Concert series benefiting Second Harvest to begin in May

Music Feeds will utilize amphitheater in World’s Fair Park

The arrival of spring flowers and more daylight also signals the annual round of press releases detailing music festival lineups, tours and concert series that are to take place all over the country. Knoxville already boasts excellent festivals like Big Ears and Rhythm N’ Blooms, but is has been lacking with regard to an outdoor concert series since Sundown in the City folded. However, with the recent announcement of a new series scheduled for seven dates across the spring, summer and fall, that is about to change.

Second Harvest of East Tennessee will be presenting a concert series at the Tennessee Amphitheater in World’s Fair Park that will span seven Saturdays from May to October. More than just another spate of music events downtown, though, Music Feeds looks to provide the opportunity for a grand night out – complete with a food-truck dinner, drinks, live music and a downtown hotel experience. All proceeds generated by ticket sales for each show will go to help feed families all over East Tennessee. As is, Second Harvest feeds people in 18 counties spanning nearly 8,000 square miles; Music Feeds promises to boost those numbers.

Notable acts scheduled for the inaugural run of shows include The Devon Allman Project with special guest Duane Betts on May 5, Here Come the Mummies on June 2 and Hotel California, an Eagles tribute band, on Sept. 1. Second Harvest encourages guests to arrive early and indulge in delicious food-truck dishes. Patrons can enjoy beer and wine throughout the evening, as well as spirits courtesy of Sugarlands Distilling Co., one of the event sponsors. Another sponsor, Blue Bell Creameries, will have a build-your-own sundae bar on site for those with a sweet tooth.

“I think the whole idea is to make it a nice evening,” says Aaron Snukals, the development director and head of media relations for Second Harvest. “There’s no place I can think of where you can sit down outside, covered – it’s got a cover on it – and watch a show. I’m thinking we can really create something nice down there again, and I think that hopefully Knoxville will embrace it. Not only will it be a great evening, but at the end of the night, we’re also feeding a bunch of folks.”

According to the Second Harvest website, purchase of Kroger Gold Circle $350 series tickets will help provide over 1,000 meals to people in East Tennessee. The grocery chain is a primary sponsor for the event, along with Commercial Bank, Delta Dental, Miller Lite and Sea Ray. Snukals says that their generous contributions covered paying the artists, which helps Second Harvest utilize the money from ticket sales to help people in communities around East Tennessee. Ticket prices for individual shows range from $20-75. Second Harvest is extremely efficient with the donations, making sure that 96 cents from every dollar donated goes towards feeding people. One of its programs helps feed more than 13,000 children on days they can’t be fed at school, like weekends and holidays.

“Our goal with this concert series is to take the money the sponsors have given us and create more money with it,” Snukals says. “Since all the artists are paid for, virtually every ticket cost is going to go to feed people. So, if you bought a $50 ticket, that’s going to go feed 150 people. What we’re going to do is: During the intermission of every show, we’re going to tell the audience how many people that show fed.”

Second Harvest has held countless fundraisers and events throughout the years in order to help fund its mission, but Snukals says that he has had to adapt the organization’s strategies over time because he felt Second Harvest could be doing more while spending less. He explains that large events like chili cook-offs can take a lot of space, money and time to coordinate. Snukals has experience organizing concerts, having done so for The Shed at the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson dealership in Maryville prior to working with Second Harvest. Once he saw the opportunity to do so again, he knew he had to take advantage of it.

“I found out that the Tennessee Amphitheater – which hasn’t been used for a long time, as far as I know, from a concert standpoint – was sitting there empty,” Snukals says. “So, I went, ‘Hmm, this might be something that … from a risk standpoint for Second Harvest seems to make a lot more sense.’ I didn’t have to rent the park for four days. I didn’t have to rent tents, tables, chairs and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t have to bring a stage in because the stage is already there.”

Snukals adds that the stage is “humongous,” so to create a more intimate show he’s putting in a curtain to cut the stage in half. This also will enhance the acoustics in the amphitheater while getting the audience closer to the artists, especially for smaller bands like Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters in August. The amphitheater is located in the heart of World’s Fair Park (situated directly across the pond to the west of the Sunsphere), and it offers plenty of seating (capacity for up to 1,000). Attendees who buy series tickets will get the same seats every show, but single show tickets are also available on knoxvilletickets.com.

To round out the night, Second Harvest encourages concertgoers to book a stay at the Tennessean or the Holiday Inn for after the show, as a portion of the profits of certain rooms also will be donated to Second Harvest. Snukals says that the organization wants to encourage attendees to safely enjoy themselves both before and after the show on these evenings, and a hotel within walking distance goes a long way toward making that a reality.

“We’re trying to be local with everything we do; we feed local, so we’re trying to give back,” Snukals says. “Our sound company is local, our lighting company is local, all our food trucks will be local. We’re working with two local hotels owned by local folks, so we’re trying to do as much as we can to give back to the folks that have supported us. We’ve been around for 35 years, and the community has done a wonderful job of supporting us and helping us feed people. This is a chance for us to give back and spend some money with some folks who have supported us and have a great evening.”

If the community takes hold of it, Snukals is optimistic about the series’ potential for growth. He said he wanted to keep this year small and more intimate to test the waters in its first year, but he has big dreams for its future.

“I think it’s something that can have some legs that could be going longer in five or 10 years downtown,” Snukals says. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

You can find more information, lineup details and links to buy tickets at http://secondharvestetn.org/event/music-feeds-individual-shows-on-sale. You can find out more about Second Harvest and their efforts at secondharvestetn.org.

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