Big night in IOW

Published 12:01 pm Saturday, September 15, 2012

by Stephen H. Cowles/Contributing Writer

ISLE OF WIGHT—Country music giant Tracy Lawrence will take the main stage of the Isle of Wight County Fair at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.

The concert is included with the $5 fair admission ticket.

“We’re hoping for a good 20,000 on Saturday night,” said Fair Coordinator Darlene Keyt. “There’s satellite parking, and the grounds are in good shape. We’ve got great support from the Central Hill Hunt Club, as well as law enforcement from Smithfield, Windsor, the county and state troopers. The fair committee has done a fantastic job so far.”

She was thrilled with Thursday’s, record-breaking attendance of 2,800 for Carload Night.

“The biggest number in the past has been in the 1,900 range,” she said.

Keyt expects to reach goals for attendance this year.

“Overall, it’s 35,000, but we’re hoping to exceed that and get 40,000, thanks to the weather,” she said.

Getting Lawrence — a former Country Artist of the Year — took effort.

Stan Murrell, chairman of the main stage committee, said when it comes to rounding up acts such as Lawrence, they get started the first of the year.

“It takes about nine months of getting somebody into a schedule and budget,” Murrell said.

The decision to seek out Lawrence was a group effort.

“I have a committee and we discuss what we think would be a big draw and what we could afford,” said Murrell. “We’re always watching the charts, and think who’s doing well, who’s a mainstay.”

He noted that Lawrence has had several hits on the country charts since the early 1990s.

The 44-year-old Austin,Texas, native is promoting his latest album, “The Singer.” He co-wrote six of the new songs and co-produced the album.

Lawrence burst on the scene with 1991’s Platinum-selling “Sticks and Stones.” The album contained four hits, including its title tune. “Alibis” issued in 1993 sold more than two million copies and spawned four consecutive No. 1 hits, “Alibis,” “Can’t Break it to My Heart,” “My Second Home” and “If the Good Die Young.”

His journey as a record producer began with 1993’s “Renegades, Rebels and Rogues” from the soundtrack of the movie “Maverick.” His Platinum-selling 1994 CD “I See it Now” had three self-produced songs.

Lawrence was Billboard’s Top New Male Vocalist in 1992. The following year, he was named New Country Artist of the Year, and the Academy of Country Music honored him as Top New Male Vocalist.