Alabama, Sam Hunt, Hank Williams Jr. & More Lined Up for Alabama's Toadlick Fest


Randy Houser, Lee Brice, Bret Michaels & Styx are also on the bill for April 23-25 event.

The latter part of winter has been quite brutal for many places in the South, but come April 23-25, most of that will be very much forgotten, as the Toadlick Music Festival will be held in Dothan, Ala. Among the lineup includes longtime Poison frontman Bret Michaels, Styx, and rising country performers Sam Hunt, Randy Houser and Lee Brice. Also on the bill for the three-day music festival are Country Music Hall of Fame members Alabama and Ronnie Milsap, in addition to the legendary Hank Williams Jr.

According to festival organizer Chris Gilbert, he and his staff seem to have come up with what equals a winning formula. "This is our fourth year, which is pretty impressive in its own right for a music festival. It's just an idea that we had a few years ago, and we just decided to do it. We love all kinds of music and love outdoor festivals, and just decided to give it our best shot," he told Billboard.

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What has been the secret to keeping the festival going strong? "We've been able to pay our bills, and we've kept people happy. Everybody that comes to the festival comes back, and that ensures the growth that we've seen each year. That's what you want to see. You want to get bigger and better, and that's what we've done. A lot of festivals come and go, and it can be overwhelming, but we've been able to do those things which are so important. Anybody can make a business plan look good on paper, but to get out there and do it in today's market is tough. You have to keep your nose to the grindstone and have the drive and determination to make it happen. It's not for the faint of heart, I promise you."

Keeping things affordable is also a plus, stresses Gilbert. "Let's face it: Money is tight. It's hard for a family to come out to these things for three or four days and spend the kind of money that they are demanding. But we try to keep it affordable. We're not going to hound you for every five or 10 dollars once you get here. We're going to do our best to put on one heck of a show and to entertain you."

To have two legends on the bill such as Williams and the band that claims the state as home also is an added benefit. "That's a big deal -- to land Alabama, especially where we live. They are a mainstay in this area for a long time, along with Hank Williams Jr. We've got some of the legends and some of the biggest newcomers, like Sam Hunt, who is on fire, as well as Lee Brice. We've really tried to cover the spectrum."

Alabama's Jeff Cook said playing the event takes him and his cousins back in time. "It reminds me so much of the June Jam days. We used to have a lot of acts with us for that, and it was definitely a lot of fun. We've always enjoyed playing those festivals."

He admits that whether an inside or outside venue, you've got to bring you're A-game. "It doesn't change any of the chords that I play. I still have to concentrate on what is going on. A show is a show. You still have the excitement." Cook also shared some news with Billboard about a new Alabama project. "We're working right now on a new country album. We don't have a name for it yet, but we're looking forward to that. We're still looking for songs."

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