|Russell Edwards has a love for music and plans|
to share it with others in September.
A music lover with connections to some country artists, Edwards has jumped into the backwoods concert business and will host what he hopes is a 5,000-fan event in September on his farm between Marion and Providence a seasonal hunting preserve that’s home to his Winghaven Lodge.
Edwards is always thinking big, and that’s why community leaders are not surprised he’s dreamed up a star-studded, two-day country festival that will include David Lee Murphy, Confederate Railroad, Pure Prairie League, the Kentucky Headhunters and more.
Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle” and “Party Crowd” are some of country music’s biggest hits and his songwriting credits are numerous. He’s written hits for Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Hank Williams Jr., just to name a few.
Other entertainers scheduled are Jack Ingram; Merle’s son, Ben Haggard; and the Strangers and regional artists Alonzo Pennington and Chris Knight.
“It’s kind of a cross-genre lineup,” said Edwards. “Jack Ingram is kind of a John Prine ballad type guy, Confederate Railroad is a great party band and will get the crowd fired up and the Kentucky Headhunters are great; they’ve been doing concerts for over 40 years.”
Edwards has created a natural amphitheater in the middle of about 40 acres of rolling Kentucky countryside that serves as a backdrop for a weekend of live entertainment Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16. There will be primitive camping available and tickets start at $35 a night or $65 for both days. It’s a great value, Edwards said.
“Where can you go see this many good bands for that price?” he asks.
Edwards is an entrepreneur who started a hunting guide service several years ago then morphed it into an upland game preserve that caters to corporate clients. His rustic lodge is a site to see, and he thinks the hospitality skills he’s developed in the outdoors business make this transition to music quite natural.
“This is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” he says. “I have a love for music (he plays the guitar), and it’s a challenge to see whether it can be done or not.”
Edwards said backwoods concerts are common across the country, but few thrive and most are unable to even survive. Poor management is the biggest problem, he suspects.
“This is like any other venture. If you’re underfunded or lack a good business plan then you’re treading on thin ice,” he explains.
In order to be ahead of the curve, Edwards has engaged the Kentucky Headhunters’ Richard Young as a concert mentor; he’s hired Helix Creative Studio to manage the social media networking and marketing; hired a ticket office manager; and will soon travel for a time with the Headhunters to do homework on how to produce a high-end concert.
If the concert draws enough people, Edwards plans on making a huge donation to Marion-Crittenden County Park, and he says other booster groups and community organizations can earn money by helping at the gate, parking cars and cleaning up trash afterwards.
Edwards said the park will get $10,000 if 5,000 people show up for the festival. He thinks that’s possible because it will appeal to fans from about a 10-county area, plus larger markets like Paducah, Evansville and Owensboro are on the marketing map.