Former headliner Messina, four others sign on for 2011 Jamboree

Scott Swanson

The Oregon Jamboree has signed five more artists for its 2011 festival, three of whom are making return appearances.

Jo Dee Messina, Clay Walker and Sawyer Brown will return this year, and Katie Armiger and Jerry Jeff Walker will be making their first appearances at the Jamboree. They will join headliners Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker and Ronnie Dunn, along with Collin Raye, who were announced earlier.

This year’s festival opens Friday, July 29, and runs through Sunday, July 31.

“We felt like we had a really good line-up of contemporary artists with our headliners and classic country, said Festival Director Erin Regrutto. “But we really want to build a show with a lot of variety. All of these artists have a lot of hits. We’re just trying to keep it fresh.”

She said that because of the Jamboree’s duration – entering its 20th year – many prominent artists have already performed in Sweet Home, so it’s inevitable that some will return.

Two of those returning will likely come back to a warm welcome after giving fans a sizeable dessert helping during their previous performances.

Messina and Clay Walker delivered extended encores during their first visits to Sweet Home, Walker in 2002 and Messina in 2007. Walker appeared again in 2004. Messina worked through a 13-song set, then returned for what was supposed to be two more songs, but turned out to be 10.

Messina, who has sold 5 million albums and recorded nine No. 1 singles over her career, has seen some life changes since her last Jamboree appearance. She got married in October 2007 and gave birth to a son in 2009. Last year she released her sixth album, an EP trilogy titled “Unmistakable.” She will precede headliner Dunn on Friday.

Walker, whose first top hit was “What’s It to You” in 1993 and has recorded four platinum albums in his career, released his latest album, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” last year. The title track rose to No. 4 on the country charts last year, and the album also includes a cover of the Alabama hit “Feels So Right,” with background vocals by Randy Owen and another of the country classic “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” that he recorded with Freddy Fender.

Regrutto said that Walker is “very engaging with the audience.

“He has a fun show to watch,” she said. “And he has a lot of exciting, newer singles.”

Walker will perform Sunday afternoon, prior to headliner Rucker.

Sawyer Brown, a perennial favorite appearing Saturday, last played the Jamboree in 2005, after previous visits in 2000 and 1997.

The band auditioned for “Star Search” in 1983 solely to get a videotape to send to promoters.

Instead, they won the $100,000 first prize and a record contract that has led to three gold albums and one, “The Boys are Back” (1989) that went platinum in Canada, and are the longest uninterrupted run as a band currently in country music.

“They are great,” Regrutto said. “Their show, you can hardly compare it to anything else. There’s just such good energy on stage that it’s contagious.”

Jerry Jeff Walker will make his first appearance at the Jamboree, appearing Sunday afternoon ahead of Clay Walker (no relation).

Jerry Jeff Walker, who released his first album in 1967, is best known for “Mr. Bojangles” and “Sangria Wine,” among his 36 album releases.

“He is a classic act,” Regrutto said. “He’s somebody that people will really like. People may not know his name, but they know his music. He’s a lot of fun – kind of a Texas country act-type.”

Armiger, who will be the Jamboree’s opening act on Friday, is the latest performer to break into country music of the new signees, releasing her first album in the summer of 2007.

She reached the country charts last year with “Kiss Me Now,” the lead-off to her third album, “Confessions of a Nice Girl,” which was released in October and became her first album to chart.

“Best Song Ever,” released as the album’s third single in October, has become Armiger’s highest-charting single thus far.

“She’s a new up-and-coming act, getting a lot of traction and some radio play,” Regrutto said. “She’s very contemporary and very country at the same time.”