Planning Lucinda Williams concert no walk in the park for Thumper Entertainment

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 3:32 p.m. CDT; updated 4:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Lucinda Williams will be performing at Stephens Lake Park on July 24. This event is the first of its kind at this location. The layout of the event is shown below.

COLUMBIA — Local event organizers have waited three years to bring singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams to Columbia.

Now, after gaining final City Council approval, Thumper Entertainment can move forward with its concert planned for Tuesday at Stephens Lake Park, featuring Williams and opening act Amy Cook.


WHAT: Lucinda Williams @SLP

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Stephens Lake Park

TICKETS: $28-$48 through The Blue Note

On Monday, the council approved a resolution that solidified Thumper's plans for parking, site layout, alcohol sales, portable toilets, traffic management, insurance, sound, signage, fees and clean up. 

Among the resolution's provisions:

  • Fans will be encouraged to park at the garage at Fifth and Walnut streets. Shuttles will run between the park and garage every 10 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m. until the event ends.
  • Fans can purchase beer, wine and various non-alcoholic beverages. 
  • There will be a free water-refilling stations. The first 1,500 fans will receive a complimentary cup branded with the @SLP — at Stephens Lake Park — label.
  • Misting stations around the event will help fans cool off.

Although it's not as ambitious as Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ — which Thumper also stages — it still takes time, effort and ongoing negotiations to put together a strategy for a concert in a public park, said Thumper Entertainment President Betsy Farris.

"It takes years to develop credibility," Farris said. "We are working long term to make Columbia a better place."

The goal is to establish a venue and create an experience under the @SLP name, said festival director Jessica Brown. Farris said the company envisions a series of similar events next summer.

"The artist will change but it is the experience of Stephens Lake Park that is going to draw people in," Brown said. "There is nothing better than a hot summer night, laying out a blanket, drinking a beer with your friends and listening to live music as the sun goes down."

Choosing an artist

Lucinda Williams was always on Thumper's artist wish list, said Richard King, a co-owner of the entertainment company. The tricky part was matching the artist's tour dates and locations with possible event dates.

"We all wanted to make sure it was special and it was an artist that meant a lot to us in terms of what that artist has accomplished and just the type of music," he said.

With a target audience of adults ages 25 to 54, event organizers decided that Williams would be an excellent choice because of her broad appeal, Farris said.

The singer-songwriter, 59, has built a diverse music career by dipping into rock, folk, blues and country. Her breakthrough album was "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" in 1998.

Austin-based blues-rock singer Amy Cook is opening for Williams on her tour this summer.

"We want to appeal to music lovers," King said. "That could be the 45-year-old dad turning his 15 to 16 year old kid on to Lucinda's music. That's who we are trying to hit."

Ticket pricing and sales

Thumper not only had to land an artist, but also had to choose the right ticket pricing, marketing strategy and various other production factors, Farris said.

Tickets to the concert are $28 for general admission and $48 for VIP seating. The tickets can be purchased through The Blue Note's website,  at all mid-Missouri Walgreens stores and online at Student tickets are available at the MSA/GPC Box Office.

Thumper estimates that between 1,500 and 2,000 tickets will be sold, which Farris described as a manageable number.

The company has been working with Bucket Media to promote the concert via Facebook, Cumulus Radio and 102.3 BXR, Brown said.

"Another key marketing tool is Lucinda herself," King said. "She has a pretty broad fan base, and their folks will be making sure that all her fans are well informed about her whereabouts."

Promoting sustainability

Thumper is also working to build an event series that promotes sustainability by encouraging ticket holders to walk or ride their bikes to the park and providing free space from 6 to 8 p.m. for businesses that can educate the public about sustainability. Vendors are encouraged to use compostable items.

"It's in a central location so it's an easy way to jump on your bike or to walk," Farris said. "We are going to have bike parking set aside for the fans."

Although Farris predicts Williams' fans to be a low-key audience, a security staff of 10 will be on hand.

"When you have an artist like Lucinda you don't anticipate a whole lot of problems in terms of security issues," King said. "As long as we do our job, it will be OK." 

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