SASSER, Ga. -- When Dee West first talked about holding concerts at the Sasser Flea Market here, people in the area laughed. No self-respecting artist is going to come to Sasser to play music adjacent to a flea market, they reasoned.
Don't expect booking agents to return your calls, West was told.
It's West, though, who is enjoying the last laugh, as her remarkable little venue has attracted a number of musical legends as well as some rising stars in the industry. And, about those booking agents?
Well, they're calling West now.
And the names are getting bigger and bigger.
"I'm trying to get what people want here," West said. "The younger folks, who are the ones who will get out and go to a show, want to see the younger acts, so I'm making an effort to get what they want."
Kicking off the Sasser venue's summer season is rising country star Joe Nichols, who is scheduled to appear May 29.
"We're trying something new this summer, scheduling some Sunday shows," West said. "With some of these acts, a Sunday's about the only date they have open. When I found out Joe was willing to come here and play, I was definitely willing to try a Sunday show."
Also scheduled for shows at the Sasser Flea Market are young country artists the Locash Cowboys on June 10, Craig Morgan on July 3 and Jake Owen on Oct. 29.
"We've had a lot of interest in some of the young country acts; in fact, these shows have generated more interest than any of the acts we've had before," West said. "We're planning to get one more big show in August and one in September, and we'll probably add some other shows in there, too."
Local artists Cole Taylor and Landis Frier, who was recently signed by BMI and has made a move to Nashville in pursuit of a country music dream much like fellow Southwest Georgia artists Luke Bryan, the Lost Trailers and Dallas Davidson, will open for Nichols on the 29th. That show kicks off at 2:30 p.m.
Frier and his band will also join Rin Palmer of Morgan at the June 10 Locash Cowboys show. The Worth County native, who was discovered by songwriting great Bobby Pinson, has been drawn into the whirlwind of the country music fast track, according to his "momagent" Leslie Hanks.
"Bobby Pinson saw something and heard something in Landis that he liked," Hanks said. "(Former Atlanta Brave) Ryan Klesko talked (Pinson) into watching Landis do an acoustic show at One Trick Pony (in Albany), and (Pinson) asked him afterward 'How soon can you move to Nashville?'
"Landis hasn't really gotten caught up in everything that's going on around him, but when he calls me and tells me about who he's doing stuff with I am just blown away."
West, meanwhile, said she loves giving young artists like Frier and Taylor opportunities to play with more established artists. And she also notes that each show has a large positive economic impact on the surrounding area.
"The folks at the (Albany) Convention and Visitors Bureau told me today that every man, woman and child who comes to one of our shows spends an average of $55 per person, and that doesn't include the cost of the ticket," she said. "And the people who spend the night spend an average of $103 per person.
"We can accommodate up to 5,000 people at our place, so that's a huge impact on the region."
Tickets for the Nichols, Morgan and Owen shows are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. A dollar from each ticket sold for the Nichols concert will be donated to the Butterfly Kisses Special Needs Play Park in Leesburg.
Tickets for the Locash Cowboys show will be $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show.
Children 12-under will be allowed to enter each show at no cost, and the Sasser site has a limited number of RV and tent sites available.
Food vendors will also be on site at each of the shows.