The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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May 25, 2012

Fayetteville venue brings more big-name concerts to area

JOPLIN, Mo. — FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Zac Cook and Mike Warren and six others kicked a footbag back and forth on May 8 while the sun was still up, before the music began at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

They came to see rock band Five Finger Death Punch perform in concert, with opening acts Trivium and In This Moment. As did Jennifer Carlton, who bought a T-shirt before the show began.

All three said they appreciated the extra space at the new location for the Arkansas Music Pavilion. The full venue, which resembles a smaller version of modern concert amphitheaters, is a big improvement from its past location in a mall parking lot, Carlton said.

“I’ve been to a lot of shows, especially at the mall,” Carlton said. “This is nice. It’s much more open. You don’t have to walk forever to get a beer.”

Staff members at the Arkansas Music Pavilion are under no illusion. They know that those three and all the other thousands of people turned out to see the band that would take the stage, not the venue itself. (Carlton said she would go to hell to see the right band.)

But having a new facility such as this makes it easier to get those kinds of bands, said Brian Crowne, general manager of what is dubbed the “Amp.”

“No matter what kind of artist is traveling or at what level of business they are at, they want to do the show that they have rehearsed,” Crowne said. “They need room to put their gear out and all their lights so they can put on the best show they can for fans.”

The construction of a new stage and pavilion at the fairgrounds means that the Amp can now attract bigger, more actively touring musical acts. And because Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, is about 90 minutes away, Joplin area residents’ pool of available, accessible concerts got a little bit bigger.

“We looked at numbers from last year and found that 80 percent of any given show included people outside Washington County,” said Beth Goodwin, public relations manager for the venue. “It’s not just college crowds. We’re getting people from Bentonville, Springfield, Joplin, Little Rock, Tulsa and more.”

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