Twilight Alive Concert Series kicks off Friday

Matthew Lane • May 25, 2016 at 10:30 PM

KINGSPORT — The Twilight Alive Concert Series returns again this year for its 10th season in downtown Kingsport.

For the past 10 years, hundreds of music lovers have packed the 100 block of Broad Street on Thursday and Friday nights in the summertime, with folding chairs in hand, listening to a mix of music genres, tribute bands and local bluegrass performers.

The more contemporary sounds are found with the Twilight Alive offerings on Thursday nights with this year’s season kicking off on May 27 with Scott Miller.

The remainder of this season’s bands include Members Only (June 3), Benny Wilson Band and Ivy Road (June 10), an Allman Brothers tribute band (June 17), The Stranger (June 24), a blues extravaganza (July 1), Folk Soul Revival (July 4), the Catfish Frye Band (July 8) and C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band (July 15).

“This series continues to grow each year. People now expect it and anticipate it. It’s showing no signs of slowing down,” said Emily Thompson with the Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The concert series provides a great opportunity for restaurants and businesses to show a large group of potential customers what our downtown has to offer.

“People just want to come out and be with their friends and coworkers and neighbors, and really just enjoy a night out on the street.”

The Bluegrass on Broad concerts begin June 2 with a performance by Mike Bentley & Cumberland Connection. Other performers this year include Boots on the Ground (June 9), the Turkey Creek Band (June 16), Appalachian Trail (June 23), Tennessee Skyline (June 30), Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show (July 7), The Boxcars (July 14) and Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers (July 28).

The concerts take place at the corner of Broad and Market streets and begin at 7 p.m. The events are free and the public is encouraged to bring chairs. No coolers or pets, please.

Sponsors for the 2016 Series include Pal’s Sudden Service, Kingsport Convention & Visitors Bureau, WQUT FM 101.5, Eastman, Eastman Credit Union, First Tennessee Bank, Stir Fry Café, Marsh Regional Blood Center, Cherokee Distributing and VIP Seen Tri-Cities

The roots of the Twilight Alive Concert Series date back more than a decade to when local hot dog chef Tom Keller — owner of TK’s Big Dogs — began hosting essentially a bluegrass jam session inside his restaurant for about 200 friends and customers.

These jam sessions eventually grew over the next couple of years and spilled out into Broad Street, expanding to 30 concerts a year and boasting crowds of more than 3,500 people. Ten years ago, Keller teamed up with another local businessman, Doug Beatty, and along with former Alderman Ben Mallicote pitched an idea to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The idea was for the city to pitch in some funds each year — around $70,000 — to take the concert series to the next level, bringing in notable and award-winning performers and improving the promotion of the weekly concerts to the greater Kingsport area.

Eventually, the concert series was brought in under the auspices of the KCVB, and it has become a staple in downtown ever since, drawing large crowds of fans and music lovers of all ages.