Country Tour Takes Venue On The Road

This appeared in the Nashville City Paper - July 11, 2003

As country singers Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard begin their Electric Barnyard Tour around the country this week, they won’t have to book concert halls — they’ll be taking their own portable venue with them.

A 21st century high-tech version of the old traveling tent shows, the Extreme Mobile Venue comes complete with an arena-size stage that unfolds from a truck and a 10,000-seat amphitheater set up under series of tents the size of a football field.

The product is the latest venture of 1-2-3 Entertainment, a recently formed holding company in Franklin that also controls Inpop Records and First Company Management, companies that operate mostly within the Christian music industry.

First Company Management, an artist management firm, developed the Extreme Mobile Venue over the past two years and tested it out on the Festival Con Dios, a Christian music tour headlined by its client, the Newsboys.

The mobile venue was so successful, that 1-2-3 Entertainment decided to form a separate company, Outside Events, to promote the product beyond the Christian music market, said Dave Wagner, the new company’s general manager.

“Now we want to take this venue to the outside world to a whole new level. It is a viable venue for today’s artists to be able to play in,” he said.

The Electric Barnyard Tour, which plays this week in Southern California, is a partnership between 1-2-3 Entertainment and Stuart, who developed the brand. The tour also features BR-549, Connie Smith, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage and The Old Crow Medicine Show.

Outside Events was established about three months ago to manage, book, design and market touring properties and portable concert venues. It also includes a Creative Audio and Light division and a business development group. Wagner said with the addition of the new company, 1-2-3 Entertainment will eventually ramp up to about 25 employees, from the current 15 to 20.

About the same Outside Events was formed, 1-2-3 Entertainment also purchased the Sunshine Festival, a Christian music annual event in Willmar, Minn., that draws about 16,000 people a year, Wagner said.

By Chris Lewis

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