FLORENCE, AZ—It’s Concert Festival Season! First stop, the beautiful Canyon Moon Ranch for Country Thunder Arizona 2023 held from April 13-16 in beautiful Florence, Arizona. Headliners included Luke Bryan, Jon Pardi, Cody Johnson and hometown hero, Dierks Bentley, wrapping up the weekend with a career spanning set on Sunday night.
Bentley thanked the audience for their three decades of love and support. “It’s a big deal to be closing out country Thunder in my home state of Arizona. This is what made me who I am,” said Bentley. A heartfelt sentiment resonating with the wildly enthusiastic crowd, where the line between artist and fan vanished.
Fridays headliners included Ashley McBryde, who has such an angelic voice, combined with her charm and self-effacing humor; she was outstanding. McBryde has become a huge star, even if you don’t enjoy country music, odds are you have heard her name.
Next up was “American Idol” judge and all-around good guy Luke Bryan. Bryan clearly loves to keep the party people smiling, showing off his lampshade, likeable frat boy humor-while legions of screaming and dancing fans shouted every lyric of his numerous hits at the fairgrounds.
Friday night at Country Thunder meant dusting off a handful of old country songs, from Ronnie Milsap’s “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me” to Conway Twitty’s version of the Pointer Sisters’ “Slow Hand” and the Brooks and Dunn hit “Neon Moon.” He clearly loves that sincere portion of the set, making the moment underneath the picturesque, desert sky even more engaging.
To close out this weekend was hometown hero Dierks Bentley. He spoke of leaving Arizona 30 years ago to try his hand at Nashville. Judging by his 18 #1 hits and the crowd’s response it was a wise decision. And a seamless, perfect way to end the country party weekend.
The setting was absolutely breathtaking; the carved mountains alongside the golden sunset, tinged with the orange and purple hue of the clouds. Country Thunders lasting image was one of loud music, great times and desert memories.