Arny Granat and Jerry Mickelson, partners in Chicago-based Jam Productions, have joined Nashville-based promoter Outback Concerts as equal shareholders. Granat and Mickelson will continue to run Jam P

Arny Granat and Jerry Mickelson, partners in Chicago-based Jam Productions, have joined Nashville-based promoter Outback Concerts as equal shareholders. Granat and Mickelson will continue to run Jam Productions, Jam Theatricals and other subsidiaries; both Jam and Outback will continue to promote under their respective banners.

A Chicago entertainment fixture for 30 years, Jam ranked sixth among all promoters in 2005, and first among independent promoters, according to Billboard Boxscore. Outback was ranked 11th among all promoters worldwide in 2005, and had moved into the top 10 by mid-year 2006.

“We’ve gone from a two person office to 21 employees and growth beyond our wildest dreams,” Mike Smardak, president/CEO of Outback, tells Billboard.biz. “And the truth of the matter is we reached the point in the concert business—which we’re incredibly bullish about—where it was time to find somebody with a shared vision so we can move forward with the synergy we felt Jam has to offer us.”

How Jam and Outback will work together is still developing, Smardak says. "We’re going to utilize all our assets the best we can,” he says. “We’re going to continue to operate with our personnel and the way we do business, and any way we can find that we can utilize the services of Arny and Jerry and the guys in Chicago, we will to the fullest.”

Asked if Jam and Outback would buy entire tours together, Smardak responds, “I think you can look forward to that.”

Founded in 1997 by Smardak, Outback Concerts promoted the successful "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" and the Larry the Cable Guy national tour. Recent concerts promoted by Outback include Dierks Bentley, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul II, and Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.

“We have great people here, and these two companies have similar philosophies: staunch independents, proud to be independent, we work with everybody,” says Smardak. “It will be business as usual, but we’re really bullish about our future.”