Country singer Jeff Bates opens LakeFest with free concert

Special to the Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS - Country singer Jeff Bates will kick off LakeFest on May 14 with a free concert at 7 p.m. at the DeFuniak Springs Amphitheatre. 

“Jeff Bates has an enormous following of fans including those in DeFuniak Springs,” said DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell, chair of the festival’s organizing group.  “We are very excited he could accept our invitation to open LakeFest 2021, and we expect record crowds for his performance.”

Country singer Jeff Bates kicks off LakeFest 2021 with a concert at 7 p.m. May 14  at the DeFuniak Springs Amphitheatre.

Jeff Bates signed to RCA Records in late 2002 and released his debut album Rainbow Man in May 2003, followed by his second RCA album, Leave The Light On in 2005.  Bates’s two RCA albums accounted for seven chart singles on the Billboard country charts, of which three reached the Top 40: “The Love Song,” “I Wanna Make You Cry,” and “Long, Slow Kisses.”

Bates signed with Black River Entertainment in 2003 where he released his third self-titled secular album Jeff Bates, and in 2001 his first inspirational country album One Day Closer.  The title cut was released as Bates’s first inspirational country single and landed at No. 1 on the Christian county charts.

Country singer Jeff Bates is known for hits such as “The Love Song,” “I Wanna Make You Cry,” and “Long, Slow Kisses.”

Bates has gone on to release three additional secular albums and one Christmas album, all independently, on his own label, Skydancer Entertainment.

Of those albums is one that is very special to Bates titled Me and Conway which honors Bates’s idol, the late Conway Twitty.  The album includes his own version of six Conway classics as well as six all new songs that were very carefully chosen for the tribute to the legend.  Loretta Lynn joins Bates on the Conway / Lynn classic duet, “After The Fire is Gone.”

Following Me and Conway in 2014, Bates released his Christmas album Once Upon a Star, in 2017 Troublemaker, and in 2019 he re-released his 1994 album titled Country’s My Middle Name.

Bates has entertained in all 50 states, five countries, and four continents.  Bates continues to perform more than 100 shows a year and his live performances electrify crowds worldwide. 

LakeFest 2021

LakeFest 2021, a three-day event in Chipley Park on Circle Drive in historic DeFuniak Springs, celebrates family-friendly outdoor recreational activities in the water and on the banks of Lake DeFuniak. There is no charge for parking or festival.

The festival features kids’ activities, live entertainment, free paddling activities, a car show, parade, cardboard boat races, paddling competitions, food/merchandise vendors, butterfly garden tours at the library, and free primitive tent camping on the grounds for those who sign up for various events with their kayak or bicycle or other sporting gear/equipment. 

The Friday, May 14, kick-off day features a fish fry, free concert with Jeff Bates at 7 p.m. at the DeFuniak Springs Amphitheatre and overnight primitive camping. On Saturday, May 15, the festival continues with a triathlon, historic district bike tour, nighttime disc golf and overnight camping. Sunday, May 16, will include an activity for campers who will check out by noon. 

LakeFest is hosted and orchestrated by the City of DeFuniak Springs in collaboration with numerous government agencies and nonprofit organizations. LakeFest 2021 is sponsored in part by the Beaches of South Walton. For more information, visit www.defuniaksprings.net.