It's time to Throwdown

From left, Sam Shugart conducts Friday’s news conference at Threeforty Creative Group with Justin Andrews and Bo Henry announcing who will be performing at the Georgia Throwdown scheduled Oct. 12-14 at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

From left, Sam Shugart conducts Friday’s news conference at Threeforty Creative Group with Justin Andrews and Bo Henry announcing who will be performing at the Georgia Throwdown scheduled Oct. 12-14 at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

— Negotiations with major "national headliners" are still ongoing, but Sam Shugart knew it was time to "let the people know we are going to do this."

So Friday afternoon Shugart and members of his core team announced the first group of performers signed to play at the SOWEGA Music and Arts Festival Georgia Throwdown at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds Oct. 12-14.

Heading the initial list of performers are alternative/Southern rock favorites Drive-By Truckers, touring in support of their 11th album, "Go-Go Boots," and perhaps the hottest one-two songwriting team in Nashville: Albany's Dallas Davidson and Valdosta's Rhett Akins, who perform together as the Peach Pickers. The pair are reigning co-BMI Country Songwriters of the Year.

Also joining those stars on the bill are Georgia-born artists Corey Smith, Colt Ford and Easton Corbin, as well as Southern jam band favorite Col. Bruce Hampton.

"Hiring national acts the likes of ZZ Top or Lynyrd Skynyrd is complicated," Shugart said. "We went after those acts hard — put a lot of time and effort into negotiations — but things just didn't work out. Still, some people are starting to get a little antsy and question us a little bit, so we wanted to go ahead and release the names of bands that we've booked, that we've got contracts in hand.


Dallas Davidson, country songwriter and an Albany native, will be assisting in the Southwest Georgia Music & Arts Festival in Albany slated for Oct. 12-14.

"We plan to sign 100 bands for the three days, so this list of about 20 bands is just the first. We'll lock down several more headline-type bands in the next few days and get their names out there, too."

Also booked to perform at the Throwdown are local and regional acts Cole Taylor, Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers, Another Alien Astronaut, the Evergreen Family Band, the Bo Henry Band, Relapse, the Marty Evans Band, Rhyal Knight, the Tony Brooks Band, Caylee Anna and the J Blues Band.

Shugart also announced ticket prices for the festival: $45 for individual day passes and $85 for weekend passes purchased online at either www.ticketalternative.com or at www.georgiathrowdown.com.

"The folks in Nashville told us we were crazy, that this was a $150-a-ticket festival already," Shugart said. "They said we were going to be leaving money on the table. But this is not about trying to squeeze every dime we can.

"We're in the middle of a recession, and as a small businessperson I know what that's like. Obviously we have to recoup a lot of money we're putting out to bring these artists here, but we feel that we'll be able to do that even putting on the show at half its market value. The key for us this year is to prove ourselves."

Formed in 1996 by group mainstays Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, Drive-By Truckers are being equally embraced by fans of the Grateful Dead and classic Southern rockers like Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. Their most acclaimed works are 2001's "Southern Rock Opera" and 2004's "The Dirty South," while 2008's "Brighter Than Creation's Dark" was their highest-charting work.


Corey Smith

"Go-Go Boots" is drawing rave reviews from critics for capturing the spirit of the Truckers' live show, which is one of the most acclaimed in music today.

Davidson and Akins — the Peach Pickers minus Ben Hayslip — are best-known as two of Nashville's best in an impressive list of Georgia-based songwriters, and when they perform they have plenty of classic music to choose from. Davidson has written three of his 16 No. 1 songs for Southwest Georgia running buddy Luke Bryan ("I Don't Want This Night to End," "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)" and "Rain Is a Good Thing"), and such artists as Lady Antebellum ("Just a Kiss") and Brooks & Dunn ("Put a Girl in It") have also climbed to the top of the country charts with Davidson-penned tunes.

Davidson is the ACM Songwriter of the Year, and he and Akins ("Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton and "The Shape I'm In" by Joe Nichols) share the BMI award.

Barber, who with business partner Justin Andrews and fellow musicians Bo Henry and Jeb Tabb has been working with Shugart to bring musical acts to the Throwdown, said the slow process of booking musicians is frustrating. But he said the festival's allure will grow with each new artist announcement.

"I guarantee you, there are some really big names we're still talking to, that we're close (to signing)," Barber said. "There's a reluctance among some acts because we're a first-time festival, even with us offering to pay 100 percent of their cost up front. But I think the contacts in the business Bo and I have made by playing and also booking bands is helping in that respect. And having Dallas on board doesn't hurt, either.

"The key for us is to do well this year. If we make everyone — the bands and the audience — happy, this thing's going to spread like wildfire."

Henry said getting off to a "late start" has slowed progress on the festival, but he said now that artists are being signed and tickets are on sale, things will pick up quickly.

"We've got people like Sam, Evan, Justin and Jeb who are working day and night to make things happen, and then you bring people on board the caliber of Cynthia George and things really start happening," Henry said. "Now that we've signed this first group of bands and plan to have the rest locked down in another week or so, we can start focusing on the details we've had to put on the back burner.

"Talking with people today (about the announcement), there are a lot of people who are excited. They want to see this happen in Southwest Georgia. We're doing this at a very reasonable price to establish our reputation because we're thinking beyond this year. This is the kind of thing we need in our community, and it's going to have something for everyone."

