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The next big country star may be named at Copper

Keely Brown
Special to the Daily
ALL |

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Move over “American Idol” ” Copper Country might just challenge you to a throw down.

This weekend, Copper Country will be holding its second annual Peak Performer contest to determine America’s next country music phenomenon. Throughout August, performers have been voted off the musical island, and it’s now down to two of Denver’s own: singers Kerri Griffith and Kory Brunson.

Both Griffith and Brunson will compete in a showdown this Saturday and Sunday, with the ultimate winner to be determined by the audience, which will have the opportunity to vote via text-messaging.

It promises to be an exciting match between two young performers who are already veterans of the regional music scene.

Finalist Kerri Griffith started performing 11 years ago at the ripe old age of 9. Since then, Griffith has performed in clubs all over the country, from Colorado to Nashville to Florida.

For Tuesday night’s semifinals, she sang a Sugarland song, “Just Might Make Me Believe.” But Griffith said Wednesday she still hasn’t decided what she’ll be singing for this weekend’s finals.

While Griffith has been compared to singers like Tanya Tucker and Wynonna Judd, she considers her style to be her own unique mix of southern rock and blues. She counts Tim McGraw and Alicia Keys among her favorite singers ” with one above all the rest.

“Alison Krauss is my all-time favorite singer,” Griffith said. “She actually records at my studio in Nashville.”

The 21-year-old country phenomenon has been getting radio airplay in Colorado thanks to demo recordings she recently made in Nashville. This fall, Griffith and her parents are finally making the big move to Nashville, where she has several club gigs already lined up.

Griffith says that she’s thrilled to have made the finals in the Peak Performer competition.

“I’m so excited, because it’s a once in a lifetime chance to get to meet with the William Morris Agency and get your name out there,” she said.

But whatever happens, the young performer is also enough of a show-biz veteran to be philosophical about the competitive angle.

“Everything you do is a learning experience,” she said. “But I love performing on a huge stage like that ” it’s such a rush for me. And I love performing for a big audience ” it’s so cool.”

Finalist Kory Brunson recalls that his first public performance was at the age of 5, at a church musical.

“I sang a song called “Germs, Germs, My Invisible Dog,” and I can still remember the words,” he recalled.

Brunson started his career as a professional musician in Denver at the age of 16, performing in festivals and clubs throughout the Front Range. In 2002, Brunson formed the Kory Brunson Band.

The singer/songwriter got interested in the Copper Peak Performer competition after seeing it advertised on the KYGO radio website. During Tuesday night’s semifinals, Brunson took the stage with his partner Craig Bennington, performing an original song, “Hard Country,” which they’ll perform again during this weekend’s finals.

Brunson calls his musical style “rock country.”

“We describe it as Keith Urban meets Rascal Flats meets Aerosmith,” he said.

This is a busy weekend for Brunson; in addition to the Copper competition, he and his band will also be performing this Saturday night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Denver.

This fall, the Kory Brunson Band will release their first album, “My Country.” A patriotic single from the album, “We Know You’re Out There,” is already getting nationwide radio airplay.

Although their agent and manager is in Nashville, for now Brunson and his band plan to keep Denver as a home base.

“Our plans right now are to make a great record,” Brunson said. “If you do that, it doesn’t matter what your address is; people will listen to it and you’ll get to do what you want to do with your career.”

As for the Copper competition, Brunson hopes for the best, but sees it as another milestone on the road to fame.

“We feel lucky and privileged to be a part of it, but we don’t look at it as a lynchpin,” he said. “We understand that success is a process, not an event.”

Copper will be going country throughout Labor Day weekend, with appearances by Big and Rich, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cowboy Troy and a host of others ” including Copper’s own country music version of “American Idol,” where the audience can vote for its favorite (see main story).

In addition, Copper’s Pavilion will be filled with outdoor vendors and artists throughout the weekend. Other events include a Kids’ Corral filled with rodeo booths and activities, as well as a full-scale rodeo championship.

Friday

3-6 p.m. Outdoor vendors open at the Burning Stones Plaza.

Saturday

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Vendor Village and Fine Artist Pavilion at the Pavilion.

9 a.m.-3 p.m. Copper Kids’ Corral at the Beeler Lot.

1-3 p.m. Copper Country Rodeo Championships at the Beeler Lot.

Noon-12:30 p.m. Railbenders on the Main Stage.

12:35-12:45 p.m. Peak Performers Finalist Competition on the Main Stage.

12:50-1:40 p.m. Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband on the Main Stage.

2-3:15 p.m. Muzik Mafia on the Main Stage.

3:45-5:30 p.m. Big and Rich featuring Cowboy Troy on the Main Stage.

7 p.m. Bull Boogie Mechanical Bull at the Burning Stones Plaza.

8 p.m. Boot Scoot Party with The Flap ‘n’ Jacks at McGillicuddy’s.

8:30 p.m. Copper Country Movie, “Pure Country,” at Jack’s.

Sunday

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Vendor Village and Fine Artist Pavilion at the Pavilion.

9 a.m.-3 p.m. Copper Kids Corral at the Beeler Lot.

1-3 p.m. Copper Country Rodeo Championships at the Beeler Lot.

Noon-12:35 p.m. Flap ‘n’ Jacks on the Main Stage.

12:40-12:50 p.m. Peak Performers Finalist Competition on the Main Stage

1-1:50 p.m. Bill Miller on the Main Stage.

1:50-1:55 p.m. Peak Performer Award on the Main Stage.

2-2:50 p.m. Mark Selby on the Main Stage.

3:20-4:50 p.m. Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Main Stage.

For tickets: $22 for an adult one-day ticket and $39 for both days if purchased in advance or $35 per day if purchased at the gate. Children ages 6-13 are $5 per day and kids 5 and under are free. During the three-day event, outside alcohol, coolers and pets will not be allowed. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

http://www.ticketmaster.com or

http://www.coppercolorado.com.

Vail, Colorado


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