BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
The more Tim Sweetwood thought about it, the idea to produce a major country music festival in the Atlanta area was a pretty obvious one.
“There was a gap in the market and, frankly, we’re in Georgia, in the South, and we didn’t have a country festival? It’s like, c’mon, the South goes hand in hand with country,” Sweetwood said.
The concert promoter, only a few days removed from a successful third installment of the indie rock Shaky Knees festival held in Atlanta, opted to hold the Shaky Boots festival immediately afterward because “you can build off your own infrastructure.”
The inaugural two-day Shaky Boots event — taking place this Saturday and Sunday — moves outside of the city limits to the grounds of Kennesaw State University, including its Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
The suburban outpost, coupled with a top-drawer lineup of country names including Brad Paisley (read our interview with him here) , Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Dwight Yoakam, Sara Evans, the Band Perry, Dierks Bentley and Kristian Bush (read our interview with him here) , has drawn about 90 percent of its ticket sales from within the state. (Shaky Knees, meanwhile, attracted a national and international audience with about 65 percent of sales from outside of Atlanta, according to Sweetwood.)
Unlike the Shaky Knees locale, there is no public transportation leading into Kennesaw, but there are numerous parking options (passes can be purchased in advance) — some within walking distance and others offering shuttle service.
“The country crowd is a little more used to tailgating and going to amphitheaters for concerts,” Sweetwood said. “Of course, we encourage people to have their designated drivers if they’re going to be drinking, but the arrangement is set to match what a country crowd is and to be more accessible from where (festivalgoers) are coming from.”
Three stages will be erected around the KSU Sports and Entertainment Park — roads will be blocked off to traffic — and Sweetwood said advance ticket sales point to about 25,000 fans attending each day.
“We expect it to be exponential,” Sweetwood said of ticket sales. “The country crowd takes a little longer, but we look to have success in year one and success breeds further success.”
Shaky Boots Saturday (May 16) lineup:
Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, the Band Perry, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Isbell, Kip Moore, Joe Nichols, Josh Thompson, the Whiskey Gentry, Jana Kramer, Kristian Bush, Craig Wayne Band, the Railers, Amanda Shires, Brooke Eden, Songs for Kids.
Shaky Boots Sunday (May 17) lineup:
Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Justin Moore, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sara Evans, Eli Young Band, Rodney Atkins, the Devil Makes Three, the Cadillac Three, Cracker, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Clare Dunn, Drake White and the Big Fire, John and Jacob, Jim White vs. Packway Handle Band, Songs for Kids.
Hours: Noon to 11 p.m. each day.
Where: KSU Sports and Entertainment Park, 3000 George W. Busbee Parkway, Kennesaw.
Tickets: $95 (single-day general admission); $185 (two-day general admission); $350 (single-day VIP); $499 (two-day advance VIP). Children under 8 are free with a paying adult (no more than two kids per adult). It is highly recommended not to bring children under 8 years of age.
Box office: The Shaky Boots box office will be located at KSU Stadium Box Office, 3200 George W. Busbee Parkway.
Transportation: Parking passes can be purchased in advance at www.ticketalternative.com ($15-$30 single day, $20-$45 two-day). Some lots are within walking distance; others have shuttle pickup. Handicapped parking is available in all lots and shuttles are handicapped accessible.
There’s an app for that: A Shaky Boots one with schedules and maps and other helpful tidbits. Available for Androids and iPhones.
Info: 1-800-745-3000, www.shakyboots.com.
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