Rodney Atkins to headline 9-1-1 Festival Concert

Country superstar Rodney Atkins will headline this year’s 9-1-1 Festival concert, which will take place May 31. (Courtesy photo)

HALEYVILLE - Country’s coming back in a big way for this year’s Haleyville 9-1-1 Festival concert, which is set for Friday, May 31.
The 9-1-1 Festival, which is held annually to commemorate Haleyville being the place where the first 9-1-1 call was made in 1968, begins each year with a free concert off of Main Street downtown, with the music beginning just after 5 p.m
9-1-1 Festival Committee Member Brandon Norris made the announcement about this year’s musical line-up via the festival’s Facebook page during the Super Bowl Sunday night, Feb. 11.  This year’s festival will be headlined by mega-country star Rodney Atkins, who will be joined by singer/songwriter/entertainer Paul Thorn, Area 51 - a super group that will take the audience back to the glory days of 1980s rock -  and regional country-rock band Backdraft.
Norris has worked hard to bring together a musical line-up he believes everyone will love.
“I’m really excited about this show,”  Norris said.  “I think it’s going to be a concert that is grounded in the roots of the South.  There are stories and songs here from the South that people will be able to connect with.  Rodney is very patriotic, and that is a big deal for this community.    Paul is a real down home, down-to-earth person with a lot of funny stories and great songs.  Area 51 is a throwback to ‘80s rock.  This is the one you don’t want to miss.”   

Rodney Atkins

Atkins has been a mainstay in country music for years.  A Tennessee native, Atkins released his debut single in the late 1990s and got his first Top 10 hit a few years later with “Honesty (Write Me a List).”  He reached the stratosphere of country music in 2006 with the single “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)”, which spent a month at the top of the country charts and was named the top country hit of the year.   
He followed that monster hit up with another one, “Watching You,” which also spent four weeks at the top of the country charts and was the Top Country Song of 2007.  “Watching You” was named the top song of the decade by Country Aircheck.  
Atkins has also topped the country charts with “It’s America”, “These Are My People”, “This Is My Gun (Come On In Boy)” and “Take a Back Road.”  
An Academy of Country Music New Male Vocalist award winner, Atkins has been nominated for six additional ACM awards, and also has two  County Music Association Award nominations.  He has 11 RIAA certified gold and platinum singles and albums and has over 1.5 billion U.S. on-demand career streams and counting.
Atkins was the exact type of performer Norris was looking to bring to Haleyville, he noted.
“He has as much song recognition as anyone we have ever had,”  Norris said.  “He’s a monster.  People don’t really realize what all he has.  
“He’s on the same level as Craig Morgan and Sara Evans,”  Norris said, referring to artists who have headlined the 9-1-1 Festival in the past.

Paul Thorn

Singer-songwriter Paul Thorn is bring his entertaining blend of blues-country straight out of Mississippi to Haleyville, taking the stage just before Atkins.  Norris noted that Thorn’s background, artistry and sense of humor will be highly entertaining to the audience.
 “He is unique. He is special.  He sings a lot of southern blues, country blues, highly entertaining.  He will tell stories.
“His daddy was a preacher.  His uncle was a pimp,”  Norris said. “He’s actually from Gattman, Miss., just outside of Sulligent.  “Most people will absolutely love him because he’s a little like Neal McCoy with the comedy and the stories.  He’s highly, highly entertaining.”
Thorn’s colorful upbringing has helped shape his music and his performance style.  According to the bio on his website, Thorn is an original, unafraid to interrupt a show to make off-the-cuff and often hilarious observations, which have the audience rolling.  His talent and sense of humor have paid off, helping him to build  a devoted fan base, Norris said.
“There will be 1,500-2,000 people here just for him,”  Norris said.

Area 51

Memphis is coming to play at the 9-1-1 Festival this year in the form of Area 51, a supergroup among cover bands, formed by some of the best classic rock musicians and vocalists in the business.  They will take the stage prior
Area 51 is comprised by Memphis-based talents Josh Haynes (guitar/vocals), David Haynes (keyboards), Lance Binder (bass/vocals) and Jimmy Fulp (drums/vocals).  Each of these artists has been a part of legendary rock groups, including Survivor and Roxy Blue.  In addition, they have shared the stage and performed with incredible artists such as Mickey Thomas (Jefferson Starship, Starship), John Cafferty, Joey Molland (Badfinger), Corey Glover (Living Colour) and Jerry Riggs (.38 Special.)
Area 51 will have the generation who grew up with the amazing classic rock of the 1980s up on their feet, Norris said.
“They are going to play Van Halen, Journey, Night Ranger, Survivor, Toto, good ‘80s stuff.  That will take my generation back to their high school days,”  Norris said.


This year’s opening act, Jasper’s own Backdraft, is no stranger to Haleyville, having played the festival before, as well as played at the Heart of Haleyville Park this past summer.  
Hailed as one of Northwest Alabama’s “longest performing bands,” Backdraft’s music is rooted in country, rock, Motown and pop, along with a heart for gospel.  The band is comprised by Vickie Cosby (vocals,)   Tony Long (lead guitar/vocals,) Jeff Parnell (acoustic guitar/vocals,) Danny Long (bass,) Barry Key (keyboards and vocals) and Terry Merchant (drums.)  
Norris is thrilled to have them back in Haleyville and on the main stage for the Friday night concert.
“Backdraft will bring a good, homegrown sound to our festival!  They are great people with a great sound,”  Norris said.
Norris and the 9-1-1 Committee thank Mayor Ken Sunseri and the Haleyville City Council for their support for the festival, all of the city department staffs, the Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce, all present, past and potential sponsors and the citizens of Haleyville and the surrounding communities for being a part of helping the 9-1-1 Festival to grow bigger each and every year.
Norris encourages everyone to bring their lawn chairs and come out
“Clear your calendars for Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1,”  Norris said. “Get ready!”









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