We are exactly one week away from Country Jam 2019. Looking back on close to 30 years, there's one particular Country Jam that stands out from the crowd. Here's my pick for the best Jam ever.

I've been to Country Jam every year since it started. If you were there, then you very well remember when the event was held out north of Mesa Mall. Back in those days you parked along a fence, hiked in a way, and sat in the dirt. The stage was a portable rig, and you got your beer out of the back of a truck.

Things have changed a bunch over the years. Nowadays, Country Jam has a "Ranch," a permanent stage with rigging and docking bays. It's grown a ton. Oddly, looking back at all the Jams, my favorite was from the early days.

My personal pick for the best Country Jam ever ... here it comes ... wait for it ...wait for it ... my pick for the best Country Jam ever is.... 1993.

What a great year, 1993. Country music, while hot now, was unbelievably hot in '93. People used to line up around the building on Friday nights to pay a $7 cover charge to get into Grand Junction's "The Rose." Every bar had dress codes, offered Country dance lessons (usually free), and were typically so packed it took 15 minutes to get from your seat to the restrooms.

Country Jam 1993 was very much a sign of the times. The lineup for 1993 included:

  • Alan Jackson
  • Dolly Parton
  • John Michael Montgomery
  • McBride & The Ride
  • Dwight Yoakam
  • Michelle Wright
  • Sawyer Brown
  • Suzy Bogguss
  • Chris LeDoux
  • Vince Gill
  • Waylon Jennings
  • Tanya Tucker
  • Charlie Daniels Band

What was my favorite part of the Country Jam 1993? In a word, Dolly Parton. I've been a fan for a very long time, and yet, somehow never managed to catch her in concert. In order to catch her show, I had to do a little juggling. She played late in the evening, well after sundown. I had a gig that night with the band Shot Gun. We were playing at the Branding Iron Lounge that night. If you're not familiar with the Branding Iron, it was one of those bars that checks you at the door for weapons. If you didn't have one, they gave you one. Seeing Dolly in concert meant I would be at least one hour late to my gig. So, I hired a sub, an excellent player whose name I can't recall, and paid him $30 to cover for me for an hour so I could see Dolly. For another reason why I enjoy Dolly Parton, take a look at the photo at top.

Another standout from 1993 was Waylon Jennings. He put on an excellent show. Along the way, he paused long enough to badmouth Billy Ray Cyrus, praise Travis Tritt, and even gave a shout out to an old buddy of his, Grand Junction bassist Clyde Jorgensen from the band Ralph and Clyde. It was a treat to hear Waylon Jennings on the JumboTron sending out a plug for one of our local boys.

Well, that's my pick for the best Country Jam ever. The worst Jam?.... 2014, but we won't go there. I have this strange feeling that Country Jam 2019 is going to be one for the books. We'll find out in seven days.

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