"I'm extremely excited about it," he stated. "Watershed is an idea that we have been kicking around for a number of years. The Pacific Northwest is a real special place in our country. I've been doing shows up there at the Gorge for years, and Jeff Trisler, my partner at Live Nation and I got to talking about it, and we finally made the call six to eight months ago. I think it will be one of the most unique festivals that we have. We're not trying to be anything more than Watershed. It's going to have its' own unique signature. It's got the beauty of the Gorge, and the Columbia River. It's something that can't be duplicated anywhere else."
The lineup for Watershed is a pretty impressive one. Current superstars Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Dierks Bentley will be among the headliners, with appearances also scheduled by performers such as Brantley Gilbert, Tracy Lawrence, Dwight Yoakam, Kix Brooks, Sara Evans, and Thompson Square.
Three-day festival passes go on sale May 5th at Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com.
O'Connell says he hopes attendees will feel a sense of unity. "The idea of the festival is about community and gathering, and Country Music is a community. There are many other festivals out there, but nothing quite like the inherent beauty of Watershed," he said.
The fans are very much a part of the festival, even down to some of the planning that has taken place, O'Connell admits.
"It's about them. My goal is to give the fans what they want. We're building this with their input through Twitter and Facebook. It's a music festival, and it's a camping festival. We'll provide all that, and the fans are going to do the rest of the work. I want them to go to a place and be able to afford it. We want them to build their own festival."
At only $90 for a three-day pass, O'Connell feels that the experience is one that fans can enjoy without having to worry too much about the checkbook. "The idea is affordability and accessibility," he says. "My goal is to put a festival out there that will stand the test of the time long after I'm gone and that it will still be a part of the fabric of the Pacific Northwest."
"In the storied 25 year history of The Gorge, we've been fortunate to host many of the nation's top country artists, but all have been single day concerts," said Jeff Trisler, President of Live Nation Seattle. "For years, we've wanted to host a multiple day country festival that builds on the tremendous success for our annual Sasquatch! Music Festival and Dave Matthews Band residency. We believe this event will bring that same sort of excitement and energy to The Gorge for an entirely new group of music fans."