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December 05, 2016
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Lightning in a bottle

The Somerville brothers, Ken, left, and Barry split their time between Monticello and Nashville writing and performing country music.

The bash began with a big welcome to spectators by Bold Gold Media Group’s Vince Benedetto and Cellinni, followed by the Marine Corps’ presentation of the colors and newcomer Alyssa Sartup’s rendition of the national anthem. The show featured plenty of homegrown talent including Cathy Paty, Jason Casterlin and Brian Dunne, all of whom are (IMHO) stars on the horizon. Local boys-make-good Ken and Barry Somerville were also on the bill and the wildly popular duo now splits their time between Monticello and Nashville, writing and recording for themselves and well known giants in the industry. Even though the brothers have experienced a meteoric rise in country music, they continue to play local venues whenever they can and are always on hand for fundraisers like ThunderBash.

Tickets for the concert were offered to the public at no charge, but folks were asked to make a donation once there, benefiting the St. Jude Research Hospital and the Sullivan County YMCA ( More than $10,000 was raised for the organizations, and a pair of tickets to the Country Music Association (CMA) Music Fest in Nashville was awarded to one lucky winner, who will have the opportunity to see superstars Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, among others.

As the excitement mounted, Tommy Steel took to the stage and entertained with a solid set of hits, as the band’s fans flocked to the stage, prepping the crowd for southern rock faves Iron Cowboy. Cowboy’s motto “country music with horsepower” makes sense when you hear them, and front man “Big John” Davis never disappoints. Davis and company rocked the house and brought the audience to its feet before headliners Steel Magnolia hit the stage. Duo Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones formed the band in 2009 and have already been nominated by the Academy of Country Music as Top Vocal Duo. Their gorgeous harmonies and incredible stage presence have made them an “overnight sensation” and their performance was stellar, showcasing their musical talent as well as their incredible chemistry with each other and their topnotch band.

I’ve seen a lot of concerts over the years, but it still amazes me how giving country artists are. Whether just starting out or already established, these men and women (and ThunderBash itself) always remind me of “lightning in a bottle,” capturing something powerful and elusive and then being able to show it to the world.