ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
September is rapidly approaching, which means it will soon be time for the annual High Plains Music Fest at Hugoton’s Dirtona Raceway. This year’s fun is scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 9.
This year’s headliner, Clare Dunn, is no stranger to either Hugoton or the High Plains Music Fest, and she said she is excited to be back.
“I'm really honored and really excited because I love playing in that area. I'm not from Hugoton originally, but I hauled a lot of wheat and cattle and other stuff into Hugoton growing up and working my way through college, so Hugoton's really special to me,” Dunn said. “Anytime I get to headline an event like this near Hugoton, it's really special to me and a big honor. We're going to be sharing all my new music and all the new singles, and we'll also be playing some of my hits and some great covers, so there'll be a little bit of something for everyone. I'm excited about sharing the new music, I think people will really like it. The show's gotten bigger and better throughout the years, so I'm excited to see people's response to the music and being back in the area.”
Since her last performance, Dunn said there is a lot that has happened, and there are no plans to slow down.
“We've worked on a lot of new music since then, including my newest album, and we're currently working on a covers project, which I'm really excited about,” Dunn said. “That's shaping out to be really good and people have been asking for years 'When are we going to hear YOUR version of Tina Turner/Led Zeppelin, etc.?' and I was never able to go in and cut those songs until now, and people will be able to get those songs before too long. Our show is very high-energy and very much rock-n-roll show. We play everything from Waylon Jennings and Dwight Yoakam to Tina Turner and Led Zeppelin, so there's something to fit everyone's taste and no one will be bored. It'll be a fun set. Also, growing up a farm girl from that area, people will be spending money on an artist who knows the area and who is just as in love with that way of life as anyone else in the audience. It's good music and there'll be something that will appeal to everyone.”
Dunn said she is also happy to be touring like normal again given the events of the past couple years and their effect on live performances.
“For me, everything's been in full swing since the beginning of 2022 and we've really been back at it. This year has been the second year where we're in full throttle, and it feels great,” Dunn said. “We're resilient people and people are starting to come back out to shows and have a great time, and we want to be part of helping with that.”
For this year’s festivities, Dunn said she is also excited about the lineup scheduled.
“I think it's going to be a great night with a lot of great music, and people are definitely going to get their money's worth. The lineup includes me, Casi Joy, Cooper Hamilton and Exit West, so I know there's going to be a lot of great energy on the stage for that night,” Dunn said. “I'm excited to hear everyone play before me – I won't necessarily be in the audience because of the meet-and-greet stuff I'll be doing, but if I can snatch a few songs here and there from backstage, that'll be great and I can't help but listen to what's going on.”
Being from near the area, Dunn said she is always happy to perform in Hugoton.
“It makes me feel really good because I grew up around Hugoton and I have a lot of fond memories of working hard and hauling crops and/or cattle into town, and all of that work was going toward being able to play music,” Dunn said. “So whenever I get to come back and perform and live out my dream, there's no better feeling than that. Being back and being grateful for the chance to live out what I always wanted to do, it's just an amazing feeling. It's great to be back around agriculture, everyone who lives in this part of the world is truly the salt of the Earth and it's great being around those types of people. I'm excited to be part of the High Plains Music Fest lineup for this year, I think people are going to have a fantastic time. If people want to psych themselves up for my particular set, they can find me on social media, my handle is @claredunnmusic on every platform, and I'm on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and everywhere else. I love being able to travel all throughout the U.S. and perform in all the big cities, but there's nothing like coming back to Hugoton and playing at Dirtona Raceway and being in this area of the world.”