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KKAT SPONSORS COUNTRY MUSIC FEST SATURDAY

Salt Lake City has its jazz festivals and folk festivals, blues and bluegrass festivals. Now KKAT Radio feels it's time we got a good look at country music in the Kat Country Summer Music Festival.

On June 22 at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park (2200 W. 10800 South), local listeners will get a full day of song and dance.And it's all for free.

Tickets are everywhere - 60,000 of them last count. For information on getting a few, call 533-0102.

"In the last Arbitron ratings we got an 11 to 1 share," says station general manager Dana Horner. "That's makes us number one. This festival is our way of paying the listeners back for staying with us."

The festival is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (parking will be available only after 9 a.m. - so don't show too early). The West One Jazz Band and boys from KKAT themselves will fill the morning with music. Starting at noon the hardcore, big-time acts begin taking the stage.

Watch for Aaron Tippin ("You've Got to Stand for Something"), The Desert Rose Band ("He's Back and I'm Blue"), Carlene Carter, McBride & the Ride, Collin Raye and the headliners of the event, Shenandoah - country music's top rated band.

Mike McGuire is the band's drummer. He took a few moments recently to talk about Salt Lake City, singing and that down-home Shenandoah appeal.

"We've been to Salt Lake City twice now," he says, "I remember playing there back in the `van days,' before we'd made it. Our song had just made the top 10 and we wanted to go out to dinner and celebrate, but our accountant said we didn't have enough money. We told him to get lost and went out and chowed down at some Japanese restaurant there anyway. It was great.

"Another thing, being a single guy, one thing I do remember is you all have the prettiest girls in the country out there. And I'd swear that on the Bible."

In an era when young, high-energy bands are a dime a dozen, Shenandoah stands out because it does things the old-fashioned way - by appealing to tradition and roots.

"Marty Raybon - our lead singer - and I were both raised in the same bluegrass community," says McGuire, "so we try to find songs that have that down-home feel: `Sunday in the South,' `Mama Knows,' `Next to Me, Next to You.' We don't try to put on something we're not. I mean when I go home for Christmas we sit around a sing bluegrass songs. Everybody in my family plays something."

Along with a full day's feed on country music, the festival will also feature dozens of food concessions, a dancing area, a children's play area, exhibition booths and an autograph booth.

There will be no beer sold. According to Chris York at KKAT, "We're really trying to make this a great way to have fun for the entire family."