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Vassar tops Rosefest lineup - Nadas, Shawn Meyer and Tonic Sol-Fa join 3-day festival

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

(Photo)
Phil Vassar heads a stellar lineup of national and area talent at Rosefest.
The Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg is upping the ante on entertainment for northwest Iowa this season.

The fun begins with a free concert May 22 featuring the Iowa Rock N Roll Hall of Famers The Rumbles. Showtime is 7 p.m. Must be age 21 or over with a Wild Rose Player's Club Card.

Next up is the Championship Bull Riding and Barrell Racing Rodeo by local promoters Barnes Rodeo PRCA. The date in May 24, showtime 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for age 12 and up, $5 for younger kids.

On June 13 - comedian Gry Mule Deer, as seen on the Late Show with David Letterman, offers a 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $8, must be 21 with a Player's Club Card.

All this leads to the big summer bash Rosefest, July 17-19, with three headliner outdoor concerts.

Friday the 17th features hot new country star Josh Gracin, who sprung to stardom with three consecutive top five hits off his debut album, along with local star Shawn Mayer, a semifinalist from Nashville Star. Showtime is 6:30 p.m., tickets are $15.

On Saturday the 17th, legendary rockers The Guess Who ("American Woman," "These Eyes" and other rock n roll anthems) take to the stage with Iowa favorites, "The Nadas," originally from Ames, with hits like "Dancing Lucinda".) Showtime is 6:30 p.m., tickets are $15.

The three-day festival concludes with country star Phil Vassar, teamed with area favorite a cappella performers Tonic Sol-Fa. Showtime is 6:30 p.m., tickets are $15.

Those who best understand Phil Vassar -- good-time, whirling-dervish-on-the-piano, hardest-working-man-in-country-music Phil Vassar -- also understand the ongoing evolution of his mostly self-penned music. And Prayer Of A Common Man, his fourth studio album, adds several more layers of artistic expression to his deepening repertoire.

The Virginia-born singer, songwriter and musician took his seat as country's leading piano man with the success of songs like "Just Another Day In Paradise" and "Six-Pack Summer," and his penchant for pure musical escapism continues. Phil's heart-swelling embrace of life's richest blessings is also apparent, especially on lead single "Love Is A Beautiful Thing." At the same time, his writing has grown more introspective and personal, as "This Is My Life" and the title track can attest.

He considered his place in the world with "American Child," addressed hard questions of faith in "This Is God" and explored that which truly brings meaning in his most recent smash, last year's "Last Day Of My Life."

As a single, involved father of two - daughters Haley, 9 and Presely, 4 - Phil feels those concerns acutely. "It's easy to be a happy-go-lucky guy when you're young," Phil says. "Having kids raises your level of concern about just about everything."

For instance, the tragedy at Virginia Tech, which hit home -- quite literally -- for the Lynchburg, Virginia native and James Madison University alum. "The world I'm raising my kids in is more important to me now." In August 2007 he headlined the Concert for Virginia Tech with Dave Matthews and John Mayer.

Vassar grew up as the son of a regionally-known singer, but his interest was sports, and it earned him a track scholarship to JMU. He majored in business to please his parents, but couldn't resist the lure of the music. He arrived in Nashville in 1987, bartending at night to fund his musical career. He saved and bought the nightclub where he was performing. His first success was as a songwriter, penning hits for Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"), Collin Raye ("Little Red Rodeo"), Tim McGraw ("My Next Thirty Years") and Jo Dee Messina ("I'm Alright" and "Bye, Bye.")