Southern Sounds: Hampton Beach hosts a week of live country music

While 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots aren’t something you see every day in New Hampshire, the Hampton Beach Village District brings the spirit of the south to the Seacoast every summer with Country on the Coast week, this year happening Sunday, July 7, through Thursday, July 11.

That week a miscellany of country music acts will perform from 3 to 9:30 p.m. each day at the Sea Shell Stage on Hampton Beach. WOKQ radio station will be broadcasting the entire week and doing giveaways; local

Hampton restaurants Boardwalk, Purple Urchin and McGuirk’s will host and sponsor different days of the event, and headlining act William Michael Morgan, a country singer and songwriter from Mississippi whose top music video for the song “I Met a Girl” has over 17,000,000 views on YouTube, will close out the week on Thursday night. All of the music and entertainment will be provided free to the public by Hampton Beach Village District.

John Kane, the Marketing Director at Hampton Beach Village District, said the performers are well-known in the country music scene but their fame doesn’t stop them from interacting with the crowds at Hampton Beach.

“They’re all headliners; these guys are all big,” Kane said. “They’re not off-limit acts, even though they come from Nashville; they’re great to deal with. William Michael Morgan will come down and talk to everyone, have his picture taken with everyone, shake everyone’s hands. … They don’t have the attitude; they’re just down-to-earth people.”

One of the performers, whom Kane called “a great personality,” is Michelle Jackson-White, a line dance instructor who has taught in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for more than 20 years but recently relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. She will be returning to the Granite State to lead an hour-and-a-half-long line dancing instructional session each day of Country on the Coast from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It is her second year performing at the event, as she was part of last year’s inaugural Country on the Coast. Her husband, Kevin White, will also be performing at the event on Monday night from 7 to 8 p.m. and from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. as part of his Kevin White’s Tribute to Garth Brooks band.

Kane said that he didn’t expect huge crowds for Jackson-White’s country line dance sessions last year, but he was in for a surprise.

“At first we thought we’d only have a few,” he said, “and then there were like 40 people up there and they’re all really into the country line dancing.”

Jackson-White’s line dance sessions will consist of beginner-friendly dances, which she said will be different from the dances at last year’s event. No dancing partners or previous dance experience is needed. Every session has its own feel and flow, she said, because of the fresh crowd that floats in each day.

“Every single lesson was different because there were different people, so it was kind of neat, because people that were vacationing would come, but locals would come as well,” she said.

“It’s fun; the dances are really easy, and then, when we all do it together, that feeling when we all dance together [is] just nice.”

Country on the Coast has one big change this year: the start time. Each day events will begin at 3 p.m., instead of noon.

“It was a little too warm, you know,” Kane said of the noon start time last year. “If the sun hits it right on that stage, you feel it.”

According to Kane and Jackson-White, the people involved with organizing Country on the Coast strive to provide free, high-quality entertainment for all ages and a little slice of country for New Hampshire.

“The hats are there, the ladies have the boots on, they line dance, they have a good time,” Kane said.

“I feel like a lot of people under [age] 21 don’t always get to experience live music,” Jackson-White added. “Kids love music. … It’s neat that everybody of all ages can go and sit outside and get some live entertainment. It’s a great opportunity that they provided for people.”

– Caleb Jagoda



Sunday, July 7
3 p.m. – Angela West and Showdown
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-
White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Kenny Chesney Tribute

Monday, July 8
3 p.m. – Martin & Kelly
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Kevin White’s Tribute to Garth Brooks

Tuesday, July 9
3 p.m. – Maddi Ryan
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Nick Drouin

Wednesday, July 10
3 p.m. – Houston Bernard Band
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Timmy Brown
9:30 p.m. – fireworks

Thursday, July 11
3 p.m. – Kevin Herchen
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. – Old Town
8 to 9:30 p.m. – William Michael Morgan

Fired Up: Smokey Bear celebrates 75th birthday in Hampton Falls

In 1944 a mascot was created by the USDA Forest Service and Ad Council with one goal in mind: to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires and ways to be cautious and cognizant of the risks of participating in any fire-related activities. His name was Smokey Bear, and 75 years later he still lives on. To celebrate his big 75th, Smokey is going on a nationwide tour, and along the way he’s making a stop at the Hampton Falls Fire Safety Complex.

Coordinated by the Hampton Falls Free Library and the Hampton Falls Fire Department, Smokey Bear will visit the Seacoast on Tuesday, July 9, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in what Hampton Falls Fire Department’s Fire Chief

Jay Lord said is Smokey’s first visit to the area in around a decade. Over the course of his hour-long visit, Smokey will be meeting and talking pictures with visitors while a forest ranger reads to children, educates them on fire safety and gives them a “touch-a-truck” opportunity with a wildland fire engine, courtesy of the Forest Protection Bureau.

Additionally, the forest ranger will show off some equipment that the Hampton Falls Fire Department uses to fight fires, including the different types of clothes they wear.

“We’ll kind of vary it along the lines of how interested the kids are and what their age group is,” Lord said.

Hampton Falls Free Library, along with 60 other New Hampshire libraries, submitted an application to receive a visit from Smokey. It was one of six libraries in New Hampshire, selected by the New Hampshire State

Library and the New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau, to host Smokey, and the only library on the Seacoast.

The event is free and open to the public, and Hampton Falls Free Library Director Barbara Tosiano said she hopes for a big turnout and expects plenty of Boy Scouts to be in attendance. Although the event is geared for children, Tosiano said adults can attend the event with their children, or, if they don’t attend, their children can teach them a thing or two after spending an hour with Smokey Bear and the forest ranger.

“Adults are welcome to the event, but like everything else, if you educate children and you empower children, then they educate the parents,” she said. “So, if you teach children about the importance of being careful with things like campfires, matches, fireworks, etc., then the children become aware of it, and they actually educate the parents.”

Lord explained that fire safety is something everyone should be knowledgeable about, regardless of their age or home state. He said that although forest fires are much more prevalent in California and western America, they can still happen in the New England area if people aren’t careful.

“We don’t get the 100,000-acre fires they have out West, but we have a lot more moisture, so we don’t have as high as that potential,” he said. “But, you know, four or five years ago there was a 200-acre fire in Ossipee, and two years ago in the fall there was a 175-acre fire in the White Mountain National Forest. So we get them, we just don’t get the 10,000-acre fires.”

Lord also gave some tips to prevent forest fires and any fires that get out of control, saying the No. 1 thing to keep in mind is that “every fire starts small.”

“Before they start the fire, make sure the area around it is clear. There’s nothing that the fire can transmit to and get away from them,” he said. “Have a shovel, have a water source, either a bucket or a hose, and then, when they’re done, make sure that the fire is out and truly wet and cold.”

“A fire is not out until it’s wet and cold and mixed in [with] the water and the ash is all together, and then it’s truly out; don’t just leave it,” he continued. “A lot of problems start with people just leaving campfires, and then the wind comes up and blows a spark and off it goes.”

Lord and Tosiano both agreed that, despite teaching kids the facts of fire safety, people have to keep in mind that they are just that — kids — and keeping it fun while including vital information is a must for an event such as this. Thus, Smokey plays an integral role.

“I think the kids will be thrilled to touch a truck and to meet Smokey, and then they will hopefully learn a little bit about fire safety, particularly in the woods,” Tosiano said.

“[We’ll be] teaching them fire safety and kind of making it tangible for them,” Lord said. “‘Oh yeah, Smokey told me X, Y, Z,’ so they can associate it to something, especially for the little kids. Kids don’t care about facts. Kids care about ‘Oh, I need to do this because.’ It’s all education.”


— Caleb Jagoda