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Organizers counting down until Big and Rich, Wilson concert

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello | BDN
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello | BDN
Kenny Alphin (left) and John Rich of 'Big and Rich' arrive at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3. The duo will perform with Gretchen Wilson in Caribou on Aug. 20.
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

CARIBOU, Maine — With a week to go until three well-known Country acts put on a concert in Aroostook County, organizers are making a final push to sell tickets to the event.

On Aug. 20, country music star attractions Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy will come to Caribou for a benefit concert to help feed the hungry in Aroostook.

The Xtreme Muzik Tour, reuniting Wilson with former tour partners and duo John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin, has added Caribou’s Spud Speedway to its list of stops this summer. John Swanberg, president of Aroostook Savings and Loan, presented the idea of the concert to the bank’s board and to Catholic Charities of Maine, and everyone quickly jumped on board.

One hundred percent of the profits from ticket sales and 50 percent of food and drink sale profits will go to Catholic Charities’ Feed the County campaign to raise money and hunger awareness in northern Maine. Swanberg hopes to raise $75,000 or more.

“We have been working hard on this, and preparations have been going really well,” Swanberg said earlier this week.

“Ticket sales are on track with what he had hoped to sell so far, and we are hearing that there are people out there who are going to buy their tickets next week or when they get to the event,” she said.

Tickets for the show, which went on sale April 15, are available online at: www.spud-speedway.com.

They also can be purchased at Aroostook Savings and Loan branch locations in Caribou and Presque Isle and at the Catholic Charities of Maine location on Old Van Buren Road. Prices are $54.50 prior to the concert and $59.50 the day of the show.

Dixie Shaw is the program director of CCM’s Home Supplies and Food Bank, the central food bank and warehouse for Aroostook County, which serves 24 food pantries across the region.

Shaw said this concert is the biggest fundraiser CCM has ever had. Proceeds from the concert will not only help to keep people fed but will also go toward opening a much needed second store, she said.

This is the first time Big & Rich has toured in three years, as the group went on hiatus during Alphin’s recovery from a longtime neck injury. The duo has released three albums with hit songs “Lost in this Moment,” “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” “Comin’ to Your City,” “Wild West Show,” “Holy Water” and “Never Mind Me.” Wilson won a Grammy for “Redneck Woman” and has four albums with five total top-10 singles to her credit, including “Here for the Party,” “When I Think About Cheatin’,” “Homewrecker” and “All Jacked Up.”

Swanberg said he has heard that a number of people are planning to buy their tickets next week or on the day of the event. He is hopeful that people will buy as early as possible so organizers can have adequate amenities set up. Since the concert was announced, organizers have added the Kelly Parker Band to the lineup of musicians. Parker grew up in Washburn, according to Swanberg, and has opened for country singer Miranda Lambert in the past.

A number of local acts will be performing during the music festival.

“We have a good show ready for people, and we are very excited to welcome these acts to Aroostook County,” said Swanberg.

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