Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming to Fort Dodge Aug. 1, and Jim Reed couldn’t be happier – or more relieved.
The southern rock band confirmed this week that it will headline Shellabration’s annual summer concert – which sets a record that Reed, the organization’s president, would rather not have reached.
This year marks the latest date Shellabration has ever confirmed its headliner.
“It’s not a record we aspired to break,” said Reed.
“This is a tale of perseverance,” he said, noting that it took five months, two weeks, four days, multiple offers and many sleepless nights to land the concert’s main draw.
Much of the challenge of booking headliner bands has to do with their established tour dates, which often involve pairings with other bands, as well as the proximity to other potential venues.
In addition, there are monetary considerations, Reed said.
Organizers of Shellabration, which has featured Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Grand Funk Railroad in recent years, made a deliberate decision to aim for a “higher level,” that is, more expensive, band this year.
Skynyrd, Reed said, was one of the top artists on Shellabration’s list.
“This is the next rung of the ladder,” he said. “We will take this as high as we can take it,”
In order to draw top-level entertainment, Shellabration – which is a nonprofit organization operated by unpaid board members and volunteers – relies heavily on sponsors and public support, Reed said.
Because confirmation of the band was so late this year, it narrows the window of time Shellabration has to recruit sponsors.
That, coupled with the higher cost of booking the band, means Shellabration will need to raise a record amount of money quickly, he said.
Reed said the cost to produce Shellabration 2014 will approach $225,000, breaking last year’s record of just more than $167,000 for its Styx concert.
That means this year’s show will be something of a proving ground, he said.
“The number of tickets we sell will help us determine whether or not our market can financially sustain shows of this magnitude” or larger, Reed said. “We’re sure hoping it can.”
He said he would urge people to attend the concert for two reasons: first, because they are Skynyrd fans, and second, to show support for Shellabration and its mission to bring quality events to Fort Dodge, while keeping ticket prices moderate. Tickets will cost $36 when they go on sale May 24. This year’s event will also mark a return to Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s standards include “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “What’s Your Name,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Saturday Night Special” and “That Smell.”
In 1977, three members of the band died in a plane crash. In 1987, the band regrouped with Johnny Van Zant taking over on lead vocals, replacing brother Ronnie Van Zant, who was among those killed. Van Zant is currently joined on stage by core band members Gary Rossington and Rickey Medlock. The band recently recorded a new studio album, “Last of a Dying Breed.”