Major rock and country festivals take place throughout the summer in Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Eau Claire, Wis., and other spots in the Upper Midwest. Add Shakopee to that list for 2019.
TC Summer Jam, a splashy new outdoor country-and-rock festival, is set for July 18-20 at Canterbury Park, with Nashville superstar Tim McGraw as one of its headliners — and investors.
“We’re mashing it up — country and rock on the same day. It’s going to be a full-on special experience,” said TC Summer Jam general manager Lauren MacLeash, a former longtime radio programmer at Twin Cities stations BUZ’N 102.9 and Cities 97. “We’re reflecting the Twin Cities. Fans listen to a lot of different music. That’s one of the changing things with social media and with streaming and all the opportunities to find music now.”
TC Summer Jam will be the first big-time multiday music festival in the metro area since 2012 when mega-promoter Live Nation’s ambitious River’s Edge Music Fest, with Dave Matthews Band and Tool, disappeared after only one year at Harriet Island in St. Paul.
A little known promoter, Jerry Braam, founder of the Lakes Jam fest in Brainerd, is the CEO of the new festival. He hatched the idea with Chris Hawkey, KFAN Radio personality by day and country-and-rock singer by night who has performed regularly at Lakes Jam.
McGraw has “an interest” in the new endeavor as does Snap Fitness founder and CEO Peter Taunton, who teamed with McGraw on Sunday for a benefit on Lake Minnetonka.
The 10-acre infield of Canterbury’s racetrack can accommodate up to 30,000 people, MacLeash said. Promoters are hoping for 15,000 per day for their first fest.
There will be VIP and lawn-chair seating as well as general admission. Concertgoers will have access to the Canterbury grandstand with its restrooms and air conditioning. Camping spots for RVs will be available. About 2,000 hotel rooms are located within five miles of the site, according to MacLeash.
Braam founded the modest Lakes Jam six years ago at the Brainerd International Raceway. This June’s festival featured veteran rocker George Thorogood and mid-level country stars Brantley Gilbert and Locash. Braam sold his interest in that venture a couple of years ago.
Canterbury’s infield has been the site of several daylong music events over the years.
Most recently, from 2014-16, Trampled By Turtles, the bluegrassy band from Duluth, curated the hipster indie-rock Festival Palomino, featuring themselves, Father John Misty and Dr. Dog. Peak attendance was about 10,000.
Much more popular was Lilith Fair, the groundbreaking all-female festival that drew an average of 28,000 people for its three years — 1997-99 — at Canterbury, starring the Dixie Chicks, Indigo Girls and founder Sarah McLachlan.
Festivals in Canterbury’s infield were pioneered by radio stations in the then-Clear Channel chain (now iHeart Media). From 1998-2003, various stations — usually K102, KDWB and Cities 97, plus an oldies outlet one year — organized shows on consecutive weekend days.
K102’s Fan Jam marathons spotlighted the likes of Travis Tritt, Brad Paisley and McGraw. KDWB’s multi-act Last Chance Summer Dance showcased such hot hitmakers as Jay-Z, O-Town and Destiny’s Child, while Cities 97’s Concert in the Park presented such favorites as Barenaked Ladies, Sheryl Crow and BoDeans. The top attendance for those concerts was 28,000.
TC Summer Jam has chosen a music-crowded weekend for its inaugural event. Those are the same dates of two long-established, camping-oriented festivals about two hours away in Wisconsin: Rock Fest, offering veteran rock bands in Cadott, and Country Jam USA in Eau Claire, starring Blake Shelton, Alabama and Billy Currington in 2019.
“We’re aware of that,” MacLeash said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re not just going full in with one genre of music. And we’re within the metro.”
On Aug. 20, the new festival will launch its website, tcsummerjam.com, with more details. MacLeash said the full talent lineup of 12 acts will be announced later this year.