September 16, 2011 1:53:00 PM
Concert venues can vary between hole-in-the-wall bars to 70,000-seat stadiums. But there''s one that brings out the best in country music singer Brinley Addington.
The Tennessee native has performed in nearly every state across the southeast United States, where single-day, weekend festivals make up half of his stops.
The mix of young and old, the fresh air and hometown vibe reminds Addington of home, where he says he cut his teeth in country music by playing at family-oriented events. He expects to have his A-game when he takes the stage to headline Rockin'' the Park Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex.
"There''s a lot of great festivals in my hometown," Addington said, "and I''ve always enjoy performing for crowds like that. I''ve never performed in that part of Mississippi, so there''s a lot of people that are going to hear me for the first time. That''s exciting."
Addington will take the stage around 7 p.m. following opening acts Scarletta and C Plus. He''ll play for an hour before the fireworks show nightcap.
Rockin'' the Park begins at 3 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and children 6 and younger get in free.
Since 2007, Addington has opened for several major artists such as Marty Stuart, Jack Ingram, Gavin DeGraw, James Otto and John Michael Montgomery.
Addington has performed at Nashville''s Bluebird Cafe and New York City''s Tavern on the Green. He''s considered a burgeoning star in country music, Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye said.
"We''re really fortunate to get him," Rye said. "I think people are going to enjoy his music on Saturday."
Addington dropped his first album, "Homegrown," in May and released his first single and music video "Hang on a Farm" in August.
He''s in his early 20s, so listeners of his generation won''t get flooded with "pop country" songs that are becoming increasingly popular. Addington is organic, with influences like Alan Jackson and Randy Travis. He said his vocal roots are in church, where he developed a soulful, bluesy sound.
"Don''t get me wrong, I make music for all people to enjoy," Addington said. "So there''s lighter songs that someone who is into pop country will enjoy. But I''m shooting for the Blake Sheltons and Josh Turners of the genre. I''m traditional."
To add to the hometown atmosphere, Addington will perform "Blame it on Mississippi" with Nash Street mandolin player Caroline Melby. Addington said he and Melby wrote the narrative song together and performed it once for a small crowd in Tennessee.
"We''d talked about writing a song for a while," Addington said. "She''s a great writer and easy to work with. We didn''t write it for Rockin'' the Park, but it just worked out that she was going to be here this weekend. What better place to perform this song together?"
With all of the inflatables, children''s athletic games and classic cars that will grab everyone''s attention Saturday, the celebrity softball game is an anticipated event.
Team Wiseman, comprised of local government figures like Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Starkville Mayor Wiseman and Oktibbeha County District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard, and local pastors Joseph Stone and Larnzy Carpenter, doesn''t have the same athletic reputation of opponent Team Stricklin, led by Mississippi State Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin.
Stricklin''s team fields former college athletes turned coaches: MSU softball coach Vann Steudemman; MSU baseball coach John Cohen; and MSU soccer coach Neil Macdonald.
Sure, everyone is there to have a good time. But athlete''s and coaches care about the result.
"We''re going to go out there and have fun," Stricklin said. "Of course, we think winning is a lot of fun."
Wiseman is looking forward to the atmosphere and events that multiple entities from around Starkville worked to organize. He said he''s proud to be featured in the event but is realistic about what his stats might look like when the game is over.
"(Laughing) I''ve never been much of a ball player," Wiseman said. "The actual performance will be a bit of a struggle."
Wiseman will have one heavy hitter on his side in former Starkville High standout and current New Jersey Nets forward Travis Outlaw.
3. Ho ho ho -- Downtown Open House heralds the holidays ENTERTAINMENT