By LAURA WILLIAMS
Crowds, music and football all run together. When the stadium is rocking, the music keeps the crowd into the game and up on their feet. The mood of the game really starts outside. Tailgating. Friends, food, beverages and, of course, entertainment.
Over the last few years, UK has gotten better and better about seeing this connection. It really struck me Saturday when I went to the stadium to see the fabulous J.D. Shelburne. There’s a family connection so I was very excited to be there.
I’d never met him nor been to a concert. The music was great and J.D. had the crowd going with covers like “Wagon Wheel,” “Friends in Low Places” and chants of C-A-T-S and Go Big Blue! Even UK dancing man, Darren Moscoe, was up on stage doing his famous moves.
I could hear the music as soon as I parked streets away. I came late so I thought when I walked around the corner to the concert it would be packed and I’d have trouble getting up close to the stage. Sadly, this wasn’t the case at all. This is no reflection on J.D. however. A Kentucky boy and a country favorite around the state and in Nashville, he is popular and has a large following. But I kept wondering, “Where is everybody?”
I really like where the new stage is located. It’s near Gate 12 where the new SEC Trailblazers statue stands. There are places to sit on the retaining wall and lots of space for people and dancing — even people already in the stadium can watch from the rails. Do people not know where the concert is at?
I think this is the third stage location in three years. It’s tucked back in a corner kind of out of the way. It’s not in a visible tailgate spot. It’s off the beaten path of, at my estimation, 3/4 or more of the tailgaters. I think this will be a problem for the artists and the fans. You’re going to have to want to go to that specific concert. I don’t believe this is ideal.
I feel bad for artists like J.D. who, at my guess, are expecting a much larger crowd. It was perfect weather. It was warm; the sun was shining and we were about to start SEC football. Is UK trying to draw a crowd to the statue and the new training facility?
The spot can work. There are definite positives. As someone who loves live music and football, these concerts are a perfect pairing. I hope there’s more advertising of the concerts. Maybe signs. Bring people over. I think it would be great to make the SEC Trailblazers statue a centerpiece for UK football. I don’t want the music lost along the way.