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September 27th, 2023

casi joy high plains music festCasi Joy rocks out to a song at the 2020 High Plains Music Fest. Joy will be returning to this year’s event in a lineup also including Exit West, Cooper Hamilton and Clare Dunn. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Those looking for some good music soon will only have to travel to Hugoton thanks to the High Plains Music Fest. This year’s High Plains Music Fest fun is scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 9 at Dirtona Raceway in Hugoton. 

Casi Joy is one of the artists returning for the event’s 10th iteration, and she said she is excited to be making her way back to Hugoton. 

“I'm so excited to be back! We played the High Plains Music Fest back in 2020 during the throes of the pandemic, so it's going to be really exciting to come back and see the event at full capacity without restrictions or any of that,” Joy said. “And of course, it'll be great to play music for everyone who comes out. It's going to be a great lineup, it's me, Exit West, Cooper Hamilton and Clare Dunn, so there's going to be a lot of energy and so many shenanigans on stage as the evening goes on. I love the Hugoton community, those are definitely our people and we always have such a blast before, during and after the show hanging out with everyone and taking it all in.”

Since performing in Hugoton in 2020, Joy said she has been keeping plenty busy. 

“Things have been really busy, so especially the past few years, everything's started to kind of blur together,” Joy said with a laugh. “But we were there in 2020, we'd had plans to be there for a certain amount of time before going back on the road to my next gig in Missouri, and I thought it would take maybe a few hours, but it turned out to be almost a full night's drive on the road. But we're excited to be back nonetheless and I can't wait to see everyone. I'm also definitely looking forward to some good food – the last time we were there, there was some BOMB barbecue we munched on, and that's coming from someone who grew up near Kansas City. So we're excited to stuff our faces and get the Joy Ride out, so to speak”

Overall, Joy said, people can expect a lot of energy from her and her set at this year’s High Plains Music Fest. 

“I always tell people, they can expect the unexpected from my shows. I always make a set list and make it cute and print it out and everything, but do we follow it? Typically not,” Joy said with a chuckle. “There will be several songs from my newest album, 'Miles & Maybes' as well as songs I performed on 'The Voice,' some other covers, and much more. And if I'm picking up from the crowd they're more interested in hearing something more upbeat when we're prepared to do a ballad, we'll go ahead and switch gears.”

Joy added she is excited to be touring like normal again and doing live shows again. 

“It's been great. Gratitude is truly the best word that comes to my mind because you don't know how much you love something until it's gone. As musicians, and the fans, we all fought for so long to get things back to normal, and now that everyone's back, we've realized we can't take for granted the chances for live music and live performances,” Joy said. “It moves people and it's so, so important, so I'm extremely grateful to be back and not have any restrictions or being on the edge waiting to hear if we're actually going to be performing or not. It feels a little odd NOT being on eggshells in that regard, but it's great how everything's getting back to how it was before. After the High Plains Music fest, I'll be doing a show in my hometown of Smithville, Mo., which will be later this month and I'm really excited about. Then, I've got some shows in Minnesota, Nashville and some other places, and we're constantly updating the tour schedule so people know we're coming to them.”

Joy said she is excited to be able to share music with audiences, which she said is always a fun time with her band. 

“The touring never stops, we don't have a tour like other artists where we go on a circuit and then take a break, we tour forever and ever. The stage is my favorite place to be, I don't feel right if I'm not performing. But after we finish touring this album, we're going to keep going and there will be more new music coming in the future,” Joy said. “It feels great getting the band back together and out on the road again – during the pandemic, I did so many solo shows because we couldn't have very many people around, so I played by myself a lot. It feels great getting the 'Joy Boys' back together and we have so much fun with the shows and we have that great friendship and so many inside jokes. We've been playing together for six or seven years, so we know each other pretty well and we can make it work onstage.”

Joy said she hopes to see a great turnout for this year’s High Plains Music Fest. 

“It's going to be a great, family-friendly show, so people should definitely bring the children out – I always say, the more the merrier!” Joy said. “Having a bunch of kids around also makes me feel better about my own crazy dance skills and it's so much fun seeing them have fun of their own. And if people want, they can stream any of my albums online, I'll also have a merchandise table there that evening, and people can also take a look at my Web site, I'm also on social media, so people can also find me there.”