News Column

Hip-hop, R&B find more support than Hispanic music at 2014 fair

August 30, 2014

By William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas

Aug. 30--Herb Higgs, general manager of the Panhandle-South Plains Fair, indicated that his staff is planning a major celebration when the 100th regional fair opens in 2017.

That said, he has changed some of the booking of Fair Park Coliseum entertainment during this year's 97th annual fair, which opens on Sept. 19 and continues through Sept. 27..

When Higgs arrived in Lubbock in 2001 (actually taking the reigns in 2002), Lubbock's regional fair had, almost since its inception, emphasized country music.

Tejano became a yearly attraction in 1989.

Twenty-five years later, said Higgs, those playing hip-hop, soul and R&B demand to be heard. Higgs began with the still well-known Boyz II Men in 2009, and was stunned by long lines of fans hoping to land tickets and being rewarded with a terrific show.

Owners at radio station 104.9 FM, called The Beat, were not used to Lubbock's fair officials paying attention to their listeners.

So they turned on the jets and proved what they could provide. They gave headliner suggestions to Higgs, and promised they would put a butt in every seat.

Higgs took a chance on EnVogue, Giluwine, K-Ci & Jojo and finally Brandy. The Beat earned new listeners, and this year Higgs became willing to take a high-stkes-poker-game sort of risk by allowing The Beat to double its shows.

The Beat will give away tickets this month for Bobby V on Sept, 20, and Joe on Sept. 26.

Higgs is offering only six shows this season.

He already insists that each Fair Park Coliseum concert be given away.

His attitude is that a free concert will bring families to the fairgrounds and, once there, the variety of entertainment on the fairgrounds -- from hypnotists to Bengal tigers, not to mention all those carnival rides -- will keep them there.

Radio stations listed as "sponsors" do not contribute one penny toward paying the stars on stage. That's where Higgs takes his risks.

But he is more than satisfied, as long as the "sponsor" will advertise their show so often that everyone wants a ticket.

KLLL-FM became the fair's powerhouse decades ago. KLLL pays all artist fees for shows.

The fair is out nothing, and the powerful country radio station takes all risks with its annual country concert giveaway.

This year, KLLL's headliner is Jerrod Niemann. After being enchanted during his first introduction, Higgs had no trouble convincing the station that pretty, 14-year-old Kelsey K. would make a dynamic opener.

Other shows confirmed at the fair include KMMX-FM landing the hot pop sounds of MKTO, and 98 Kool looking forward to providing a big show by a big band, Blood, Sweat & Tears,

Then came the shocker.

Another strong competitor at the fair has been FM radio station KXTQ, better known to listeners as Magic 93.7. Magic had sponsored concerts Tejano acts for 24 years, from 1989 through last year.

Higgs did not see this bullet coming.

He initially reported, "Our (traditional) sponsor for the Hispanic show decided to not participate.

"We did approach another (Hispanic station) but, although they showed interest, they did not feel they could do it in 2014."

Higgs eventually would call it the "fair's decision" to skip a Hispanic act, but he was running out of time.

As he put it, "We were left with no effective way to distribute tickets (for a Hispanic show).

"So we picked up a classic rock act instead."

That would be 38 Special, whose appearance will be sponsored by KONE-FM (Rock 101).

The fair's coliseum will be dark (no concerts) on the opening Friday and closing Saturday this year. One can sense Higgs almost asking, "So what?"

He learned very early in the fair business that Fridays and Saturdays traditionally are days with the highest attendance. The fair simply does not need to spend money to lure crowds on those days.

In the meantime, families enjoy hypnotists making their neighbors do silly things, and children enjoy watching live bears and tigers being put through their paces.

As for Higgs, I swear he said he has a great time watching the goats.

With tongue perhaps firmly in cheek, he stated, "Goats are actually cute.

"Sheep are not. But goats are."

william.kerns@lubbockonline.com

--766-8712

Follow William on Twitter

@AJ_WilliamKerns

INFOBOX -- FAIR ACTS

*Saturday, Sept. 20, Bobby V

Hip-hop and R&B recording artist Bobby V will appear in concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle South Plains Fairgrounds. There is no admission charge for the concert.

KBTE Radio (The Beat, 104.9 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-2328 for more details.

--Monday, Sept. 22,

Jerrod Niemann and Kelsey K.CQ

Country recording artist Jerrod Nieman will appear in concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle-South Plains Fair. Kelsey K, a teenaged country recording artist, will open with her own songs. There is no admission charge for the concert.

KLLL Radio (K-Triple-L, 96.3 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-5555 for more details.

--Tuesday, Sept. 23, 38 Special.

Classic rock act 38 Special will headline a concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle South Plains Fairgrounds. There is no admission charge for the concert.

KONE Radio (Rock 101, 101.1 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-5000 for more details.

--Wednesday, Sept. 24, MKTO.

Pop recording duo MKTO, which stands for Malcolm Kelly and Tony Oller, will appear in concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle-South Plains Fair. There is no admission charge for the concert.

KMMX Radio (Mix 100, 100.3 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-5649 for more details.

--Thursday, Sept. 25, Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Blood, Sweat & Tears will perform its oldies jazz-rock, pop-rock, R&B and psychedelic rock at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle-South Plains Fair. There is no admission charge for the concert.

Radio station KKCL (98 Kool, 98.1 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-5371 for more details.

--Friday, Sept. 26, Joe.

Hip-hop and R&B recording artist Joe will appear in concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum at the Panhandle South Plains Fairgrounds. There is no admission charge for the concert.

KBTE Radio (The Beat, 104.9 FM), the show's sponsor, will announce where free tickets will be distributed. Call 770-2328 for more details.

___

(c)2014 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)

Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com

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Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX)


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