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Photos: Watershed makes a triumphant return to the Gorge Amphitheatre

Aug. 8, 2021 Updated Mon., Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:04 p.m.

After an unforeseen year off due to the pandemic, the Watershed Country Music Festival returned to the Gorge Amphitheatre from July 30-Aug. 1 without a hitch and with superstars Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett as headliners each of the three evenings.

I attended my first Watershed at the Gorge in 2019 – it was awesome – and here are notes from my happy return two years later for July 31’s set topped by Bentley:

• One media outlet had total attendance at 20,000, while a Watershed announcer said 25,000.

• It was forecast to be in the mid-100s, but it thankfully was overcast and stayed in the 90s with a breeze. A nearby fire the day before didn’t help matters, as the air was smoky and hazy, but it wasn’t unsafe. Bummer there was no beautiful sunset.

• The cooler weather meant less skin showing from male and female country fans than in 2019, but there were still plenty of curves, pecs and cowboy hats and boots on display.

• Parking and camping seemed more organized this year, and there were ample outhouses everywhere.

• As expected, there were Trump flags, and one truck was emblazoned with an expletive describing President Joe Biden and COVID-19. But there were Gay Pride flags, and the POC and LGBTQ+ communities were in attendance, as well.

• The daytime crowds were modest for the musicians, vendors and attractions (line dancing and foam party, anyone?), but it was very full by the time Bentley hit the stage.

• Billy Currington, who performed before Bentley, is headlining the Spokane County Interstate Fair next month with Vince Neil of Motley Crew fame.

• Ashley McBryde and Australian country singer Morgan Evans charmed the crowd with their sets before Currington and Bentley.

• McBryde, who performs at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox on Sept. 23, was thankful to have moved from the Next From Nashville tent at Watershed in 2019 to the headliner stage this year. “But I am thankful to be performing anywhere,” she said. “You’re not here because of us – we’re here because of you.”

• Will Evans attain the success of fellow Aussie Keith Urban? He certainly has the pipes and charm to do so. “You can tell from my speaking voice that I’m not from around here,” Evans quipped.

• The crowd was enthusiastic for Laine Hardy in Next to Nashville and included Breland, a talented Black country artist who is touring with Bentley on the “Beers on Us” tour.

Dee Jay Silver once again served as the DJ hype man on both stages at Watershed.

• Bentley’s rockin’ set was identical to his free and easy concert at Northern Quest Resort & Casino on July 30.

I can’t wait for Watershed to return in 2022.

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