Amphitheater slated for Oct.26 Grand Opening

BLYTHEWOOD – The brand new Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union Amphitheater in Doko Meadows Park is one step closer to its slated Thursday, Oct.26 grand opening.

On Monday night, Council voted unanimously to allocate up to $30,000 from the Town’s Accommodation and Hospitality Tax funds to cover the costs of the event. The Grand Opening Committee, of which Councilmen Malcolm Gordge, Larry Griffin and Town Administrator Gary Parker are members, have been working in conjunction with MusicFarm of Columbia to secure musical acts for the opening event.

“We’ve got a pretty good guesstimate budget of $30,000,” Gordge said. “We do have an item by item listing but that’s still very much an estimate and depends very much on more detail, research and planning.”

MusicFarm will handle the lion’s share of the responsibility in setting up the performances and providing security services, while the Town of Blythewood would be responsible for additional man power to keep everything organized, Gordge said. Based on current estimates, Parker said MusicFarm will receive a $5,000 fee out of the $30,000.

The Root Doctors are the current front-runners for the big-name band on opening night, and the Committee’s hope is that they will be joined by two to three locals bands, Committee Chairman Buddy Price said. The mayor and some council members mentioned bigger musical acts such as Jimmy Buffett and ZZ Top, but costs proved to be too much of a factor.

“The headliner would be the root doctors, and we’re looking at bringing in some local folks to give kind of a local flavor to it,” Price said. “We did look at some of the big names, in fact we went after a couple you referenced, but they’re talking $150,000. It’s crazy amounts of money.”

Ross said Bravo Blythewood, which Price is a member of, was originally working with MusicFarm for an Eclipse event with a budget of $34,000, but Council asked that they switch their attentions to the grand opening ceremony. Price said MusicFarm had already presented Bravo Blythewood a budget, and based on MusicFarm’s experience with these type of events, the grand opening committee decided to retain them for the grand opening event rather than put the event management out for bid, Price said.

“Did we talk to anybody besides MusicFarm, and how did we come up with them,” Councilman Tom Utroska asked.

“As we stated before, based on interactions we already had, and they were already probably going to do the Bravo thing on eclipse night,” Councilman Larry Griffin said. “We just switched over because they were already there, they were already in house.”

During the park foundation’s last meeting, the thought was that the opening would be held on Friday, Oct. 20, Price said. But due to the Root Doctor’s availability or lack thereof, the committee was forced to move the event back six days. Parker said the Committee also shied away from Fridays and Saturdays, in fear of coinciding with the high school and college football games.

“That’s the only thing that bothers me. I know you got to do it with the band,” Ross said. “We looked at different nights with high school football that would interfere on the 20th, but it seems like this big of a thing would be on a Friday.”

The final motion allocated only up to $30,000 for the amphitheater’s grand opening ceremonies, but the particular band or organizer is not set in stone. The committee is still free to replace both the Root Doctors and MusicFarm if they wish to do so, Ross said, and encouraged them to look into other bands and management.

“Think outside the box if there’s still a chance,” Ross said. “I like the Root Doctors, but I think about what we spent for the DB Bryant band that just opened for Hank Williams JR, in Charleston, and it’s incredibly lower than what we would be paying for the Root Doctors.”