Jamboree party starts Thursday

Sean C. Morgan

The 19th Annual Oregon Jamboree starts Thursday evening with a kickoff party in the Safeway parking lot leading into the three-day festival featuring Ronnie Dunn, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker.

“I’m excited,” said Festival Director Erin Regrutto. “I think it’s going to be a really good show.”

Volunteers are dropping by the office and gathering supplies and equipment, preparing for the show, Regrutto said. “It really feels like Jamboree time now.”

Work started on the site Monday. Sankey Park is closed to allow time to set up the Spirit Mountain Casino stage and the rest of the expanded festival area. Eighteenth Avenue closes at 2 p.m. on Thursday, and 14th Avenue closes at 7 a.m. on Friday.

In addition to the The Spirit Mountain Casino stage in Sankey Park, a new twist for the Jamboree this year will be “The Sweet Spot,” which is intended to address the concerns of people in the reserved seating area, Regrutto said. The standing-room-only area will give fans a chance to get close to the stage without jostling the fans in reserved seating – or creating unsafe situations. Last year, a metal ramp buckled under the weight of fans during the Keith Urban show.

The area, directly in front of the stage, will have two controlled entrances at each end of the stage. Space there is limited.

“The only way for us to make it fair, to limit the number of people, is to actually charge for it,” Regrutto said. A pass for the area may be purchased on a daily basis.

“We wanted the first and second row of people to not have a compromised line of sight,” Regrutto said. “We wanted to maintain the same visual experience they have had in past years.”

That means the reserved section has been moved back 3 feet, “the equivalent of one adult step,” Regrutto said.

Another new wrinkle this year is the opportunity for fans to use their smart phones to take photos and upload them to the Jamboree through Facebook, Regrutto said. The Jamboree will then post some of those photos to the big screens, where fans might have a chance to see themselves.

The performance starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday, with Katie Armiger, followed by Jason Jones, Jo Dee Messina and Ronnie Dunn.

Dunn, half of the superstar duo Brooks and Dunn, which headlined the second year of the Jamboree in 1993, released his self-titled solo album on June 7, featuring the singles “Bleed Red” and “Cost of Livin’.”

“He’s definitely on an uptick,” Regrutto said. “If you turn on any radio station, you’ll hear him, his solo stuff, right now.”

Playing just before Dunn is Messina, who released her new album, “Unmistakable,” as three EPs, “Love,” “Drive” and “Inspiration,” in 2010. Messina was a 2007 headliner.

Friday night, the Oregon Jamboree will have a major announcement for the 2012 Jamboree.

“We have a great mix of old and new acts too,” Regrutto said.

Lady Antebellum headlines Saturday night following Troy Olsen, Collin Raye, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Sawyer Brown.

Lady Antebellum is one of the hottest acts in country music right now, Regrutto said, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is among the legends of country music, known for “Fishin’ in the Dark” and “Mr. Bojangles.”

With a new single, “Just a Kiss,” released in May, Lady Antebellum is scheduled to release its third album, “Own the Night,” on Sept. 13.

The trio has received numerous Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music and Grammy awards following two albums since 2007, “Lady Antebellum,” with “I Run to You,” and “Need You Now,” with the hits “Need You Now” and “American Honey.”

Sawyer Brown, which plays just before Lady Antebellum, is a veteran of the Jamboree, performing in 1997, 2000 and 2005.

The group is among the country legends this year, said Teresa Stas, sales and marketing director for the Jamboree.

A long string of hits dating to 1984 include songs like “Step that Step,” “Some Girls Do,” “The Walk,” “Thank God for You,” and “This Time.”

The band hasn’t released much in recent years, but the band is known as a great live band, Regrutto said.

Collin Raye plays early in the day allowing him to headline the second stage Saturday night, with a rowdier set. Raye played in the inaugural Jamboree, in 1992.

“He’s been a huge name, and he still is,” Regrutto said.

Raye’s last album release was “Never Going Back,” in 2009. His long string of hits, beginning in 1991, includes “Love, Me,” “In This Life,” “Little Red Rodeo,” “My Kind of Girl” and “I Can Still Feel You.”

Darius Rucker closes out the Jamboree Sunday night. Laura Bell Bundy opens the day, followed by Jerry Jeff Walker and Clay Walker.

Rucker is touring in support of his October album, “Charleston, SC 1966,” with the singles, “Come Back Song” and “This.” As frontman with Hootie and the Blowfish, he had four hits, “Let Her Cry,” “Hold My Hand,” “Only Wanna Be With You” and “Time,” on the album “Cracked Rear View.”

“He’s a really phenomenal showman,” Regrutto said. “He’s such a natural performer.”

Teresa Stas, sales and marketing, said she saw one of Rucker’s acoustic shows.

“Then I went out and bought the Hootie album again,” Stas said.

Sunday’s lineup includes the man who wrote “Mr. Bojangles,” Jerry Jeff Walker.

Following him is two-time Jamboree veteran Clay Walker, who headlined in 2002 and 2004, giving fans an extended encore during his first appearance.

His list of number-one hits include “What’s It to You,” “Live Until I Die,” “Dreaming with My Eyes Open,” “If I Could Make a Living,” “This Woman and This Man” and “Rumor Has It.”

The Spirit Mountain Casino stage features a variety of up-and-coming artists in addition to Raye.

Second stage artists will perform between main stage shows, Regrutto said. “There’s always going to be music.”

“They’re all out of Nashville, already touring or on major record labels,” Stas said. “They’re all label artists, up and coming, in the process of releasing albums or recording.”

Headlining the stage on Sunday night is Christian Kane, an actor on the television program, “Leverage,” Stas said. He will take a break from his shooting schedule to perform at the Jamboree.

Sankey Park will have a main stage screen this year, Regrutto said. It also returns a beer garden and the Northwest Natural Kids Zone.

A mechanical bull will be set up near the second stage, the parks’ bandstand, and a chainsaw sculptor will provide demonstrations prior to the first show of the day.

As a preliminary to the Jamboree celebration, KRKT will broadcast live from the Safeway parking lot Thursday evening, from 6 to 9 p.m. during the Jamboree kickoff party.

It will be the last chance to win Jamboree tickets, along with other prizes, which will include meet-and-greet passes, Sweet Spot passes and giveaways by Safeway.

Concertgoers can grab a passport there and take it to participating businesses, Regrutto said. Anyone who turns in a passport with eight stamps can turn it in at the Jamboree for a chance to win 2012 tickets and to meet Rucker.

Safeway also will present a check to the Sweet Home Swim Club.

The Oregon Jamboree is a three-day camping and music festival owned by the Sweet Home Economic Development Group. Proceeds from the event provide funding for local economic development projects.

For more information about the Jamboree, call 367-8800.