Unbridled Country Rock and Patriotism at the CMSF

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PASO ROBLES — American country music duo Big & Rich performed on the Chumash Grandstand Arena at the California Mid-State Fair on Friday, Jul. 24.

Local Artist Callie Twisselman opened for Big & Rich and pumped up the crowd with a heartfelt set, including songs from her new debut EP entitled Closure. The local singer, songwriter, and musician grew up on a seventh-generation grain and cattle ranch outside of Shandon and lists country legends Dolly Parton and George Strait among her influences.

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“It felt like a dream opening for Big & Rich,” Twisselman said after the show. “They are such nice guys, and they put on an amazing show. It felt amazing to play a live show in general after this last year we had, but it was extra special that it was in my hometown!”

D.J. Sinister spun a “country-fried mix” to keep the crowd moving between the opening and headlining acts before introducing and performing alongside Big & Rich.


The performance consisted of a mix of country-rock, throwback medleys, and showstopping patriotism. The crowd was led in a chorus of God Bless America, and at one point, active duty service members were brought on stage, and each spoke to the crowd on why they decided to join the U.S. Military. The service members remained on stage for the rest of the show at their own V.I.P. table stocked with Redneck Riviera Whiskey.

Special guest Cowboy Troy joined the performance during Big & Rich’s set. The trio performed a marathon medley of country, rap, and throwbacks from decades past. Finally, Big & Rich capped off the night with their smash hit Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) from 2004’s triple-platinum album Horse of a Different Color.

Local Artist Callie Twisselman 

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Cholame native Callie Twisselman opened for Big and Rich at the California Mid State Fair Grandstand arena on Friday, July 24.

Twisselman was joined by family backstage cheering her on, “It was a family affair backstage.”

Growing up on her family’s seventh-generation grain and cattle ranch in Cholame, Twisselman was surrounded by family–something she is grateful for.

This is Twisselman’s second time opening for a big act on the Grandstand Arena. A few years ago, she opened for Florida Georgia Line at the Mid-State Fair.

Because of COVID, many of Twisselman’s live shows were canceled, so being back on stage was more than exciting for her and the band.

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“I didn’t get nervous. It was more exciting than anything because we haven’t played a live show in a while in general, but then that one is an even bigger live show than normal. It was fun.”

Twisselman explained getting back together with the band was just like riding a bike.

Pulling up backstage and setting up for the concert was surreal for Twisselman. Luckily she had her family there with her every step of the way.

After her set, Big Kenny of Big and Rich spoke with Twisselman, “He came up to me and found me and said you ‘rocked it!'”

Twisselman said she is looking forward to booking more live shows when she is back in Nashville, along with starting some new projects. The singer hinted that she might be collaborating with another artist soon. 

Keep up to date on Twisselman’s musical endeavors by following her @callietwiss and visiting callietwisselman.com.