There were some tired eyes and sunburned faces by the time day three of Country Thunder kicked off.

But that didn’t mean people weren’t about to keep the good times rolling.

And country superstars Craig Morgan and Miranda Lambert made sure of that.

Returning for the second time since Country Thunder’s initiation in 2009, Morgan jammed out a number of familiar hit singles, including his latest, “Wake Up Loving You.”

Morgan caught up with The Explorer before heading to Florence for the festival that has continued to grow each year, this year selling more than 200,000 tickets.

Asked why he decided to come back again, Morgan’s answer was simple. 

“Fans and money,” he said in an interview with The Explorer before the concert.

“If somebody wants to pay us and the fans want to see us, we’re there. As long as that happens, I’ll keep doing it.”

Morgan, who packed the house for his 7 p.m. time slot, pumped out hit after hit, everything from “Redneck Yacht Club,” to “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” to “International Harvester.”

His latest hit single, “Wake Up Loving You,” sent the crowd into chaos.

The song follows the journey of a man who can’t seem to get over his ex.

“It’s a heartache song,” Morgan said. “That’s what it’s about, but the greatest part about this song is you don’t have to have had heartache, or been in the situation that the guy in the song has been in to enjoy the song. There’s something about the melody and the lyrics that make you feel compassion for him, and that’s a rare jewel to find.”

Another of those rare jewels is Miranda Lambert, who, like Morgan, couldn’t help return for another year of fun.

It took a moment for the thunderous applause and screaming to stop before Lambert could get started, but when she did, she did it well, playing some of her fan favorites like “Gun Powder and Lead,” “Oklahoma Sky,” and “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

Lambert was recently named Female Vocalist of The Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, an award she has now won five times in a row. 

Lambert, the wife of Blake Shelton, also won Single Record of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

“I still get butterflies seeing my name show up in the nominations,” Lambert told The Explorer when asked if she ever becomes numb to the fame. “I hope that never goes away. It’s very special for your peers to think that the work you have done that year is worth recognizing. I was definitely excited to see my name in Entertainer of The Year category this year. That alone is a huge honor.”

For continuing coverage of Country Thunder, visit

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