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Three-day music and arts festival announced

The SOWEGA Music and Arts Festival is scheduled to take place Oct. 12-14 at the Albany Fairgrounds.

The SOWEGA Music and Arts Festival is scheduled to take place Oct. 12-14 at the Albany Fairgrounds.

ALBANY -- Sam Shugart may be the absolute perfect person to put on a music festival. After all, the guy doesn't really care that much about music.

"That's why I have these guys," Shugart said, indicating Albany-based Threeforty Creative Group partners Evan Barber and Justin Andrews. "That's why I asked them on as partners, not investors. They have knowledge about the music business that's vital to what we're doing. I've been organizing events to make money for more than 20 years.

"I think together we have an opportunity to do something big."

What Shugart, the Threeforty guys and other investors, partners and cheerleaders are doing is bringing the first Southwest Georgia Music and Arts Festival to Albany's Exchange Club Fairgrounds Oct. 12-14. Modeled after this weekend's BamaJam festival in Enterprise, Ala., there's nothing small-time about Shugart's vision for the Southwest Georgia fest.

"An estimated 300,000 people attend BamaJam every year, and Enterprise is a town of around 26,000 people," Shugart, a principle in the Reynolds Shugart & Associates insurance agency, said. "Albany's population is 70,000, and the metropolitan statistical area has 135,000 people.

"If they can squeeze 300,000 people in that little community, I don't see why we would have any problem at the 106 acres at the fairgrounds."

Shugart announced plans for the Southwest Georgia Music and Arts Festival at a luncheon Tuesday attended by invited guests.

"Every person here was hand-picked strategically by me for a reason," Shugart said. "I invite you to ask others who might be interested to be a part of the conversation, but everyone here is someone I believe would have a vested interest in the success of what we're doing."

Barber, who in addition to his involvement with Threeforty, leads the alternative band Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers, said finding the right musical acts for the festival will be essential.

"We're going to reach out to some national acts with local ties first, see if we can get them involved in what we're doing," Barber said. "Then we'll fill out the lineup with national, regional and local acts that we have interactions with. I don't think we'll have any trouble putting together a strong lineup for music fans; we have as many as 50 bands who we're interested in or who have expressed interest in us.

"I think we have an advantage in that we'll be talking with the musicians; they're not talking to some promoter. They might say, 'This guy is just some insurance agent,' where they know I'm out there on the road playing, too. The idea we have is Sam will pull in the business, and we'll handle the artistic side of it."

No artists have been signed for the festival, but Shugart mentioned country superstars Luke Bryan, Zac Brown and Dallas Davidson; Georgia rockers drivin' n' cryin'; soul great Percy Sledge, and local acts such as Barber's Gamblers and the Bo Henry Band among those on his wish list.

Shugart has already started putting together logistics, lining up vendors and possible revenue streams, and coming up with special events to hold in conjunction with the festival. Initial plans call for three stages, more than 50 food vendors, more than 200 other miscellaneous vendors, RV and primitive camping, a secure kids area, a national barbecue cooking contest, arts shows and a national armwrestling competition.

Among the ideas he's considering are a fishing exhibition, a boat show, a tractor show, tram stops on the fairgrounds site, a demolition derby, paint ball, carnival games, go-cart rides, mud wrestling and festival T-shirt and memorabilia sales.

"That's why I invited you here; I want people who are going to wake up at midnight with ideas, write them down and then call me about them in the morning," Shugart said. "I want your ideas; I want you thinking outside the box."

While many have broached the idea of a large festival of this sort in the region, no one's been willing to put their money and their time where their mouths are. Until now.

"I've got the fairgrounds on Oct. 12, 13 and 14, so we are going to have a festival," he said. "It may be the Bo Henry Band playing all three days for me, but I will be out there. But I've got a feeling there are a lot of people in this region who will be as excited about this as we are.

"The people here always say they're looking for something to do. Well, we're going to give it to them."

Comments

Albanite 2 years, 2 months ago

Obviously Shugart is greener than a newborn banana and has no clue what he's doing or who to bring on board to get something like this done.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

Then try to help him find some bands.

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bfreeman42 2 years, 2 months ago

Right...because we're all connected like that. Let me just put in a few phone calls and see what I can do!

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VietVet1 2 years, 2 months ago

Good luck. Better have some deep pockets cause some folks in Albany will put a damper on your parade. For a town that talks tourism they sure haven't been able to profit from it.

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VietVet1 2 years, 2 months ago

Question for Shugart - where have you put on money making events for the past 20 years and name a few (four or five) of the big ones.

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TheTruthIsOutThere 2 years, 2 months ago

Good for you, Sam! Play the music, the people will come. This a good thing for Albany!

