"We told you we were going to give you a show come hell or high water," said the announcer at the start of the first annual Wolf Trap Country Music Festival last night. Water had come, in torrents that pelted the amphitheater.

But Johnny Paycheck, saved the evening, when it came his turn.

Singer Charly McClain was long on hair, which was waist length, and short on voice. A high point of her show was a power blackout which momentarily halted the music.

T. G. Sheppard, who followed, was a better singer, with a deep, husky style that brought women to the front of the stage. Unfortunately, he ended his show with a dedication to Elvis that was hokey to the point of being down right distasteful.

The Kendells, a father/daughter duo from Nashville, offered a sluggish set that featured lackluster, lukewarm love songs.

When Paycheck appeared, the preceding acts were mostly forgotten. Paycheck has a crisp sound that draws from rock and jazz as well as down home country. Backed by The West Music Company, a tight and accomplished group, he presented music that was frisky and fast paced and had the crowd stomping and clapping hands to the beat.

The festival winds up tonight with five different country artists.