Iconic Fest stays true to its brand — presenting iconic artists

“It’s something they won’t take for granted again and we bring in some of the best legends in the business. We are so looking forward to seeing everyone again – we’ve missed our customers!” ~ Iconic Fest co-owner Carolyn Huff said after having to take a year off due to the pandemic.


2021 Iconic Fest is back and the lineup has been long anticipated since 2020, featuring Diamond Rio, Exile, John Conlee and Atlanta Rhythm Section.

The sixth annual Iconic Fest, a two-day outdoor music festival, is scheduled July 9-10 at Green Lantern, about 9 miles east of Brainerd where Highway 18 and Crow Wing County Highway 8 meet. Iconic Fest features two days of outdoor music with iconic artists and music from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s with a free beach party-themed pre-party set July 8 inside the Green Lantern.

In a news release, Iconic Fest owners Carolyn and Erik Huff said they were thrilled to be able to have the lineup exactly as originally planned for 2020. Each year a few regional artists are also invited to perform who represent music from that era as well. Those bands are Midwest Mayhem, The Farmer’s Daughters and Jesse Becker + The Neon Revival.

New this year is the additional time slot on the Saturday afternoon event. Music will begin at 3 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. so the party can get started earlier. The festival offers free parking surrounding the venue.


Exile will headline Iconic Fest at 9 p.m. Friday, July 9, 2021, at Green Lantern, east of Brainerd. Submitted Photo

The Line-Up

Friday, July 9:

  • Exile – 9 p.m.

  • Atlanta Rhythm Section – 7 p.m.

  • Midwest Mayhem – 5 p.m.

Atlanta Rhythm Section
Atlanta Rhythm Section will perform at Iconic Fest at 7 p.m. Friday, July 9, 2021, at Green Lantern, east of Brainerd. Submitted Photo

Saturday, July 10:

  • Diamond Rio – 9 p.m.

  • John Conlee – 7 p.m.

  • The Farmer’s Daughter – 5 p.m.

  • Jesse Becker + The Neon Revival – 3 p.m.

“With the comeback of live music, the ticket sales have increased because people are yearning to get out and have some fun and listen to great live music again,” Carolyn Huff said. “It’s something they won’t take for granted again and we bring in some of the best legends in the business. We are so looking forward to seeing everyone again — we’ve missed our customers!”
Gates open at 4 p.m. July 9 and 2 p.m. July 10.

Tickets are available as a “Weekend Pass” for $60, a $35 Friday Pass (July 9) or a $40 Saturday Pass (July 10). VIP and camping tickets are sold out. Ticket prices go up at the gate, so organizers encourage people to purchase tickets early. Information and tickets are available at .


Diamond Rio
Diamond Rio will headline Iconic Fest at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 10, 2021, at Green Lantern, east of Brainerd. Submitted Photo

Diamond Rio

Diamond Rio was formed in 1989 in Nashville, Tennessee, and consists of Gene Johnson on mandolin and tenor vocals; Jimmy Olander on lead guitar, acoustic guitar and banjo; Brian Prout on drums; Marty Roe on lead vocal; Dan Truman on keyboards; and Dana Williams on bass guitar and baritone vocals.

Diamond Rio recently released “I Made It,” their 10th studio album. The title track was co-written by Olander and the album features 11 new songs. Produced by Olander and Mike Clute, “I Made It” is available on iTunes and .

According to the band’s bio, Diamond Rio signed to Arista Records and in 1991 with the release of “Meet In The Middle,” became the first country music group in history to reach No. 1 with a debut single. The band is also known for their hits “How Your Love Makes Me Feel,” “One More Day,” “Beautiful Mess,” “Unbelievable,” “In A Week or Two” and more. They released their first-ever autobiography, “Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio” published by Thomas Nelson in 2009.

The band known for playing every note on every album recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. They’ve sold more than 10 million albums, won a Grammy Award, a Dove Award, six Vocal Group of the Year wins for both the Country and the American Music Associations, released two greatest hits albums, a live and Christmas project, earned five multi-week No. 1

singles, 22 Top 10 singles, three certified Platinum and five gold albums, and released an autobiography — and with zero band member changes. They’re known for their charity commitments including as longtime spokespersons for Big Brothers Big Sisters, where the band has raised more than $1 million for the nonprofit.

John Conlee
John Conlee will perform at Iconic Fest at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 10, 2021, at Green Lantern, east of Brainerd. Submitted Photo


John Conlee

John Conlee is a lot like the songs of which he sings, his bio stated. He lives a domestic life with his wife Gale and three children, Rebecca, Jessica and Johnny. During the past two decades, Conlee has achieved a level of success he has sustained by simply being himself and by making records the listening public can relate to. He is a gifted entertainer, but he’s not into the glitz and hype of the entertainment world. He’d rather spend his “off the road” time working on his 32-acre farm outside of Nashville or engaging in his woodworking and gunsmithing hobbies.

Born and raised in Kentucky farm country, Conlee grew up plowing fields, slopping hogs, harvesting grain, raising tobacco and tending cattle. He began his crusade to save the family farm system several years ago, performing a concert in Omaha, Nebraska, in June 1985 as a benefit for the National Farmers Organization.

When Willie Nelson announced his plans for the Farm Aid concerts, Conlee called and offered his services. Conlee has since been part of nine Farm Aid concerts, which have raised $13 million to aid the family farmer.

“I certainly didn’t help to organize the entertainers and the concerts for the publicity,” Conlee stated in his bio, “I wanted to help bring attention to the crisis affecting this nation’s family farms. With the help of Willie and others, we brought the family problems to the forefront and some changes began to take place.

“I’m not a radical or a rebel, but I will stand up and speak my mind on issues that I feel affect me, my family and others, and the farm crisis was, and remains, one of those issues.”

Conlee’s success began in the late ‘70s. Signed to ABC Records after working in radio for a number of years, Conlee was ready to make records rather than just sit back and spin them.

His first release, “Back Side Of Thirty” went nowhere fast. Three more singles also met with a minimum success, although they all charted. But in March of 1978, the label released “Rose Colored Glasses,” a song Conlee wrote, which became a huge hit as well as his signature song. In January of 1979, the label re-released “Back Side Of Thirty” which went on to become a No. 1 record, and the hits continued to roll. The John Conlee hit list includes songs such as “Lady Lay Down,” “Before My Time,” “Friday Night Blues,” “Miss Emily’s Picture,” “Busted,” “I Don’t Remember Loving You,” “Common Man,” “I’m Only In It For The Love,” “In My Eyes,” “As Long As I’m Rocking With You,” “Years After You,” “Domestic Life,” “Mama’s Rockin’ Chair,”

“Hit The Ground Runnin’” and “Fellow Travelers.”


Unlike many artists today, there are several aspects of Conlee’s career that have remained constant. His career has been managed from the beginning by Dave Roberts and all his records have been produced by Bud Logan. In the entertainment world where artists change managers, agents and producers almost as often as they change their socks, Conlee has not tampered with success, his bio stated.

Overall, there have been 29 single releases throughout the years with 26 of them charting in the Top 20 or better. Eight of those 26 have reached the coveted No. 1 spot on the national country charts.

His record tenure, beginning at ABC Records, brought him to MCA Records when the two labels merged. John also recorded for Columbia Records where he scored four hit singles before signing with Nashville’s 16th Avenue Records, a division of the Opryland Music Group. This was something of a homecoming for Conlee, who has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1981.

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