.

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Mike Valliere of Copper Chief screams a raspy tone on stage during a concert at Fluffy Fields Vineyard and Winery Monday evening. From Texas, Copper Chief made an appearance on the Your Town Tour with Julia Cole and local singer/musician Beni Paulson, and all will be performing at ND Country Fest 2021 this summer. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Neon purple lights ignited a backdrop on stage as the crowd listened to the angelic, yet rhythmic voice of Julia Cole and her songs of heartbreak, women empowerment and sass. As Cole finished up her set, four men wearing Davy Crocket-inspired hats soon made their way to the stage. The four men known as Copper Chief, launched into a fusion of bluesy, outlaw country to a rowdier audience.

As a “grassroots promotion” to ND Country Fest 2021, the Your Town Tour featuring Cole and Copper Chief proved to be a hit with the Dickinson community Monday evening at Fluffy Fields Vineyard and Winery. The 3rd Annual Your Town Tour began kicking off the country music scene Feb. 26 in Minot with 10 nights on the road, traveling over 2,500 miles across North Dakota.

The full live show on Monday featured local artist Beni Paulson of Richardton, who performed with his father, Dennis, a variety of cowboy and western-motivated original songs.

Bob Bliss, who’s one of the managers for ND Country Fest, said that the Your Town Tour is a way to introduce new upcoming artists to communities and businesses while also allowing them to connect with existing fans and create new fans.

“There is something really neat to be able to say, ‘I saw them when they were just starting,’” Bliss said. “... In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great artists that were like this when they were just starting (such as) Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Eric Church. We have a history of finding them when they’re just starting and bring them on up. It’s exciting to follow them and it’s exciting, in all honesty, to be a part of history.”

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RISING TO STARDUM: JULIA COLE

Growing up in the suburbs of Houston, Cole noted her musical influences to Texas country as well as the downtown scene of hip-hop and R&B. Cole didn’t follow in other artists’ journeys toward the spotlight, it was more coincidental. As an athlete in high school, Cole sang the National Anthem to her volleyball and basketball games and began singing the anthem for stadium venues when word got out of her talent. Cole moved to Nashville right out of high school, furthering her passion for the arts in the country music capital.

“Side Piece,” a tune Cole wrote, has been blowing up on TikTok where thousands of female fans are creating lip sync videos to her song. As Cole strummed her guitar on stage, the lyrics conveyed an up-beat sassy message of how to handle being cheated on.

At each venue Cole has played at during the Your Town Tour, she said she enjoys meeting the people after the show and looks forward to returning to North Dakota in July.

“It makes it all worth it. The 10 days that I spend in North Dakota, where I’m not with my family and the people who support me… I know it’s really making a difference. Because people are building communities around supporting each other and music is building communities for people to support each other. It’s really cool,” Cole added.

COPPER CHIEF IN FULL FLESH

Bearing a little more rough-edge look than Cole, Copper Chief captivated the crowd at Fluffy Fields with their grit and authentic outlaw country sound. Based out of Austin/New Braunfels, Texas, Copper Chief sang a variety of songs from original rocky, bluesy songs to covers ranging from Waylon Jennings to a very funky, yet twisted version of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.”

“It’s a different thing down there. You got a lot of stuff coming at you. We’re very proud of our local scene, it’s like this red dirt. It’s not quite what you’re going to think of as country, internationally. But you get that, you get of course Bob Wills — that dancehall country,” drummer John Jammall II said. “But then, we, being good Texas boys, we’ve listened to all of that but we also had a little rock side in us.”

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Jammall described Copper Chief’s sound as a merging force of organic, raw “honest country” and very story based. Though it’s categorized in that “red dirt scene,” the band is its own unique blend of genres.

“People don’t understand that what we are is actually is a high-energy, intense live show. What I hope people get from coming to see us is realizing that that’s our bread and butter. We’re not what they’re trying to piece us into; they kind of get that full feeling,” Jammall said.

Copper Chief has been playing together for six years — two of which, the band has been internationally touring. But with the coronavirus pandemic, live shows were immediately halted.

“I had a career… It would have been a lifelong dream for me to go on the road and play music for a living. Everybody’s got one thing they’re really good at; this was the thing that I truly was really good at and I thought, ‘Man, if I could get paid to do that it would be just the culmination of a life’s enjoyment, but also work.’ And that happened. (In) 2019, we got to go and then about a year later, it was COVID-19. So yeah, I quit my job,” Jammall said, adding, “So in more ways than one, it’s been nice to get back out and really put some justification behind this thing.”

For vocalist/guitar player Mike Valliere, getting back on stage with his Copper Chief band mates with the Your Town Tour is an honor.

“I am ecstatic right now,” Mike Valliere said, blushing with laughter. “This is what I’m made to do and it’s hard when that gets taken away from you.”

ND COUNTRY FEST 2021

Bliss ran WE Fest for a number of years in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and the concert series is like one of the “granddaddies of country music festivals.” Though some people may have not heard of these artists spotlighted with the Your Town Tour, Bliss noted that one day people will.

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“One of the things that has always been important to me and is important to our team is discovering new talent. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with major artists today back when they were just starting, and seeing them come up. This particular tour, we have two rising stars with us… (which are) Copper Chief, out of Texas, and Julia Cole, out of Nashville. And these two bands/artists are exceptional and people would be very impressed and excited to see them,” Bliss said.

ND Country Fest is one of the nation’s fastest growing country music and camping festival and will take place in July in New Salem. With the coronavirus pandemic putting a cap on live concerts, this is an opportunity to enjoy live music and be a part of something unique, Bliss added.

With a growing social media following, Your Town Tour also allows the opportunity for audience members to meet with the artists and interact with them, Bliss noted.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Your Town Tour at Fluffy Fields, visit NDCF 2021 “Your Town Tour” Gets Fluffy Facebook page. To order tickets for ND Country Fest 2021, visit ndcountryfest.com

Related Topics: EVENTSDICKINSON
Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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