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Dave Roepke, Published August 02 2007

Star chart

Two dozen WE Fests have preceded this year’s, stretching back to 1983.

So if you’re going to the 25th version, which kicks off at 2:45 p.m. today, you likely know what to expect at Soo Pass Ranch, the sprawling concert bowl and campgrounds near Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Festival organizers certainly aren’t going to tinker much with an event that consistently draws nearly 50,000 fans a day. Tradition reigns even in campgrounds, where regulars annually snag the same spots.

But the lineup of Nashville notables changes every year, and this year’s is a mix of first-timers and longtime favorites.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of what to expect from the headliners.

Tonight

- Carrie Underwood

Set time: 8:30 p.m.

Sounds like: Underwood’s pop chops showed when she blew away the competition in the fourth season of “American Idol” in 2005. She compares with fellow belter Martina McBride, whom Underwood professed was her idol when she was on “Idol.”

Listen for: There’s no way she could skip the breakout from her first album, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” She’s got a new album out in October, so keep your ears peeled for the already-out single “So Small.”

- Alan Jackson

Set time: 10:45 p.m.

Sounds like: A throwback whose approach to repacking honky-tonk is as sober, consistent and as hook-strewn as any songwriter in country. He has a modest, aw-shucks sensibility when performing.

Listen for: Jackson’s got a lot of hits under that hat, so don’t expect too much from last year’s collection of love songs. Also, he’s just released a two-song CD as a companion with his wife’s new book, so he’ll probably roll out the ballad that shares the book’s name, “It’s All About Him.”

Friday

- Sheryl Crow

Set time: 8:15 p.m.

Sounds like: Crow has specialized, so far, in sunny but literate songwriting that depending on the venture can veer toward roots or rock. She has said her next album will be a Nashville one.

Listen for: Expect “A Change Will Do You Good” to lead off and the breezy trio of “All I Wanna Do,” “Soak up the Sun” and “Every Day is a Winding Road” to finish off her set, with crossover hit “Picture” landing somewhere in between.

- Keith Urban:

Set time: 10:45 p.m.

Sounds like: This Aussie is blessed with more than the title of Mr. Nicole Kidman. He’s also got a killer soul-flecked purr and is a fabulous guitarist, especially when he’s wailing past country’s traditional borders.

Listen for: He’s still on tour in support of November release “Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing” and will likely mine that material heavily. It’ll be his showy guitar solos that will impress, though.

Saturday

- Trace Adkins

Set time: 8:15 p.m.

Sounds like: Like the man he’s warming the stage for, Adkins is a former football player and oil rigger. He channels every bit of that masculinity into his catalog, a mix of cheeky up-tempo stomps and teddy-bear ballads.

Listen for: He’s been opening with “Songs About Me” from the 2005 album of the same name, and look for what he’s been calling his theme song, “Rough & Ready.” Recent hits “Ladies Love Country Boys” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” will probably be finishing moves.

- Toby Keith

Set time: 10:45 p.m.

Sounds like: Nashville’s reigning king of brash was just another hat act until his 9/11 revenge smash “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American).” His baritone and spot-on sense for the bad-ass has kept him in the country elite.

Listen for: He’s got a new album out and is in the last slot of the festival, which means expect plenty from June release “Big Dog Daddy” and an equal dose of his many party tunes. “Angry American” is a likely set-closer.

If you go

- What: WE Fest

- When: Today through Saturday

- Where: Soo Pass Ranch, four miles south of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

- Tickets: Three-day general admission tickets are $150; three-day camping passes are $60.

- Info: Call (800) 493-3378.

- Online: www.wefest.com

- Traffic info: No matter what direction you’re coming from, plan for extra time to get

to WE Fest. Though crews will be vacating the construction zones as much as possible for the three-day festival, road work being done on Highway 10 between Fargo and Detroit Lakes, on Interstate 94 and on the east side of Detroit Lakes will ensure slow traffic.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535