For almost two decades, the one constant in the entertainment industry in this part of the country has been AC Entertainment. Sure there are other promoters that have had success over the years, but none more so than AC.
The man behind AC is Ashley Capps, and every time I talk to him, I come away further impressed by his ability to think long-term and to see a bigger picture than most.
In the last two weeks, AC announced that it had helped raise and distribute $369,000 through its Bonnaroo Works Fund, and that it is opening a Nashville office to go along with the main one in Knoxville.
In addition to co-owning and co-producing Bonnaroo, AC books all of the national and regional touring acts at Track 29 here, owns and operates the Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou in Knoxville and promotes shows all over the South, including in Asheville, N.C. It also works with the Nashville Symphony, the Exit/In and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.
The Bonnaroo Works program and the Nashville office illustrate that big-picture thinking. The works program is designed to provide money to groups that promote the arts and environmental sustainability.
"We try to look at the long-term impact of the projects," Capps says.
While many promoters seem focused on maximizing revenue for a single event or tour, Capps is already thinking about the next one or the one several years from now.
"In this business, or in any business really, but especially this one, it's about building relationships," he says. "Opening an office in Nashville is a long time coming. Our work there has grown steadily and really expanded for us in the last two years."
Capps says his staff has increased the work it does in Nashville in the last several years, and the company has also been working on an alliance with the city and Bonnaroo, which takes place about 50 miles away in Manchester, Tenn.
You might think AC would be primarily tapping into the country music market in Nashville, but Capps says it isn't just that.
"We do love country music, and we will be exploring that, but Nashville is about so much more than that. There is so much creative energy to be had by rubbing shoulders with people there."
Capps would not reveal any new plans for Bonnaroo 2014 but says one thing he will not worry about is how to top Paul McCartney being there in 2013.
"That was an extraordinary moment in Bonnaroo history."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...