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J. Shane Mercer, Published August 08 2009

Review: Swift kicks it up at WE Fest

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – It can be tempting to be a little stingy with the credibility when it comes to artists who are disgustingly beautiful, enviably slender and unfairly young.

But Taylor Swift ran the stage like a pro Friday night at WE Fest, doing “White Horse” with only her acoustic guitar and some sparse harmony. The 19-year-old took to the piano for a number or two. And, as for breadth, her set ran from singer-songwriter to rock numbers.

It is true that some of her on-stage dialogue may still come across as in need of a little seasoning and maturing. But she delivered in concert what she sells on the radio. Her live vocals compare well to her studio voice.

Swift was only one of several performers to take the stage Friday. Craig Morgan brought his down-home ballads and hick-rockin’ jams to the audience in the afternoon. Along with his own hits like “Almost Home” and “International Harvester,” he even threw in a little of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” and the smooth “Easy Like Sunday Morning.”

Earlier yet, Jetty Road took the stage. It was a little strange to hear them roll out their Southern-influenced country music and then turn around and greet the audience with a stereotypically Australian “G’day” at WE Fest on Friday afternoon.

The country act, whose single “Million Miles” tops the Australian country charts, put a blend of pop and country on the stage and put a solid twin female vocal foundation under it. And “twin” isn’t just a figure of speech, the group rides on the confident lead vocals of twin sisters Lee and Paula Bowman.

As if to emphasize that their sound has a foot in the worlds of both twang and popular stylings, they covered crossover diva Shania Twain’s “If You’re Not in it for Love.”

The fact that Jetty Road blends influences a bit makes it something of a symbol for WE Fest, which surely rivals any other event for hosting the highest number of people wearing a cowboy hat only once a year. Like contemporary country music itself, WE Fest is a mix of cowboy and suburbia.

Today at WE Fest

Music lineup:


Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734