One of the highlights of every summer in Wisconsin is the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Air Venture, taking place July 20 through July 26th in Oshkosh’s Wittman Field.
The event attracts pilots, planes and aviation enthusiasts from all over the globe, many of them taking up residence in the EAA campgrounds for the week.
The daily air shows and the Monday opening night concert at EAA AirVenture are just a couple of a variety of family attractions and entertainment that are part of the week-long event. These added activities, ranging from night air shows to entertainment, are nearly all included with EAA AirVenture admission. They are in addition to the hundreds of aviation forums and workshops, special presentations, and aviation exhibits available at Oshkosh.
Perhaps not as well-known is that EAA’s music offerings alone are worth the price of admission and local fans are encouraged to set up camp and make it a “staycation.”
“Camping at EAA allows ones to immerse oneself in the entire culture,” said EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski. “It’s not just what happens during the day, the scheduled events, but meeting the aviators from around the world, making new friends, seeing old friends. That family reunion aspect is a big part of it. We encourage people to experience the whole event either as part of drive-in camping or as one of the many people who camp next to their planes.”
If you’re camping, you won’t have to drive home after the traditional big concert opening.
Dierks Bentley, who has rocketed to the top tier of country music’s hit-makers, will get EAA AirVenture week off to a great start when he headlines the fly-in’s popular opening night concert on Monday, July 20. The concert, presented by Ford Motor Company with additional support from Cirrus Aircraft, is free to all EAA AirVenture attendees that day and will be held on Boeing Plaza following the afternoon air show.
“Dierks Bentley is a superb choice for our opening night concert not only because he is one of music’s brightest stars, but also because he is an avid pilot who has been to Oshkosh before enjoying the sights and sounds as an aviation enthusiast,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs. “Dierks brings the energy and enthusiasm that complements the full week of aviation excitement that will be featured at EAA AirVenture.”
Ford Motor Company is also very happy to have Bentley on the stage.
“Ford is proud to be the exclusive automotive partner with EAA for 15 years and pleased to enhance the experience for everyone attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh,” said Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors. “Since 2006 we’ve helped bring some of the biggest names in music history to the stage at Oshkosh to kick off aviation’s annual reunion, and we’re eager to have Dierks Bentley join that roster for the opening night concert.”
Bentley, an ACM top male performer nominee, is seven albums into one of country music’s most respected and most unpredictable careers. His latest evolution comes in the form of his critically acclaimed and No. 1 selling album RISER, which has already spawned two consecutive No. 1 hits with I Hold On and Drunk On A Plane. His latest single Say You Do is now climbing the Top 10 charts.
Bentley’s six previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies, notched 12 chart-topping singles, and earned 12 Grammy nominations. Additionally, Bentley is the most nominated male artist for the ACM Awards with seven nominations including Single Record of the Year for Drunk On A Plane, Vocal Event of the Year for The South, Video of the Year for Drunk On A Plane, Song of the Year for I Hold On, Album of the Year for RISER, and Male Vocalist of the Year.
In addition to Bentley, EAA welcomes four bands ranging from local to international fame—the Little River Band, I’m Not a Pilot, The Presidents, and Hotel California “A Salute to the Eagles”—to its main stage evening lineup for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015.
The Little River Band, presented by Quest Aircraft, is scheduled to perform Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Australian rock band, which became popular in the U.S. during the 1970’s and ‘80’s, has sold more than 30 million albums and CDs since its formation. Their most popular hits in America include “Help Is on Its Way,” “Happy Anniversary,” “Reminiscing,” “Lady,” “Cool Change,” and “Lonesome Loser.”
Performing Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is I’m Not A Pilot, one of the fastest-rising indie rock bands from Milwaukee and winner of the Best Rock Band award by Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express Weekly in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
The Presidents will perform Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., presented by American Airlines. The band formed in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley – Michael Underwood, drums, Dave Jerabek, bass, John Cary, lead guitar and Devin Muncin handling the lead vocals as well as keyboards and guitars – is one of the most requested party bands in the state. They will bring the party to EAA.
“It’s pretty simple. Planes are cool,” Underwood said. “There is nothing like playing or listening to music with fighter planes flying around your head.”
The Lt. Dan Band, led by actor and veterans’ activist Gary Sinise, will perform on Friday to cap EAA’s Salute to Veterans Day, then AirVenture wraps on Saturday night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. with Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles, presented by Ford Motor Company. Hotel California is internationally recognized for its reproduction of Eagles hits such as “Take It Easy,” “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” and the song that inspired the band’s name, “Hotel California.”
Those who have been to EAA previously or have an “inside source” will also be on the lookout for impromptu performances by The Flying Music Association, and group of aviation enthusiasts and pilots who play as well as they fly.