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C3 Presents plans ‘nostalgic pop and rock’ festival

C3 Presents plans to launch a new two-day festival in Huntsville, Alabama, this September.

South Star festival will debut between 28–29 September at John Hunt Park, also known as the ‘Central Park’ of Huntsville.

Huntsville hasn’t hosted a large-scale music festival since the Big Spring Jam in 2011, which brought artists including Destiny’s Child, Taylor Swift and Wilco to the city.

“This a win-win for Huntsville as well as the region,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “This is a great opportunity to work with a world-class festival producer to bring a world-class event to a world-class park. We can’t wait to see the lineup.”

Huntsville hasn’t hosted a large-scale music festival since the Big Spring Jam in 2011

While the lineup is yet to be announced, social media posts promise punters “nostalgic pop & rock anthems” and C3 Presents’ Ted Heinig told local press that South Star could be compared to the promoter’s Shakey Knees festival, which this year features the Foo Fighters, Bill Idol, Queens of the Stone Age and Arcade Fire.

“Festivals that are really successful right now are focused top-to-bottom and they’re super-serving their fans with all of the artists they like,” Heinig told AL.com.

The C3 Presents festival director has also addressed South Star’s clash with two highly anticipated college football games, adding “We have a strategy to blend football with the music”.

“SEC country takes football season seriously and so do we. Post up with a beer, good eats and friends to watch the big games at our giant sports bar,” reads a section of the website.

C3 Presents’ festival portfolio also includes Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, as well as newer offerings Minnesota Yacht Club, Sick New World and Two Step Inn.


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Ben Lovett talks Venue Group’s US ambitions

Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett has told IQ about his first move into the US market with the opening of two new venues in Huntsville, Alabama.

Lovett is CEO of Venue Group, which operates London’s Omeara (320-cap), Lafayette (600-cap) and The Social (250-cap). Last year, he announced plans to expand his independent empire with the 8,000-cap Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, Alabama, scheduled to open in May 2022.

“It probably seems quite an exotic shift from London at first glance, but there was a whole sequence of events that led me to Huntsville,” explains Lovett. “It actually started with the London mayor’s office, funnily enough, and Shain Shapiro from [music market development consultancy] Sound Diplomacy, who did the whole audit about the night-time economy and why we need to keep culture in the centre of our cities, so they don’t end up becoming just a big bunch of flats and offices.

“We met at the launch of Omeara five years ago, then [Shapiro] did a similar study for the city of Huntsville, which is now the biggest city in Alabama. They have lots of great jobs and lots of people live there, but there’s nothing to do, and the conclusion was that they wanted to build a big outdoor amphitheatre.

“They put a request for people to come in to present their vision – it was like an episode of X Factor. And we were like, ‘If you’re going to do this, you’ve got to build something remarkable.’ And they liked the sound of that, so they gave us the contracts and we’ve spent the last three years designing this thing.”

Details of its 13-15 May opening weekend celebration, The First Waltz, were confirmed earlier this week. Acts will include Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Emmylou Harris, John Paul White, St Paul and the Broken Bones, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

The idea is to build one of the best new venues in the world

The scheme is being managed by Huntsville Venue Group, a partnership between Lovett and industry veterans Ryan Murphy, Mike Luba, Don Sullivan, Jeff Kicklighter and Al Santos.

“The idea is to build one of the best new venues in the world,” declares Lovett, who reveals plans are afoot to complement the project with another ‘Omeara-sized’ venue in the city.

“One of the things that we learned was that you need to build a whole ecosystem,” he says. “There’s no point having just one big venue so bands from out of town come and play a handful of times, you’ve got to nurture local grassroots talent.”

The New York-based Brit suggests there is still much more to come on that front.

“We are going to try and figure out another venue in London before too long, and we’re having some interesting conversations with other cities in America,” he adds. “I’ve spent so much of my adult life touring America and I’m such a big fan of this country; I want to try and see where else we can build great venues here.”

Venue Group has offices in London, New York, Huntsville, Alabama and Austin. And the 35-year-old musician and Communion co-founder, who invested in D2F startup Planet over the summer, suggests the fallout from the cessation of touring during the pandemic has only strengthened his resolve.

“That hasn’t slowed us down,” he insists. “If anything, it’s actually made us more bullish – the reason being that we saw every man and his dog try and figure out a way to bring shows into people’s living rooms, and it just didn’t work. So if 18 months can’t break down the bond of the live music experience between fans and artists, then you better believe I’m going to go all in on this thing.”

Check out iq-mag.net next week for part two of our interview with Lovett.


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