Jamming a new way in Kinnick


(The Daily Iowan/Anthony Vazquez

Personnel set up the stage in preparation for this weekend's Black Porch Revival Concert In Kinnick Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The concert will have Blake Shelton as the headlining act and serves as a fundraiser for the Native Fund. (The Daily Iowan/Anthony Vazquez)

Country music is heading to Iowa City in a big way — the first-ever concert held at Kinnick is a kick-start to The Native Fund.

By Grace Pateras 

[email protected]

Saturday, a Kinnick record will be set — and not in football statistics.

Iowans will be in the stands and on the field for the first concert, The Back Porch Revival, ever to be held in the stadium.

With Blake Shelton as the headliner, openers starting at 3 p.m. include Hunter Smith Band, David Ray, Morgan Frazier, Tucker Beathard, Big & Rich, and Thomas Rhett.

Officials said they didn’t know why a concert has never been held in Kinnick, but it wouldn’t have happened without former Hawkeye football star, and recently retired NFL player, Dallas Clark.

Clark, who grew up in Livermore, Iowa, came up with a plan to raise funds and awareness for natural disasters in the state, which, he said, have a history of not getting attention. Actor Ashton Kutcher, a Cedar Rapids native, joined him in the organization, which is called The Native Fund.

“When the tornado wiped out Parkersburg, and then Cedar Rapids with that flood, I was out in Indy playing football feeling helpless, so that’s where I got the idea of The Native Fund of Iowans helping Iowans,” Clark said over the phone.

Though this idea came about five years ago, he was too busy with football to fully commit to making it happen. After retiring in 2014, he said, he had enough time to work on the project.

“Whatever is made after all the expenses, the money is going to The Native Fund, and then our wheels will be in motion, and we’ll figure it out as a board to see how our impact is going to be made, and that’s the exciting part,” Clark said. “This concert is one night, one day of awesomeness, but what’s really exciting is we hope we raise a ton of money.”

Gil Cunningham, the president of Neste Event Marketing near Nashville, Tennessee, worked with Clark and others to find talent for the show.


When it came to the lineup, Clark said, he thought the country genre would be the most fitting for Iowans. From there, it became a bit of a process.

“Sticking in that genre, you have a handful — literally just a handful — of artists who can fill a stadium, so you’re kind of limited already,” he said. “Then you got schedules and tours and all that stuff, so your wish list can be whatever it wants, but then reality comes in and the business side comes in. Now, it’s a formulated plan on what makes the most sense.”

The idea of The Back Porch Revival was proposed to different artists, and Cunningham said Shelton liked the idea. Luckily, scheduling worked out, and the show was announced almost a year in advance. Cunningham said that helped spark interest and ticket sales, while organizers continued to figure out the rest of the lineup.

“[Shelton’s] songs, his music, his personality, just really vibes and connects with Iowa people,” Clark said. “That’s why when he agreed to do this, I was like, ‘Man, this is a home run.’ ”

From a business standpoint, Cunningham said, Iowa City is thought to be in the Cedar Rapids area, a secondary market. To book a stadium show in a venue that has no experience is a big red flag for acts, which is what made those who agreed to perform so special to those in charge of the event.

But promoters and others involved in producing the show are determined to prove something like this is possible.

Production was more complicated because Kinnick was built in 1929, well before stadium concert tours became popular, or even heard of. The setup had to be done by renting out cranes to lift equipment over the stadium seats.

“This posts some logistical problems because there’s no access to get to the field,” Cunningham said. “Typically, for a stadium show, you have to drive semis down to the field and unload them. Well, the University of Iowa’s Nile Kinnick Stadium doesn’t have that capability. So they literally have to bring in these cranes and lift everything into the stadium.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 12.59.05 AM

In addition, the UI Athletics Department is preparing for the first football game of the season next week, which added more challenges.

The theme of Iowans helping Iowans, The Native Fund’s slogan, stays true — everyone involved in the project is connected to Iowa, including Neste Events, which promotes America’s River Festival every year in Dubuque.

The UI administration also played a large role in making the show possible.

The show is not a university event, though parking, security, facilities, police, emergency personnel, the ticket office, and other departments are being rented for this “monster production,” Associate Athletics Director Mark Jennings said.

“The cooperation from every corner of the University of Iowa have been outstanding since Day 1,” he said. “Every place we went on this campus, whether it was the university hospitals, or the presidents or VPs in charge of different areas, everyone wanted this to happen because of the cause, The Native Fund. The money that is raised through this concert is going to help Iowans in need. It’s such a great cause, everyone’s been behind it from the start.”

Roughly 40,000 tickets have been sold as of Thursday, and 15,000 are still available for purchase.

Clark said thoughts of the next event aren’t on his mind at the moment, but this is just the beginning for The Native Fund.

“Something I’ve been thinking about … [is] I really hope I get to talk to Blake after, but I really believe that Blake isn’t going to be putting on a show for the fans; I really believe that the fans are going to put on a show for Blake,” Clark said. “The electricity and the complete environment is going to blow him away. I’m hoping I’m right, only time will tell, but it will be one of those nights down the road I’m hoping Blake remembers Kinnick Stadium and it wasn’t just a show.”

Facebook Comments