CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A little rain never hurt anybody. For the final evening of live music at the 2023 Charleston Sternwheel Regatta, thousands of people flooded Kanawha Boulevard ready to see and hear two country music performers, one an up-and-coming country music singer, and another a longtime star in the industry.
Thankfully, the weather wasn’t bad enough like it was Sunday evening to force Kate Boytek or Jo Dee Messina off the stage.
Boytek, a Logan, West Virginia native, fresh off the release of her new single, “Anywhere” from just a few months ago, got on stage in front of what she said was the largest crowd she ever performed live for. It didn’t appear anyone in the crowd Monday evening on Kanawha Boulevard or seated at Haddad Riverfront Park could tell.
Boytek began her set at 6:30, covering well-known country music songs and also playing some of her own written songs under mostly sunny skies. It wasn’t until Jo Dee Messina hit the stage that rain and some wind began to roll in.
The good news is, the show went on. For a brief 15 minute period, a mixture of light rain with some occasional slightly heavier batches came falling down, but that didn’t stop country music fans from sticking around and Messina from performing on stage.
A big country music fan himself, Shannon Workman said he won a contest online to get to introduce Messina to the stage.
“When I had to introduce her, I got a little star struck,” he admitted.
Workman said he’s a country music fan in general and has been ever since Messina came on to the scene when he was around 11-12 years old.
“She was a big part of the surge in women in country music in the 90’s,” Workman said. “I grew up on Messina.”
Workman, like many others, just had to be at the Regatta Monday evening to hear Messina and catch an ear at the up-and-coming Boytek. He calls the Regatta a perfect festival to hold on the Fourth of July weekend.
“A lot of people are traveling into the state because there are so many people living out of West Virginia that want to come home to family, so why not come to the Regatta,” said Workman. “It’s something to bring the kids to and the whole family.”
Workman said he was in Charleston in 2022 when the Regatta made its return. So too was Johnna Dixon. In fact, Dixon said she remembers the Regatta from way back in the 80’s and 90’s
“I’m from the old school when the Regatta brought people in from Canada to see Charlie Daniels and Alabama,” Dixon said, who added that she thinks this year’s musical lineup was just as good as last year’s.
Dixon made sure she had a seat in the house to hear Messina perform one of her personal favorite songs, “Bring on the Rain.”
Tuesday, July 4th marks the last day of the 2023 Charleston Sternwheel Regatta. An ensemble of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform.