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Darton to host concerts for foundation

Darton State College hosting concerts to benefit Darton Foundation

Country musician Corey Smith will be performing a concert at Darton State College’s Cavalier Arena Saturday night at 8 p.m. to benefit the Darton Foundation. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Country musician Corey Smith will be performing a concert at Darton State College’s Cavalier Arena Saturday night at 8 p.m. to benefit the Darton Foundation. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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In addition to his upcoming show at Darton State College this Saturday, country music star Corey Smith is playing a string of shows this summer in advance of the release of his ninth album, which is being produced by acclaimed producrer Keith Stegall. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Country music star Corey Smith is set to headline the first of a series of concerts to benefit the Darton State College Foundation this Saturday at the school’s Cavalier Arena.

The Corey Smith show is the first of a planned series of concerts the Darton Foundation is hoping will not only generate interest in the community but also generate much needed funding for the many scholarships the foundation awards each year.

Foundation Chairman Glenn Tennyson says the Darton Foundation awards $350,000 in scholarships to deserving students that are recruited to attend the school, something he feels benefits the school greatly.

“The Foundation is a huge engine that is partly responsible for the growth and success of the school,” said Tennyson. “A lot of Darton’s success is that we’ve recruited quality students to the school.”

Tennyson said historically the Foundation has been supported by myriad donors, but the goal of the concert series is to broaden the foundation’s base of support as some larger donors, hit hard by difficult economic times, have scaled back their donations.

“The money for scholarships doesn’t come out of thin air,” said Tennyson. “It’s the community. It’s companies and people that make large donations, down to folks who will hopefully buy tickets to these concerts. Our hope is that the community will come out and support this.”

Having grown up in Albany, Tennyson said he remembers the days in 1980s when Albany used to be a hotbed of live music as national acts from a variety of genres regularly made stops in Albany on their way to bigger cities like Atlanta and Jacksonville.

“If the community will support it, it will be a win win,” Tennyson said. “If you think about it, Albany used to be very successful getting live music here. We’re just as state of that art as any other place.”

Tennyson feels as though the concert series can be a success thanks to Darton’s Cavalier Arena venue, which boasts a large stage and air-conditioned seating for more than 3,000 patrons.

“One of the great things about Darton is that we’ve got an excellent facility,” Tennyson said.

In an effort to ensure the concert series’ success, the Foundation has enlisted the services of McAplin Entertainment, a professional promotion and booking company based in Nashville, Tenn., that has experience in handling big shows with nationally known artists.

McAlpin Entertainment owner Austin McAlpin echoed Tennyson’s sentiment saying that he feels Albany, as well as Cavalier Arena, are attractive to artists looking to book shows in the area.

“They’ve got a very nice room over there,” said McAlpin. “I’m trying to bring in quality acts.”

McAlpin, who has produced shows for artists like Edwin McCain, Joe Diffie, Travis Tritt and Confederate Railroad and booked opening acts for Tim McGraw, Journey and Kid Rock as well, also feels the combination of enjoying a good show while raising money for a good cause will aid in making the concert series a success.

In addition to the Corey Smith show Saturday, a second concert featuring Travis Tritt is scheduled for July and both McAlpin and Tennyson hope to have more shows moving forward.

“If this takes off we’d like to do a concert every quarter,” said Tennyson. “It’ll depend on the success of these first two.”

While the first two concerts scheduled are country music, both Tennyson and McAlpin want to bring in acts from other genres too. They are also hoping to provide a mixture of established artists like Smith and Tritt and up-and-coming artists as well.

“We’re starting with the country genre, but we hope to branch out from there to appeal to even more people,” said Tennyson. “The most important thing is that these concerts are safe for all ages and people know they can come to the show and have a good safe time.”

A good time is exactly what Smith hopes to give the crowd at Saturday’s show, saying it’s always a thrill for him to get to play in Albany.

“I’ve always had a good time in Albany,” said Smith. “The fans always come out and are very supportive. Places like Albany have always been my bread and butter, so to speak. It’s the kind of place where my fans are.”

While Smith said he’ll draw from all of his eight albums at the show, he will be playing a handful of tracks from his forthcoming album as well.

“I try to put myself in the shows of the audience and play what I think they want to hear,” Smith said. “Not inundate them with a whole lot of things they haven’t heard before. We’ll play some of the new stuff though.”

Smith said he is anxiously awaiting the release of what will be his ninth album in the coming months. Smith said that for the most part the album is done and that once again he wrote the entire thing and performs it with his band, the current line up of which has been together for the last two years.

“I’m extremely happy about it,” Smith said. “It’s the most ambitious record I’ve made to date.”

With no release date set for the record, Smith and his band are spending most of their time on tour, playing shows throughout the South and along the east coast.

Saturday’s concert at Darton, presented by Texas Pete, is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased in advance through www.ticketalternative.com. Reserve seating is $25 and general admission is $20. Tickets will be available the day of the show at $35 for reserved seating and $30 for general admission.

All proceeds go to support the Darton State College Foundation.