‘The Bash’ wraps up another year

Saturday headliners Dan + Shay performed at the Big Country Bash in St. Charles. 

Angela Rivas

The 2018 Big Country Bash wrapped up another successful year this weekend in St. Charles, Iowa. The two-day festival headlined with big named artists Kane Brown, Brett Eldridge and Dan + Shay.

With a population of only 653 people, St. Charles hosted more than 7,500 people for the festival.

The gates opened at 3 p.m. on Friday and the crowd flooded in. The first act of the festival was Justin Adams. Following Adams was Russel Dickerson, Phil Vassar and Kane Brown on Friday.

“There’s no better place to be than Iowa on a Friday,” said Kane Brown. His headlining act included singles “Heaven,” “Better Place” and “Lose It”. Brown previously played a sold out show at the Seven Flags Event Center in 2017.

Brown is a Chattanooga, Tennessee native. He made a name for himself after winning his 11th-grade talent show. Brown toured with Florida Georgia Line in 2016, but is now selling out his own stadium shows.

Earlier this month at the Country Music Television Awards, Brown won his first ever CMT award for Collaborative Video with “What Ifs,” a collab with Lauren Alaina.

On Friday night Brown pulled an 11-year-old girl, Maliya Carlson, on stage to help him sing. Malaya has alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it actually happened,” said Carlson. “I was scared at first because I don’t like going into a bunch of people, but it was fun once I got on there and started getting used to it.”

The second day continued with acts Sierra Annie Band, Tucker Beathard, Raelynn, Aaron Watson, Midland, Dan + Shay and Brett Eldridge.

“I bet you party hard in Iowa,” yelled Raelynn.


Her set included singles “Queens Don’t” and “Lonely Call”.

Aaron Watson moved the crowd with his powerful “Bluebonnets” single. Six years ago, Watson and his wife lost their daughter, Julia. Only hours old, the baby passed away from Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality. The ballad is in remembrance of the couple’s fourth child.  

“We don’t need a record deal cause we have you guys,” Watson said. “I’m too busy fishing to care.”


The Texas native released his ninth record Vaquero last year.

1970s reminiscent trio, Midland, spread the love on Saturday night.

“We get paid to travel and be away from home, but the music, we do that for free,” said vocalist Mark Wystach.  The group’s freshman album, “On the Rocks,” was released last year and has received reviews from Rolling Stone as the “year’s best country album”.  

Brett Eldridge closed the night and the 2018 festival. The 32-year-old opened his set with “Something I’m Good At.”

“I guarantee that you know this song,” Brett Eldridge said to begin his set.

Eldridge’s self-titled fourth studio album was released in 2017. Echoes of his hit singles “Lose My Mind” and “Don’t Ya” filled the amphitheater as the crowd swayed back and forth.

Located 63 miles south of Ames, Big Country Bash artist Phil Vassar did not forget about Ames.

“I wrote this song about a girl from Ames, Iowa,” said Vassar, referring to his 2006 release, “For A Little While.”

Backstreet boy AJ McLean made an appearance on Friday in the “Club Nash VIP tent.” McLean joined the Country Music Association in Nashville last year. His first release, “Back Porch Bottle Service,” was released early this month.

“I’m kind of a chameleon,” said McLean in an interview with Billboard, referring to how he is starting to blend in to other genres. McLean was featured on Florida Georgia Line’s “God, Your Mama, and Me,” in 2017. He returned on Saturday to help throw out t-shirts with the National Guard.

The festivals first time at the St. Charles Amphitheatre went off with a hitch. Previously the event had been hosted at locations including Water Works and the Blank Park Zoo.

Vendors included Roadside Tacos, the Outside Scoop and Campbell’s, an Iowa State Fair favorite, were available during the festival.

Curator Sam Summers of First Fleet Productions took over the Big Country Bash last year with NASH FM radio. First Fleet Productions will host Hinterland in August at the St. Charles Amphitheater.