In 2013, three-time Grammy nominated Dailey & Vincent launched LandFest, their own music festival in Denton, N.C. By 2017, in need of a larger venue, they relocated to The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga.
“By year three, we had to raise the big doors at Hiawassee, which opened up to outdoor space. We noticed the lawn was completely full of chairs and there wasn’t any more room left for any more ticket buyers. We knew then it was time to grow,” the group’s Jamie Dailey tells Billboard.
Instead of relocating yet again, Dailey and his musical partner Darrin Vincent are taking a big step forward with the flagship three-day festival, expanding to five festivals in four locations this year and rebranding the series as The American Made Music Festival series.
The first festival launches June 10-11 at Sand Mountain Amphitheatre in Albertville, Ala. Four festivals follow on Sept. 15-17 (The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga.), Oct. 7-8 (The Jackson County Airport in Gainesboro, Tenn.), Nov. 11-12 (Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, W. Va.), and Dec. 2-3 (a return to The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga., as part of ChristmasFest). The group worked with their management company, APEX Entertainment Management, to create the festival series, which is presented by Springer Mountain Farms. The estimated attendance for the festivals ranges from 2,500 to approximately 6,000 people.
Bluegrass music is a genre that pairs perfectly with music festivals, with a history of artist-hosted festivals. The “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Music Festival started in the mid-1960s. Dr. Ralph Stanley launched the Hills of Home Bluegrass Festival in 1970. Last year marked the 41st annual Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival. In honor of the late Earl Scruggs, the Earl Scruggs Music Festival is planned to debut in September. These are in addition to numerous other long-running bluegrass fests, among them Telluride Bluegrass Festival, RockyGrass, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Festival of the Bluegrass, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s IBMA Fan Fest, and more.
Dailey & Vincent’s American Made Music Festival series will stay in the South, for now.
“We have played all over the world and we appreciate our fans from everywhere,” Dailey says. “But we knew cranking up these festivals closer to our home base would be easier for us to manage by way of traveling to or from quickly if needed. We are looking at spaces out west and up North, and hopefully we will announce some of those in the future.”
Dailey & Vincent, along with their manager, APEX Entertainment Management’s Zac Koffler, were strategic in selecting each festival venue. Vincent credits Romeo Entertainment Group’s R.J. Romeo with mentioning Albertville’s Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater location as an option to Koffler. Last year, they added a festival in Dailey’s hometown of Gainesboro, Tenn. at the Jackson County Airport, and return to that location this year.
“How cool is it that we get to host a festival on an airport runway?” Vincent says.
While companies such as Live Nation and AEG dominate the music festival space, the group is carving out a niche slate of festivals catering to fans of country, gospel and bluegrass.
“We have a high respect for those companies, but I do believe we are creating our own lane with more traditional music and entertainment-based festivals,” Vincent says.
The slate of festivals further enhances a multi-faceted brand the group has been building for over a decade, since their fierce breakthrough year with their self-titled debut album in 2008 (at that year’s IBMA Awards, they went from new artist of the year winners to coveted entertainer of the year winners in the span of one awards ceremony, taking home seven wins during the evening).
Since then, they’ve landed six No. 1 albums on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart, earned three Grammy nominations across country and bluegrass categories, won four Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. They’ve also made their foray into television, both as the focus on a PBS live concert special, and with their three-time Emmy-nominated The Dailey & Vincent Show. The weekly show, which launched in 2015, airs on Circle Network and highlights a mix of country, bluegrass and gospel artists. Musically, they have continually branched out, releasing a gospel album in 2012 and their first Christmas album in 2018.
Dailey & Vincent take a similar cross-genre approach to curating the performances for each festival. Across the five festivals, fans can expect country performers including Josh Turner, Martina McBride, Gene Watson, Diamond Rio and former Statler Brothers vocalist Jimmy Fortune (in 2010, Dailey & Vincent released an album of Statler Brothers songs), as well as groups The Isaacs and Primitive Quartet, bluegrass/country entertainer Bradley Walker and more. In a nod to their relationship with the Opry, at least one festival lineup includes an Opry tribute performance, with more artists to be announced soon.
“Bringing a broad range of talent to our festivals is a balancing act,” Vincent says. “Working with our friends and fellow Grand Ole Opry family is not only good for the consumer, but good and fun for us. It’s very tough programming our festivals, and we lean on our partners for guidance and wisdom when picking out a talent lineup.”
And though the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged music tours and festivals of all sizes, Dailey & Vincent and their team have moved forward with curating the festivals, including last year’s events in Hiawassee, Ga., and in Gainesboro, Tenn. The venues were sanitized and hand washing stations were placed throughout for attendees.
“Masks were not required, but if you felt the need to wear one, it was at your discretion. We did our part in not having meet-and-greets or autograph signings, and kept backstage access to a bare minimum,” Vincent says. “People in general are pretty cautious. In our organization, if you’re feeling sick or have a fever, we ask that you stay home. I know there were a few folks with existing health issues and chose not to come, and we feel that’s a smart choice.”
“We encourage everyone who attends our festivals to use their own caution and to take all necessary steps they believe will help keep them safe,” Dailey says.
Looking ahead, they hope to add additional festivals over the next five years or so.
“At this point five is a lot, but we would like to grow it to six or seven, moving toward the southwest with a couple,” Vincent says.
And the long-term goal?
“I would like for us to top out at around 25 or so,” Dailey says.