4 highlights from Luke Bryan's rain-soaked return to an Iowa farm
Luke Bryan's block party on Broadway Larry McCormack, email@example.com
A little rain — and a lot of mud — wasn't stopping thousands of Iowa's country music faithful from sharing a night on the farm with Luke Bryan.
The award-winning Georgia-raised country entertainer brought his 10th annual Farm Tour to the Ziel Farm in Boone on Saturday night, the event's second straight year stopping in central Iowa.
Mother nature greeted those dedicated to seeing Bryan with drizzling rain, below-average temperatures and concert grounds caked a thick layer of mud.
Here's a look at a few highlights from the season's biggest country concert:
Rain, rain was there to stay
Each of the night's four performers — Bryan, Chase Rice, the Peach Pickers and Jon Langston — faced the elements on stage. And each embraced it, making soaked and shivering onlookers a bit more comfortable under the circumstances.
Bryan called his crowd "hardcore" for holding out in the 45-degree weather until his 9:35 p.m. set.
"Goodness gracious, Iowa," Bryan said during the 100-minute performance. "Y'all are a lot tougher than my south Georgia ass, that's all I gotta say."
Concert crew worked between sets to clean the stage with squeegees, only to be met with repeated drizzle as each band took the stage.
Rice, playing tracks such as "Gonna Wanna Tonight" and "Everybody We Know Does," offered a solution that earned a number of cheers: "Help us get through (tonight) with a little bit of Jack Daniels."
And the weather impacted performances. Gusting winds during support acts sent the sound whipping through the back of the grounds.
Bryan noted at one point that his hands may be too cold to play the guitar (still, he played the parts).
"I'm gonna attempt to play guitar," Bryan, shaking cold out of his hands, said before a solo take of "Home Alone Tonight."
Peach pickin' open
Opening talent included Nashville songwriting group the Peach Pickers, which played support on the Farm Tour's 2017 stop in Boone, as well.
The group's known for penning songs for some of country's biggest names — Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett (Rhett's father, Rhett Akins, is a member), Jon Pardi and Bryan.
Peach Pickers members offered renditions of songs they've written for the above stars, plus a few more. It gives fans an interesting opportunity to see some of country radio's biggest hits come to life via the songwriter, instead of the star.
Notables from the Pickers' 13-song set include Shelton's "Honey Bee" and "Boys 'Round Here," Rhett's "Life Changes" and Lee Brice's "Parking Lot Party."
Rice played main support for the 50-minute set that included a medley veering off the night's gravel road radio country theme.
He introduced his band by leading each member through Blink-182's "All The Small Things," Lynard Skynard's "Sweet Home Alabama," a drum solo to Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" and — to the delight of an otherwise somber Cyclone nation — Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
Rice closed his set with "Cruise," the No. 1 country song he co-wrote for Florida Georgia Line.
Dance the cold off
Bryan took the stage in a pair of knee-high rain boots, which didn't stop him from breaking out the hip-shaking, catwalk dancing and endless jumping fans have come to expect.
He set the hip-shaking tone early by opening with dance number "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" before leading into "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day" and "I Don't Want This Night to End."
The two-time Country Music Association entertainer of the year toured Iowa in support of "What Makes You Country," his sixth studio album, released last December. He played a few off the new record — the title track, "Light It Up," "Most People Are Good" and "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset" — but made plenty of time to dig back into his decade-long discography. He went as deep as 2009's "Do I," a breakout hit.
Bryan complimented onlookers throughout for making the trip to the farm, in spite of the conditions. He even toned the party down for a minute to warn fans about exiting safely.
"On your way home, I want everybody being really, really careful," Bryan said. "We're gonna have the world's largest muddin' contest ... but I want you to be patient and remember that we're on somebody's farm."
Bryan played a 21-song set and, fittingly, didn't leave without offering his 2010 chart-topper "Rain Is A Good Thing."
From "Rain," he closed the set with "Move" and "That's My Kind Of Night."
A Poppe surprise
Eight songs into his set, Bryan offered "American Idol" fans a treat by reuniting with 2018 winner and Iowa native Maddie Poppe.
Poppe and Bryan performed a duet of "Picture," a Shery Crow and Kid Rock number from 2002. Bryan then let Poppe perform solo; she covered Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee."
"I think a lot of people would've canceled in weather like this, but (Bryan's) such a great guy," Poppe told the audience. "Give it up for him."