Country Music’s Hottest Festival Breaks Records
By Addie Strickland | Photos Courtesy of Gulf Coast Jam
Gulf Coast Jam is a country music fan’s dream. The four-day event exudes the ethos of “a damn good time.” For those in the Florida Panhandle, it’s a world-class music fest right in your backyard, while others view it as an opportunity for a much-needed beach vacation. From the crowd of thousands enjoying all the top country hits to the vendors who offer beloved food and drinks from local restaurants and more, Gulf Coast Jam is right up there with the best festivals in the US. Camaraderie and American pride also take center stage here, with the festival’s organizers extending a deep appreciation for members of the military and first responders. There’s nothing more uniting than a crowd cheering as “The Star-Spangled Banner” is being played and a team of fighter jets flies overhead. It’s a weekend full of the best country music artists, with the audience singing along at the top of their lungs and spending time with family and friends.
The 2023 Gulf Coast Coast Jam, presented by Jim Beam, had a record-setting attendance of thirty-thousand country music fans showing up to hear headliners Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, HARDY, and over twenty other artists perform. The originally scheduled superstar, Morgan Wallen, was forced to cancel after a vocal cord injury, but the show went on with Kenny Chesney taking his place. The executive producer of Gulf Coast Jam, Rendy Lovelady, says, “Everything came together for the record attendance, four absolutely wonderful days of music. Our Jammers came from all fifty states and fourteen foreign countries!”
Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach opened up Thursday night and was rocked by HARDY, Breland, Dylan Marlowe, Them Dirty Roses, and Jonboy Storey. That night, Lovelady and Gulf Coast Jam COO Mark Sheldon took the stage and shared with the sold-out audience the exciting news that ACM Male Artist of the Year Morgan Wallen had been confirmed as the headliner for the 2024 festival. This news comes with much excitement and anticipation, as Wallen is the only artist in Billboard 200 history to have two albums spend their first ten weeks at number one. This excitement set the tone for the rest of that great weekend.
Friday night rolled out with a roar from the crowd as audio from Chris Stapleton’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played, and a team of fighter jets from Eglin Air Force Base flew over and wowed the crowd. There’s nothing like good ’ol American pride to kick off a night of country music! Miranda Lambert was the headliner for that night, and she delighted fans with ninety minutes of hits, preceded by performances from Justin Moore, Warren Zeiders, Shane Profitt, and DOZZI.
Carrying the immense energy into Saturday night, Lily Rose debuted at the festival, followed by a strong set from Bailey Zimmerman. But the night was just getting started—Chase Rice and Ernest opened for headliner Kenny Chesney and his I Go Back 2023 Tour. The crowd was in overdrive throughout Chensey’s performance as he rocked hit after hit. Rice and Ernest joined Chesney onstage to perform a trio of his six-week number-one Uncle Kracker duet, “When the Sun Goes Down.”
The final night of the 2023 Gulf Coast Jam was met with much excitement. Stellar performances by Dylan Scott, Seaforth, and the third of three Jim Beam Welcome Sessions winners encouraged the crowd after an unexpected torrential rain canceled MacKenzie Porter’s set. Gabby Barrett took the stage with her singer-songwriter husband, Cade Foehner, to sing some of her top hits and favorite hymnals. Kane Brown, who performed an opening act at Gulf Coast Jam in 2017, returned as the final in-demand headliner of the 2023 weekend. With his beautiful wife, Katelyn Brown, the duo rocked the crowd as they sang their number-one single, “Thank God.”
The Gulf Coast Jam, presented by Jim Beam, is listed by Billboard as one of The 10 Best Country Music Festivals. Everyone involved, from the artists and the organizers to the honored military and first responders, made the event memorable and enjoyable for every attendee. We can’t wait for next year!
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Passes for the 2024 Gulf Coast Jam presented by Jim Beam are on sale at GulfCoastJam.com. Super VIP, Side Stage, and Platinum Parking are already sold out! Jammers are encouraged to follow Gulf Coast Jam on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for special announcements.