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John Lamb, Published August 03 2012

Wind, rain and country

Detroit Lakes, Minn. - The “wild and crazy guy” had a pretty wild and crazy Friday night at WE Fest.

A massive storm roared through here before Steve Martin could play his scheduled 8:30 set. When the funnyman finally took the stage 90 minutes later, his banjo-driven set was as electrifying as the lightning that halted the show.

Best known as a comic actor, Martin raised eyebrows when he started releasing bluegrass albums a few years ago. But it was jaws that were dropping in laughter and in awe of his accomplished, plucky playing.

“I am Steve Martin and I’m the one in white pants. And I’ll be wearing white pants the whole show, unless something goes horribly wrong,” Martin said by way of introduction before the first song.

After that he and the Steep Canyon Rangers launched into a shortened set of hearty Americana, mostly instrumentals.

“This next song is a sing-along, but it has no lyrics. So good luck with that,” Martin joked dryly.

His quips were almost as rapid-fire as the music’s tempo.

“Great, now we have 35 songs to play and we’ll be half-way through,” Martin quipped.

The fans who came back after the storm chased them away would have been happy with such a long set that was much quieter than Brantley Gilbert’s set, or the thunder in between.

Strong winds, rain and lightning forced an extended delay. The stoppage came at the end of Gilbert’s country-rock set, around 7:40 p.m.

A message warning fans to look out for bad weather during the set break was shown on the jumbotron as organizers took the stage to announce a stop in the music and urged fans to clear out of the concert area and find shelter.

Minutes later heavy winds rolled in, rain poured and fans fled the concert area.

Organizers were prepared for the weather and stagehands climbed the rigging to lower the tarps on the side and back of the stage, allowing the wind to blow through instead of catching and adding pressure to the permanent structures. Speakers suspended from metal trusses were lowered, but still swayed in the wind.

The tented covering for the Barn Stage, which hosted late night shows, collapsed during the storm, nixing that night’s show by the group Hitchville. It is expected to be open again for tonight’s finale.

A campsite was damaged by a falling tree limb, but no injuries were reported.

Friday’s headliner, Toby Keith, was expected to go on after midnight.

If you go

What: 30th WE Fest

When: Today

Where: Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Info: Only single-day, music only tickets remain for $89.93

(800) 493-3378

Today's lineup

2 p.m. – Gates open

2:45 p.m. – Florida Georgia Line

4:15 p.m. – Little Big Town

6:15 p.m. – Sawyer Brown

8:30 p.m. – Eric Church

10:45 p.m. – Alabama

12:15 a.m. – Florida Georgia Line (Barn Stage)



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