I’ve been at every KICKS 99 Guitar Pull, except for three years while I was with our company in Tampa Bay. Here are some good and not-so-good things that happen behind the scenes.
The First Year
The first KICKS 99 Guitar Pull was held at Sacred Heart in downtown Augusta. It took well over a month to sell 300 tickets. The line-up? The Wilkinsons, Michael Peterson, Doug Stone, Chely Wright, and the Warren Brothers. You may have to google a few of those…HA! The Warren Brothers are very successful songwriters in Nashville now, and Doug Stone still tours.
After that first show, we all went to the Partridge Inn bar and stayed late. The next day we heard the Warren Brothers got The Wilkinsons’ dad hammered and he left his guitar in the bar.
We never dreamed that this little show would grow into what it is today. Here are a few more stories.
Not Yet, Vince!
The year we had Vince Gill on the GP with Darius was one of the years where we asked the artists to all join in on a grand finale.
We asked Vince to lead it off at the end with “Go Rest High” and he agreed. I was in the KICKS Cafe area behind the stage having a bite with one of Vince’s record reps when my phone started blowing up. The staff told me Vince is singing “Go Rest High” and he wasn’t supposed to do it until the end!
At intermission, I asked Vince what happened and he said a couple of the other guys were getting standing ovations, so I had to do something…Ha!
After Vince told me that, Darius overheard and said, I’ve got one we could do, when he started it, the crowd went crazy and the first and only fight I’ve seen at GP happened. The song was the David Allan Coe tune, “You Never Called Me By My Name.”
Never Know Til You Ask!
One of the first huge acts we got early on was Rascal Flatts. They were so big, I knew we wouldn’t get them, but this is when I learned you never know till you ask. I got a call one day and it was Joe Don Rooney with Rascal Flatts and he said, we’re coming!
That same year Vince was on the show and The Band Perry was seated next to Vince, he turned to the guy in The Band Perry with the mandolin and said “play that thing!”, and there was an awkward moment when Vince realized Neil Perry didn’t know the song.
Luke’s First Number 1
Luke Bryan and Lady A were about to leave the venue and grab lunch after sound check and I remember seeing them as they were walking out and Luke said “hey, y’all want to finish writing that song?” They returned to their dressing room and wrote it and then headed to lunch. They performed it on stage that evening and it became Luke Bryan’s first number one song..”Do I.”
One Nation, Under God
We all remember 2001. This was such an emotional GP. After the tragedy in our country in September of that year, we wanted to do something special at the end of the show. We had a huge flag above the stage curtains and I asked Brad Paisley to play The Star Spangled Banner. Brad started picking, the flag unfurled slowly, and unrehearsed, Chris Cagle got up..grabbed a microphone, and recited “The Pledge Of Allegiance.” It was an unforgettable moment.
We’re busy now working on KICKS 99’s Guitar Pull, 2022 edition. Hope you are making your plans to attend! See Guitar Pulls by year below!