After a disappointing turnout last year, Oakdale’s Sierra View Music Fest is scaling back from a two-day event to a one-day event, and dropping rock to focus on country.
The five-year-old festival, set for Sept. 14 on the rolling hills of the private JH Ranch, features five-time Grammy winner Wynonna and the Big Noise; 21-year-old singer Joel Crouse, who has opened for Taylor Swift; and Rachele Lynae, who co-wrote the party anthem “Party ’Til the Cows Come Home.”
“Last year we took a real slide backward and lost $45,000,” said Jim Brunk, who owns the ranch and organizes the concert as a fund-raiser for the Heidi Brunk Foundation, which honors his late wife and provides music scholarships to area students.
He said only about 1,000 people attended the country night, which featured headliner Gloriana and other acts, and about 1,500 attended the rock night, which included classic rock acts Night Ranger, Great White plus rock guitarist Pat Travers and more.
The foundation was only able to award one $1,000 music scholarship as compared to the previous year when the foundation awarded five.
Brunk said he isn’t sure why the show was a bust. He said it may be because the shows conflicted with high school football games.
He chose to only book country acts this year because he believes it is a better fit for the region.
“Being from Oakdale, I enjoy the rodeo, I embrace country music,” he said. “I thought when I was going through a list of (available) performers how having Wynonna in Oakdale would be a hit. She’s obviously a voice. People know her.”
Wynonna first gained fame in the 1980s as one-half of the mother-daughter duo the Judds. She and her mother, Naomi Judd, recorded a string of hits, including “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ’Bout the Good Old Days”). After Naomi Judd was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the early 1990s, Wynonna went solo, recording the hits “She Is His Only Need,” “I Saw the Light” and “No One Else on Earth.”
Wynonna didn’t do well in her brief run earlier this year on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” – she was the first celebrity to be knocked out of the competition.
Brunk said he’s glad she’s back focusing on her music and that she’s performing again with her husband, drummer Cactus Moser, who has recovered from a motorcycle accident. Brunk is also happy that Wynonna’s appearance at Sierra View is her only concert within a 150-mile radius.
While the public is less familiar with Crouse and Lynae, Brunk hopes people give them a chance. He figures Crouse must be doing something right if he’s opening for Swift. Lynae has local roots having grown up in the northern Sacramento area. She moved away for a time to an Alaskan fishing village and then scored success in Nashville.
“She looks like a little pack of dynamite,” he said. “She’s going to be pretty electrifying on stage.”
Brunk hopes to be able to raise enough to give away $5,000 to $7,000 in music scholarships from this year’s concert.
“The bottom line of this concert is it’s a fund-raiser to make money for scholarships for high school kids,” he said. “Regardless if you don’t like the artists, think about what the cause is.”