Country concert starts line-up

By Patricia Ann Speelman -




NEWPORT — Organizers of Country Concert 2016, scheduled for July 7-9, have booked several old favorites and some new faces to perform at the popular festival.

Many of the decisions about whom to invite are based on fan surveys, according to General Manager Paul Barhorst.

“We did (a survey) in March 2015 to see who people wanted to see in 2016,” he said. The survey listed 200 artists, from up-and-comers to classic performers. Some 6,000-7,000 fans responded.

“The no. 1-requested artist was Eric Church.” Church, who performed in Newport in 2012, will headline the Saturday talent line-up with a 10 p.m. performance on the main stage.

Dierks Bentley, who last performed here in 2013, will anchor the Friday line-up at the same time.

Also scheduled to appear on the main stage are returnees Dustin Lynch at 8 p.m., Thursday; Thomas Rhett at 8 p.m., Saturday; and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at 6 p.m., Thursday.

“They’re a great act we’ve had many times,” Barhorst said of the latter. “This will be the seventh time they’ve performed here since 1987, but the first time since 1998.”

Rhett’s latest single, “Die a Happy Man,” reached no. 1 on the charts within the last week.

Newcomers to the Hickory Hills main stage will be Chris Janson, scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m., and Sam Hunt, who will perform at 8 p.m., Friday.

“(Hunt) just won Country Music Television’s Artist of the Year for 2015. He’s had three straight no. 1 singles and his next is about to go no. 1,” Barhorst said. Hunt, too, was a popular fan survey choice.

Old Dominion, who played Wednesday night’s party for campers in 2015, will return to do so again in 2016 at 10 p.m. Also planned for the camper party is a performance by Clark Manson, back by popular demand, at 8 p.m.

Booked for the Saloon stage are Cam at 7 p.m., Friday; bluegrass band SteelDrivers at 5 and 9:15 p.m., Saturday; Carter Winter at 3 p.m., Thursday; and Haley Georgia at 1 and 3 p.m., Saturday.

“We’ll announce a couple more main stage artists by the end of the year and the whole line-up by the end of February,” Barhorst said.

Tickets for performances and for camping are available at Prices range from a $79, Thursday-only pass to a $617 3-day pass with meals. For information, call 295-3000.



By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.