Pine Knob Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Saturday Country Festival

The Pine Knob Music Theater celebrated its 50th anniversary with a little boot scooter boogie.

Crowds of fans packed the amphitheater on Saturday for the final edition of the 99.5 WYCD Hoedown, a two-stage affair that will culminate with an evening of Brooks & Dunn.

Gates opened at 4 p.m., half a century to the day – in fact, almost to the hour – after Pine Knob debuted a matinee concert by David Cassidy.

That June 25, 1972 show kicked off a long and storied history for Pine Knob, which has long established itself as one of the most successful summer music venues in the United States. The golden anniversary is at the center of a season-long campaign at the amphitheater.

History was made behind the scenes in the form of Brooks & Dunn tour manager Bill Thompson, a concert business veteran who worked his first Pine Knob show two months after the amphitheater opened – in August 1972, when he was lighting director for the soft-rock band Bread. He was greeted with a celebratory banner in the food court on Saturday.

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Bill Thompson, tour manager of country duo Brooks & Dunn, poses backstage at the Pine Knob Music Theater on June 25, 2022, with a banner commemorating his very first show there in August 1972.

While the 50th anniversary leg was certainly not lost on Saturday’s audience, most were preoccupied with the party at hand, a seven-hour country extravaganza that also featured lead artists Scott McCreery and Tenille Townes. . Many had warmed up for the long day of tailgating in the Pine Knob parking lots, where country tunes blared from trucks and car trunks.

The more than 15,000 fans in the crowd were to receive a commemorative anniversary poster when they left the venue later that night.

The Hoedown doesn’t quite have the history Pine Knob has had over the decades, but it’s an institution in its own right. For 32 years, it was a downtown Detroit staple before moving to the grounds of Clarkston’s venue, then known as the DTE Energy Music Theater, in 2016 and downscaling to a one-person event. daytime.

The music kicked off on Saturday with a set from smoky-voiced newcomer Kassi Ashton, while Parmalee made his first appearance at Hoedown since 2014, playing a set that included the titled number 1 country song in the US, “Take My Name”.

Marquee at the Pine Knob Music Theater on June 25, 2022, the venue's 50th anniversary.

Toya J. Bell