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Paynesville Press - July 14, 2004

Cornstalk coming to Regal next weekend

By Michael Jacobson

Fifteen years ago, the late Johnny Cash came to Regal to play country music, and Cornstalk was born.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the festival, which has been held every year since except 1998.

National recording artists scheduled to come to Regal this year include Earl Thomas Conley, Clay Walker, and Chuck Negron, the former lead singer of Three Dog Night. (Details were still being finalized at press time about bringing Negron to Cornstalk.)

The festival, hosted by the County Line Bar, will start on Thurday, July 22, with the opening of the campground and live music in the bar starting at 9 p.m. Music is scheduled to start outside on Friday and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. each day.

The schedule of national artists includes Jolie Edwards at 6 p.m., Conley at 8 p.m., and Clay Walker at 10 p.m. on Friday, and Trent Wilmon at 6 p.m., Brian McComas at 8 p.m., and Negron at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Don Driggs, owner of the County Line Bar, said Cornstalk 2004 almost was not held. Required paperwork after the settlement of a lawsuit dispute involving Cornstalk this spring meant a late start in arranging acts for the musical festival, according to Driggs, who did not want to arrange the festival at the last minute again. But then fans saved Cornstalk, according to Driggs. Devoted fans kept asking him about the lineup and where they could buy tickets, and Driggs said he felt he had to stage Cornstalk again because he had promised fans last year and because of their adamant response.

"The phone is ringing off the hook," he said. "People are excited." The biggest draw this year could be Clay Walker, who previously performed at Cornstalk in 1996.

Walker, raised in Texas, has released four studio albums - Clay Walker (1993), If I Could Make a Living (1994), Hypnotize the Moon (1995), and Rumor Has It (1997) - and a greatest hits album. Walker has sung nine #1 hits: "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," "Who Needs You Baby," "Hypnotize the Moon," "Rumor Has It," and "Then What."

Also performing on Friday are Conley and Edwards.

Conley, a native of Ohio, discoverer music while in the army and moved to Nashville in 1968. His song, "This Time I've Hurt Her More Than She Loves Me," was a #1 hit for Conway Twitty in 1975.

Conley hit #1 on his own in 1982 with "Fire and Smoke." In 1983, his album Don't Make It Easy For Me produced four #1 songs, including "Holding Her and Loving You," which won a Grammy Award for Country Song of the Year.

Conley took a seven-year hiatus in the 1990s but re-emerged in 1998 with a new album, Perpetual Emotion, and returned to the stage. Edwards, from Nebraska, released her debut album, Midwest Girl, in June 2004.

On Saturday, the lineup features Wilmon, McComas, and Negron. Wilmon, from Texas, released his debut single, "Beer Man," and his first album in 2004. McComas also recently released his first eponymous album, Brian McComas.

Negron, a founding member of the popular 1960s and 1970s rock band Three Dog Night, is scheduled to close Cornstalk on Saturday night. (The contract with Negron was not finished at press time.)

A native of the Bronz, Negron headed to the west coast for college and to start a music career. In 1967, he helped found Three Dog Night, which sold 50 million records by 1975 and has sold 90 million records to date.

While Negron sang with the band, Three Dog Night produced 21 top 40 hits, eight top 10 hits, and five #1 singles, including "Joy to the World" with the well-known start "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." "Joy to the World" won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Record of the Year.

The original Three Dog Night disbanded in 1977.

Negron wrote a book about his career with Three Dog Night, about his addiction, and the miracle that saved him in 1991. Since then, he has released four solo albums.

General admission tickets for Cornstalk 2004 are $30 per night in advance and $35 at the gate.

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