Wildfire headlines Dowagiac festival

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nominated for Detroit Music Awards “Best Country Band” and “Best Country Recording,” Wildfire returns to downtown Dowagiac  July 27 for Summer in the City, where it rocked the Beckwith Park last July with some of the best country jams.

The three-day festival, which also features “Sizzlin’ Hot Sidewalk Days,” will be staged in the central business district July 26-28. Presented by the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, Summer in the City features 78 hours of vocal and instrumental entertainment and dance, an array of family events and the acclaimed Steve’s Run of Southwestern Michigan College.

Vickie Phillipson, program director for the Chamber of Commerce and DDA, said she is  pleased to feature Wildfire on July 27 for its day-long concert from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Haggin-Wimberley Memorial Bandstand. This professional Top 40 Country act, which has opened for national artists, returns the same evening for an encore performance from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

With Southern-style country, WildFire was a Detroit Music Award nominee for Best Country Recording in 2008. From Linden,  the band has been paired with some of the most-notable bands in the state and some of Nashville’s A-list headliners. The band’s repertoire spans music favorites from the 1950s through today’s hits.

Rhythm guitar and lead vocalist Ken Pool’s music background began at age 6, when his father showed him how to play honky-tonk on an old 1930 Gibson flat top.

From that, the self-proclaimed child of music launched his first band in 1978, called Pegasus. Pool said he loves to play and that it shows in his music.

Fellow musicians call “Wild Bill” McAlbern, who is also the historian of the group, their lost Oakridge boy. McAbern’s popularity with his audience is second only to his steel playing, which spans more than 20 years.

Drummer Tommy Green brings diverse talents to Wildfire with his major influences found in both Christian and rock music.

On bass, Ken Pifher’s talents are said to bring a contemporary feel with an edgy twist. Music critics say Pifherflirts with the boundaries of his music, redefining them again and again, as he works the crowd.

With more than 30 years of experience under his belt, lead guitarist Rick Gilbert’s roots are blues and rock.

While country music is new to his style, “outlaw country” is not. Music critics say Gilbert’s not your average lead man.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.DowagiacChamber.com.