The bands performing at this year’s Kansas Wheat Festival will bring a diverse mix of dance pop, classic rock, British invasion classics and red dirt country songs about drinking beer and facing down memories.
A documentary film about The Beatles, playing at 2 p.m. July 10 at the Regent Theatre will precede the live music to be launched the following evening. At 7 p.m. July 11, Soul Injection will perform, followed by Annie Up at 9 p.m.
The three nights of concerts, brought by the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention Visitors Bureau, will be set up on a stage in the 200 block of Washington Avenue in front of Memorial Auditorium facing south will also consist of street dances. Wheat Festival buttons, which can be purchased at the chamber of commerce office and all financial institutions in Wellington, are required at the dances and concerts. Festival goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Soul Injection, comprised of young talent and musicians who have been around for decades, describes itself in an official biography as a “variety band specializing in good party music. We cover music from the classics to today’s top 40, from Santana to Marvin Gaye, Maroon 5 to Rick James and the Stone City Band.” Soul Injection won the Wichita River Festival’s Battle of the Bands in 2009.
Annie Up could also be called a variety band. How do you classify a group that plays everything from Bruno Mars to old Johnny Cash to ‘70s Earth, Wind and Fire?
"I’m fascinated by them,” Mark Green, entertainment director for the Wheat Festival said. “They really cross the board on what people like. That’s their niche. They can appease anyone on the genre spectrum.”
At 9 p.m. July 12, Ringer Star, a singer and drummer originally from Detroit, who looks like Ringo Starr, will perform. He will be backed by Across the Pond, a group of veteran musicians in their mid 50s to mid 60s who play strictly British rock/pop.
Jon Weaver, lead guitarist and musical director for Across the Pond, said, “Our criteria is they gotta be from the British Isles and not necessarily Great Britain, but part of the U.K.”
Across the Pond always starts their shows with music by The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones. “They were the big three in the beginning,” Weaver said.
From there it’s covers by the pantheon of British rock bands: The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. They even do a Queen song.
Country music will be featured July 13 with Mark Brownlee Jr. and ATG at 6 p.m., The Jason Boyd Band at 7:30 p.m. and headliners Jason Boland and the Stragglers at 9 p.m.
Brownlee Jr. recorded an album, “Muddy Water, Lovin’ and U” that is available on iTunes. He started out, playing guitar and banjo in his father, Mark Brownlee Sr.’s band in the early 2000s. His dad got his band back together just to back Brownlee Jr.
“He’s really a good songwriter,” Brownlee Sr. said. “I’ve written quite a few songs, myself. His songs are much more relevant and current. They need to be on display.”
Brownlee Jr. has written such up tempo songs as “Walk on Water” and “Get it While it’s Good” and the ballad, “Hello Memory.”
Jason Boyd, who grew up in South Haven and Wellington, started out performing as a youngster in his late father, Kenny Boyd’s band, Straw Boss. Weaver, of Across the Pond, also played n Straw Boss.
The Jason Boyd Band has recorded two EPs in Nashville and in 2016 had two hits in Texas, “One Phone Call” and “Break Your Stride.”
Playing the Wheat Festival is “a nostalgic thing for me,” Boyd said, “because my father played that festival for many, many years. I’ve tried my best to carry that legacy on.”
Jason Boland and the Stragglers are the biggest band to perform at the festival. The band formed in 1998 when Boland and percussionist Brad Rice met, while attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The band has recorded nine studio albums. Their latest, released last year, is called “Hard Times Are Relative.”
“They’ve had good national success, but they’re not superstars yet,” Green said.