Sounding at times like a repentant preacher and at others like boxing’s Don King, businessman and promoter Ronnie Gilley never stops dreaming big.
He didn’t announce a Bama Jam lineup for this summer. Instead, he announced 10 of them at the Bama Slam Saloon in New Brockton on Wednesday afternoon, and said he’s got acts from Black Stone Cherry and Puddle of Mudd to Lee Greenwood to Dwight Yoakam to Nelly, yes, Nelly, booked for shows this spring.
“Everybody has been blowing me up. ‘When’s Bama Jam coming back? When’s Bama Jam coming back,’” Gilley said. “Bama Jam will probably be back in 2021, ’22 at the latest. But let me tell you, what we’ve got right now, in my opinion, is much greater than Bama Jam.
“We’re going to host 10 outdoor events this year. Seven of those we expect will be about 8,000-10,000 people for those shows. We’re going to build a concert (stage) down here on the beach area. Three of those shows will be at the main Bama Jam stage and will be basically equivalent to a Bama Jam (about 40,000-50,000). There are going to be three of them.”
That’s not all. Gilley announced further development on his Timbuktu property, a 1,600-acre parcel on land adjacent to Bama Jam.
“In the spring, the water park will be back open. All the slide features that were torn down and destroyed when I left, all that will be back and more,” he said. “The lake is going to host many, many features — jet ski rentals, we’ll have the jet-propelled where you fly in the air with the jet pack, canoes, paddle boards, you name it.
“We’re going to have all kinds of water features here. We’re going to host two major fishing tournaments here, where we have celebrity guests come and partake in those ventures. There’s much, much, much to look forward to at this project in Timbuktu in 2020.”
Wednesday was more about the music and the a partial lineup of this season’s concerts.
“The first one will be in April. It’s one I’m really excited about on the 17th of April,” Gilley said. “Rock N Country is what we’re going to call it. A few of the artists — and there will be more involved — but the ones we’re going to announce today, we’ve got Black Stone Cherry on Friday night, Puddle of Mudd on Friday night and Collective Soul on Friday night.
“On Saturday we have a multitude of up-and-coming country acts. We have Michael Ray and one of my all-time favorites who puts on an unbelievable show, Dwight Yoakam. We anticipate 10,000-20,000 coming to this event.”
“The very next month, in May, on Memorial Day weekend, on Thursday night we’ll have a major country music act on the stage. We’ll announce that in the next few days. On Friday we have Mitchell Tenpenny. On Saturday night, by popular demand … Brett Young.
“Sunday we wanted to mix it up a little bit. Another one of my favorites. I’m multi-cultural and I love every genre of music. But on Sunday will be Nelly. We expect a Bama Jam-type crowd here, I think somewhere in the 40,000-50,000 range that will come in.”
The promoter said the major shows will on Memorial Day, July 4 and on one of the June dates.
“Memorial Day weekend, another one I’m proud of and is American to the bone is Lee Greenwood,” Gilley said. “We’ve got Mitchell Tenpenny, Brett Young, Nelly and Lee Greenwood will be here also. We recorded a Christmas album with Lee at our venture at Country Crossing. He was a pleasure to work with and what a proud American and great guy he is.”
Gilley stressed he wants to create value for the customer. The April 17 concert, he said a weekend pass for the concerts, the water park, everything, is $75.
“Compare that, please, to any other music festival, other concert venues for that matter,” Gilley said. “You’re going to see 10, 20 artists out here for $75. A one-day pass is $49. Compare that. It’s half price.
“We want to bring value to the table so people will want to drive in from all over. We want every class of people in here. Our objective is to simply break the status quo of how business is done in Alabama. We want to be something special, unique and different.”