Gate City officials are hoping to encourage current and former residents to head downtown for a new musical series that officially begins this Saturday.
In an effort to showcase their downtown revitalization efforts and spur economic development, the new concert series tabbed “Kickin Back at King Alley” kicks off May 31 and continues each Friday through Aug. 22.
“We want area people to know we are offering things that would be interesting to them,” explained Gate City Mayor Frances Perry. “This allows us to showcase our town and show how it is progressing.”
It was a natural fit for the name chosen because the venue is located on King Alley at the intersection of Jackson and Kane Streets. The placement of the stage provides a straight view down Kane Street.
Because the town owns and maintains the street, they have scheduled a public hearing on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. to solicit public input on the nearly three-month long closure of the street. The meeting is being held at the Gate City Town Hall.
Musical venues selected for the series range from bluegrass, country and gospel to rock. This week’s performance also coincides with the opening of a new barbecue restaurant in Gate City.
“As an economic development committee member, our objective is to stimulate the economy,” added Vice Mayor Allan ‘Cotton’ Roberts. “We can bring something to town to show we don’t have to go out of town to enjoy some entertainment. We are trying to involve local bands and local people and hopefully will draw some new people to town that’s never been to Gate City and perhaps will enjoy our town.”
As an added benefit, Roberts hopes visitors will spend some money in town while enjoying the music, adding some tax revenues into the town’s coffers.
“This will help the businesses that are here to continue to operate and thrive,” he noted. “The thing about these events is we want to try to do more that will bring in visitors to Gate City.”
Roberts said many locals travel every day to Kingsport, Tenn. and he would like to invite residents of Kingsport to return the favor and visit the neighboring bedroom community to the north.
“We want those who have moved out of Gate City to come back for a homecoming,” he stated. “A lot of people born and raised in Gate City and Scott County have moved away and this gives them an opportunity to come back and take pride in their hometown. We’ve done a lot of work in downtown Gate City and we want to showcase it.”
Sponsored by the Gate City Arts and Music Initiative, the first performance slated for Saturday, May 31 features Clinch Mountain Mojo, a group that plays folk rock.
“The Gate City Arts and Music Initiative (GCAM) was created by the Gate City Economic Redevelopment Committee to help create different venues in Gate City to help promote our music heritage while stimulating economic development,” said Mark Freemen, chair of the Gate City Economic Development Committee. “We are excited about the new concert series and hope everyone will come to Gate City this summer and experience the intimate venue King Alley has to offer.”
Freeman, a former resident of the town, explained the site was chosen because of its visible access to the public. He also stated the site and its staging area could be used for weddings, other events or as an offsite venue for MeadowView Resort and Conference Center.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair but admission to the concert is free to all.
Limited vendor spaces are available during the weekly live performances with local businesses receiving preferential treatment for space.
“We are encouraging businesses in Gate City to take advantage of the vendor spaces that are available,” Roberts added. “Vendor spaces will be provided at no charge to businesses in Gate City. But, they are on a first come first serve basis.”
Gate City Town Manager Greg Jones suggested any business that wants a vendor space to contact the town hall.
The concert series runs from May 31 through Aug. 22 with no concert scheduled for July 4. The Gate City Block Party in conjunction with Kingsport’s FunFest is slated for the June 26 performance of the series.
Music begins at 6:30 p.m. for the opening act and continues until 9:30 p.m.
The town would like to see the series grow into a new venue on the Crooked Road, Southwest Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Officials acknowledge there are some requirements that must be met before that happens.
Roberts’ business, The Family Bakery, will be open during each event.
The town is also seeking sponsors to help offset the costs of series. Additional information can be found at www.razoo.com/story/Kickin-Back-King-Alley?referral_code=share. They noted that all contributions are tax-deductible.
For more information or a complete list of performers, visit www.kingalley.com or call 386-3831.
The Gate City Economic Development Committee welcomes input from local citizens at their meetings held the first and third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Gate City Town Hall.