Lucky to have her.
Both generally and specifically.
Calgary is lucky to call Lindsay Ell our own — a stunning country songwriter, vocalist and GD great guitarist, she embodies the best of contemporary C&W in an age where it’s struggling to determine what it actually is.
And, more importantly, we’re lucky that she’ll help open Country Thunder on Friday, Aug. 16 during the first day of the three-day fest taking place until Sunday at the northeast Prairie Winds Park. It will help close what has been a “busy … crazy” summer for the performer.
“But it’s good, it’s just going to progress quickly into the fall,” she says of the show that will quickly transition from hectic hot-month, open-air fest experiences to an arena tour with Brantley Gilbert through the rest of the fall.
The artist, who’s called Nashville her home for the past nine years, is looking forward to returning home and performing at the fest, which she also helped christen in 2016 with a spectacular set.
“I’m so excited to be back,” she says, noting that it’s been fun to watch the Country Thunder brand build to now five festivals throughout North America.
“Just the lineups and the fan experience … they’ve really grown the Country Thunder experience into something you don’t want to miss.
“It’s really special to be a part of them.”
Making it even more special is that fact that the Friday opening night features an all-female lineup including Meghan Patrick, Ell, Tanya Tucker and Miranda Lambert. That it’s been done without any fuss — hell, I didn’t even notice until halfway through the interview with Lindsay — is all the more exciting, surprising and “special.”
Ell says she’s been involved with other festivals where it was ladies night onstage, but says it never loses its feeling of sisterhood, with the backstage experience warm, welcoming and all wondering if this is how male artists playing at fests always feel.
“I. Love. It,” she says. “I’m so happy to be a part of that Country Thunder day, but it’s also amazing that it’s not being broadcasted as, ‘This is an all-female day.’ It’s just another day of the festival and that’s how it should be. The fact that they’re highlighting female artists and celebrating female artists and we can be a part of it and all come together … is amazing.”
A fan of all of the other musicians on the Friday bill, she’s hoping that there might be a moment at the end of the evening when they all come onstage together for a performance that shows solidarity, highlights the talent there is.
As for the rest of her show, well, yes, expect the hits and others from her career, especially her 2017 release The Project, which, in musical terms, was a long, long time ago.
“It’s been way too long,” she says, acknowledging the fact that all of the touring has hindered her ability to release new music. “And I’m going crazy right now …
“But I am in the studio, I am recording new music and I will have new songs in the fall with a record to follow early in the new year.”
That said, good news, she promises to premiere some of that long-awaited, much-anticipated new material in her Country Thunder set.
“You definitely will get a sampling,” she says. “I’m probably going to play a couple of songs at Country Thunder, and I will definitely play a few of them at the fan club party in order to really show fans what’s coming.”
On that latter note, sworn to secrecy, you can expect an announcement at Country Thunder of something special she has planned during Country Music Week, taking place in her hometown Sept. 5 to 8 and culminating in the CCMA Awards show on the Sunday, where she’s up, deservedly, for four trophies — including FemaleArtist of the Year — and will perform at several shows during the week.
“It will be cool, it will be something that the fans will be able to watch and be part of,” she says. “I’m excited about it.”
So should you be.
And feel lucky.
Lindsay Ell performs Friday, Aug. 16 at Country Thunder taking place at Prairie Winds Park. For tickets and info go to https://www.countrythunder.com/ab.