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sdr31763 2 years, 2 months ago

Awesome!!! Sounds like a good idea for albany!!! Now will th epeople support it?

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neliz 2 years, 2 months ago

bananas are my favorite fruit. these guys seem to have a real plan to make sowega fest successful. thanks for having the ambition to take on such a huge endeavor to promote music and the arts in albany!

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bfreeman42 2 years, 2 months ago

TOO LATE! We already have a fair!

I know they didn't ask for my opinion but I'ma give it to ya anyway:

The Short List (and most likely not to come): The Dave Matthews Band, Galactic, The Black Keys, and Ben Harper

The Long List (if you can get em to come): Squirrel Nut Zipper, Bela Fleck, The Roots, Blues Traveler, Foo Fighters, Fuel, Fun Lovin Criminals, MadeskiMartin&Wood, Maroon 5, Soul Coughing, The Black Crows, Tom Petty, Vintage, and The Chemical Brothers.

Not to be ugly, I have seen all of the bands posted at many a venue, paid various amounts to see them and continue to support local bands...with the exception of Luke Bryan, Zac Brown and Dallas Davidson (I don't know who they are. I don't listen to Country.), I'll prolly end up out there cause I do like to support things like this that come to town...not gonna be too excited about seeing bands I don't know nor listen to, and that's the problem at the heart of my statement. The other problem at the heart of this issue....I seem to be unique to this area...I should prolly move. ♥

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bfreeman42 2 years, 2 months ago

considered for moderator approval? really?

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billybob 2 years, 2 months ago

I wish them the best, as I would love to go to something like this if they get some 'A' level acts. I just don't think they're going to be able to get the acts. I'm quite certain the guarantee for Zac Brown is north of six figures. Luke Bryan would be cheaper, but still pricey by Albany standards. If the goal is to have more than one headline-type attraction plus several supporting acts, you're really going to have to break out the checkbook. Additionally, many of the big acts are already booked for the rest of the year. I'm just not interested in going to the fair grounds to hear talented, but uninspired cover bands that are already playing the bars around here.

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SamShugart 2 years, 2 months ago

To Mr Moderator, my goal is to pull off a once in a lifetime deal, please publish my comments, talk to Carlton as needed:

To Albanite, Viet Vet1 and bfreeman = Kiss my a$$. The naysayers are always the first to poke their ugly heads up about nothing to do in Albany. Please come join us as our VIP guests. I will be happy to compare checkbooks, financial statements net worth or otherwise from my CPA to yours. Good luck and thanks for having interest in SOWEGA Music and Art Fest! Sam Shugart.

PS - My phone number is 229-883-0088 should you need to contact me and my office address is 1704 Gillionville Road should you need to meet face to face. Again, thank you for your interest.

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SamShugart 2 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Guys, I just could not let untolerated redneck stuff lie. Sam Shugart

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soccermomlc 2 years, 2 months ago

This is a music festival where there will be music from different genres. Everyone needs to stop being negative and look at the financial impact this event will have on the community not only in hotel revenue, increased sales for food, gas, etc. If you aren't sponsoring, maybe you should keep quiet on someone the finances of someone else. I look forward to this event!!! Good job Sam!!!

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billybob 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok, so it's now just a once-in-a-lifetime event? I thought the goal was a BamaJam type of annual festival. Either way, best of luck. I certainly hope it comes together.

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harryhood41 2 years, 2 months ago

I think this is exactly what Albany needs. Albany has absolutely no culture and we need this. But, if this is going to happen we need more than just country type music. No body travels for country music. We need smaller bands that play The Hangout and Bonarroo. We need jam bands to play here and smaller bands that could be easy to book. If the creators are reading this might I suggest: Futurebirds, Alabama Shakes, Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, moe, Furthur, Cornmeal, Leftover Salmon, Drive By Truckers, etc. I highly doubt you could get any of those bigger names, but that would be great. Because I know thousands of people in the South who would travel for those bands. Too bad Panic is on hiatus or you could contact them. I don't think you guys could afford them, but you never know. I like seeing BHB and EB on the bill, but we need bands no one has ever seen before to try and GET people to come to Albany.

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DebBruner 2 years, 2 months ago

"Nobody travels for country music?" Really.. Tell that to the folks at BamaJam and CMA festival.. CMA festival just had a record setting year with ticket sales and attendance.. Albany can make it happen.. With multi-genre bands/groups/artists there should be a lot of interest.. But it takes people coming together and not pushing folks away. FYI although the booking price for some acts is high, they will sometimes reduce their 'rate' for an event like this.. Good Luck Sam..

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harryhood41 2 years, 1 month ago

They don't. Does Kenny Chesney or George Strait headline Bonarroo or Coachella? No. They are two completely different markets. Yes, people will travel for it, but not like people do for cult bands.

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