By Steve WildsmithÂ
Prepare yourselves, Blount County residents there’s a Red-Headed Stranger coming to this year’s Foothills Fall Festival.
Willie Nelson, one of the most beloved and notorious country music icons of the last 50 years, will close out the concert portion of this year’s festival, which takes place Oct. 10-12 at Theater in the Park along the Greenbelt below the Blount County Courthouse in downtown Maryville. Tickets to the three-day event — which also includes sets by classic rockers Foreigner and country stars Josh Turner, Jason Aldean, Jason Michael Carroll and Billy Ray Cyrus — go on sale July 18 for $35.
This year’s entertainment selections were a result of a combination of things but had a lot to do with requests from guests,” said Jane Groff, events coordinator for the City of Maryville. “We are excited beyond words to have Willie Nelson, an American icon, closing out another incredible weekend of performances. Nelson has been near the top of many of our festival guests’ wishlists for years.
As always, the Foothills Fall Festival will introduce some of the hottest new performers in country music as well as seasoned favorites. We are most excited about offering all this entertainment for the same low price of $35 for three days.”
Foreigner led by founding member, guitarist and songwriter Mick Jones was one of the kings of arena-rock groups in the 1970s and ’80s, charting such hits as “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Jukebox Hero,” “Hot Blooded,” “Cold As Ice,” “Double Vision” and more. Although original singer Lou Gramm left the group in 2003, the band found an able replace in singer Kelly Hansen, formerly of the classic rock outfit Hurricane. Other members of Foreigner 2008 include Dave Pilson, former bass player for metal group Dokken, and Jason Bonham, son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
Saturday brings a trio of male country artists who have handfuls of hits between them. Cyrus, who rose to fame with his smash hit “Achy Breaky Heart,” has also charted such songs as “Some Gave All” and “Ready, Set, Don’t Go,” and he’s found success recently with his daughter, Miley, in her “Hannah Montana” TV and movie ventures. Aldean’s two albums ï¿½ 2005′s self-titled debut and 2007′s “Relentless” — have charted several hits as well, including “Why” (which reached No. 1), “Amarillo Sky,” “Johnny Cash” and “Laughed Until We Cried.” Turner, whose debut album “Long Black Train” spent more than 40 weeks on the Billboard country charts, has had three Top 10 singles — “Your Man,” “Would You Go With Me” and “Firecracker,” the former two landing at No. 1.
In addition to Sunday night’s closing performance by Nelson, the evening will feature a set by Julianne Hough, an actress, singer and dancer who exploded on national television as part of ABC-TV’s “Dancing With the Stars.” The 19-year-old recently signed a country music deal with Universal Music Group Nashville and is pursuing a career as a singer. Carroll, whose 2007 album “Waitin’ in the Country” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, will then warm up the crowd for the festival’s grand finale — Nelson.
Nelson rose to fame during the so-called “outlaw country” movement of the 1970s after making a name for himself as a songwriter for others during the 1960s. Ever since, he’s remained an iconic part of American popular culture, as both a performing artist and as an actor. At 75, he remains one of the most prolific popular artists of recent years, having released, since 2003, four live albums, two greatest hits collections, a four-CD boxed set, three collaborative records and nine studio albums.
This year marks the ninth Foothills Fall Festival to be held in downtown Maryville. Past festivals have featured such acts as Alabama, Randy Travis, Vince Gill, Gretchen Wilson, Bo Diddley, KC and the Sunshine Band, Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin, Gin Blossoms, Sister Hazel, Little Big Town, The Wreckers, George Jones, the Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Ann Womack and more.Â
“We definitely encourage guests to purchase tickets as soon as possible,” Groff said. “The sellout last year surprised many and left them without tickets.”
Tickets, which go on sale July 18, will be available at the Maryville Municipal Center, Blount County branches of First Tennessee and GreenBank and through Tickets Unlimited (charge by phone at 656-4444 or order online at knoxvilletickets.com). A limited number of reserved seats will be available through Tickets Unlimited, and more information about reserved ticket sales, including seating charts, will be available via the website on Tuesday.
The 2008 Foothills Fall Festival
WHEN: Oct. 10-12
WHERE: Theater in the Park, along the Greenbelt below the Blount County Courthouse, downtown Maryville, Tennessee near the intersection of Highways 321 and 129.
HOW MUCH: $35 for a three-day pass, starting July 18
Friday, Oct. 10: Foreigner
Saturday, Oct. 11: The Hammers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jason Aldean, Josh Turner
Sunday, Oct. 12: Julianne Hough, Jason Michael Carroll, Willie Nelson