Chris Hayes, bassist with Another Alien Astronaut, said he and his bandmates are excited about the opportunity to play at the Throwdown.

"We really want to kick ass in front of our home crowd," Hayes said. "This could really be a game-changer for our band, and that's why we're floored — and very honored — to have this opportunity."

Shugart said more than half of the 338 RV sites being prepared on the festival grounds have already been grabbed up, but that free tent camping will be available with the purchase of a weekend pass. Vendor spaces and sponsorships are also available (www.340creativegroup.com), and VIP packages will be available soon with added perks.

Information is available at www.facebook.com/Sowegafest and at twitter@soweGAfest.


chinaberry25 3 years, 3 months ago

Great thing and hope you have good success.


agirl_25 3 years, 3 months ago

Good luck in your efforts with the Georgia Throwdown.... I know you are putting a lot of work into the effort and will not please everyone.....it is IMPOSSIBLE..but still hope it is a great time for all. For those music fans out there who are chompin' at the bit I know they are happy to have a lineup they can be thrilled about or gripe about now so be prepared for the pats on the back or your backside chewed out.......but still...congrats...hope the day goes well.


Amazed2 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, Sam and crew I do applaud you for your efforts but most of the bands you named are not what I call major acts. Guess maybe I don't know what I talking about with the exception of a couple people the rest can be heard a regional small event and bars. For your wallets sake I hope you guys can come up with some major artist. This year might be a learning event. I think you have a great idea but i would think you need to work on the major artist 6 months to a year out. Not on an impulse. After all it would be great to just put together a good event this year and maybe plan better for next year. 3-days is also pushing it a little. Not sure I would want to spend 3 days at the fairground in Albany Georgia listening to the line-up announced so far. Heck Sasser get Lorie Morgan she is bigger than anybody you guys came up with so far. Maybe she is looking for work. It is getting to be late August 2012 so I doubt you are getting too many big names for October 2012 if you dont already have them. Again, thanks for you efforts and best of luck.


Musicbuff 3 years, 3 months ago

Who is Lorrie Morgan? They got the Drive-by Truckers!!!!! These are the biggest names to ever play in southwest Georgia. You have the internet apparently. Do a little research on these acts. I can see why it's hard to get big name acts here...If the majority of this area's musical taste is based on who has performed in Sasser, then i'm sure the management for these larger acts take notice and wouldn't subject their artists to a music scene like that. This festival will be an educational experience that you definitely do not need to miss Amazed. This festival will hopefully change the culture of music here, and it will snow ball. All festivals start out small with the exception of Bonnaroo, Coachella, etc. which are corporate festivals. It's only going to get better and better!


Amazed2 3 years, 3 months ago

Musicbuff!! You reply totally makes my point!! If people have to research the bands on the internet to find out who they then they are not names common to the majority of people. Maybe to the teeny boppers and 20 yr olds they might have heard of Drive By Truckers. Keep in mind my comments are in context of the previous comments that events like this typically draw up to 300,000 (thats three hundred thousand). Not my numbers these were mentioned in an earlier news aritical by the organizers. IF they hope to get 1/6 th ( thats 50,000) people over 3 days they better come up with a headliner that everybody know who the heck they are without having to research the name on the internet as Musicbuff suggest. I am not the one that said 300,000 people and I am not the one clearing an additonal 70 acres for the 300,000 people. I am just saying if you are going to draw them then you better have some big and powerful names on the list and that ain't Evan and the Dead Gamblers. Can see them for free for the price of a glass of water at the local bar. I do wish the event the the best but I am a realist. This is the first year of the event so the organizers should be a realist too. They said they are hiring 100 bands with some being the biggest in the industry. They have been dragging their feet on announcing because what they finally put out a few days ago is all they have. I have been involved with organizations putting on large events for motorcycle events with some of of the best names in rock and country and they get nowhere close to 300,000, Musicbuff they are going to have to appeal to the 13 yr old to the 70 year old crowd to be successful. If you have internet or a SMART phone you might consider reserching this concept.


shellybean 3 years, 3 months ago

Amazed2, I get what you are saying, but you are truly doing the rising stars around here a disservice. You say you don't have to research to know who Lorrie Morgan is, but there was a day people didn't know HER name either. So, you're going to cheat yourself out of some potentially awesome music just because you don't recognize a name? How narrow-minded! There was a time in the even MORE recent past that Lee Co's Phillip Phillips was playing local venues and didn't have a name that is NOW recognized world-wide. When he performed at Riverjam 2010, he had a somewhat much smaller following than showed up for the Idol showcase at the end of the show and no doubt MUCH smaller than he now draws. My point, you and others should research these bands and come support them. If not, you may miss someone who will be just what you want to hear. Music business has changed drastically the last few years and MANY MANY MANY artists get discovered by "research" on the internet. And these artists depend on events like this to get their music out there. Even big name acts depend on festivals and concerts for their promotion. I recently heard Slash and several other huge acts saying exactly the same thing. I think all of us would LOVE a big name act to be here, but the reality is unless we support this festival any way we can, those acts WON'T come. Why should they? If all you care about is a name, instead of GOOD MUSIC, then this isn't the place for them to come -- because at the heart of all musicians is a desire to perform for people who want to hear the music.


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