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John Lamb, Published August 07 2011

Lambert plays part of headliner on final day of WE Fest; Rucker shows his country roots

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – While the threat of stormy weather hung over the final day of WE Fest, no one was going to rain on Miranda Lambert’s day.

The singer/guitarist showed why her stage show has earned descriptions like “fiery” and “explosive” as she stomped and strutted around the stage.

Though her stature is small, her personality was large on the stage as she burned through “Kerosene.” While one of the younger country stars, she is strongly grounded in the genre and her songs have as much twang and spit as any out there.

Possessed with a voice that can go from a coo to a growl in nothing flat, the personality of her songs can change on a dime. A young woman next to me was crying while singing along with “The House That Built Me” to fist pumps on “White Liar.” When she tackled Rod Stewart’s “Stay with Me,” she sounded more like Dolly Parton.

Lambert had enough energy to headline the show, and it’s too bad she didn’t.

Rascal Flatts started their set with a lighted drum-in that seemed inspired by Blue Man Group, only on a white stage. They followed that with “Why Wait.”

Fans may have wondered that as each member took center stage to perform covers only a few songs in.

Their set was still going when this story was written.

The crowd favorite from the first half of the day was Darius Rucker. Still best known as the front man of 1990s pop rock group Hootie & the Blowfish, the singer is touring behind his second country album, “Charleston, SC1966.”

Wearing a Nike baseball cap and a Beatles T-shirt, he didn’t necessarily look the part of a country singer. That didn’t bother the crowd, which flooded into the concert bowl from the campsites when Rucker started with “Love will do that.” Fans sang along in mass with his second number, “Alright.”

Still, the biggest and loudest reactions were when he sang Hootie hits, like “Only Wanna Be With You” and “Let Her Cry.”

Rucker showed his country roots performing the classic “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.”

“Never thought I’d see the day when a black man would sing a David Alan Coe song,” said concert emcee Tom Katt, backstage, walking the show. Coe has been accused of racist lyrics in the past.

Ruker carried on the party vibe with a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.”

Rising star Easton Corbin played the second spot, winning over the crowd with his hits, “A Little More Country than That” and Roll With it.”

Read more about all the acts on the WE Fest blog on AreaVoices.

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Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533