Chasco Fiesta's Country Concert has got a bit of a reputation in Nashville.
"You play here, and after you play here you're on your way" in the country music industry, Chasco executive director Wendy Brenner said.
Over the years, Pasco's largest festival has lined up numerous acts on the brink of hitting it big. In 2009, Jason Michael Carroll headlined the Country Concert just before his successful album Growing Up Is Getting Old was released, and Jimmy Wayne played his chart-topping hit Do You Believe Me Now.
And last year, a couple of weeks after Luke Bryan led the Country Concert lineup, he took home the awards for top new artist and top new solo vocalist from the Academy of Country Music.
"We pick the ones on their way to the top until we get to the point we can't afford them," Brenner said. The festival even has an agent in Nashville to land up-and-coming artists, she said.
"It's a collaborative effort trying to put together what we think our audience here will accept and what's getting airplay," she said.
This year's rising stars are singer-songwriter David Nail, whose soulful Turning Home was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award for best male country vocal performance, and the high-energy LoCash Cowboys. Both acts take the stage Saturday night in Sims Park.
Nail grew up on Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Beatles records, then found himself drawn to the emotional arcs in country music. His new single, Let it Rain, was inspired by a scene in the movie The Last Kiss, about how one moment of infidelity can destroy a relationship.
"I'm a songwriter, so I'm a sensitive guy," Nail said in his website biography. "I long for the storybook life."
The LoCash Cowboys strike an emotional chord with their latest single, Keep in Mind. But the duo has drawn a loyal following with fun-hearted hits like Here Comes Summer and C.O.U.N.T.R.Y. — songs that reflect the band's philosophy that the best things in life are free or low-cash.
"We became known for just going out and having a good time," said singer Chris Lucas, who met Preston Brust at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon.
The duo has shared the stage with Charlie Daniels and ZZ Top, among other artists.
"We're like stage Marines," Brust said on the band's website. "We walk out, take one look at the audience and attack. We never let up, whether it's a 30-minute appearance or a four-hour show. The energy stays at a peak the entire time."