The season may be over for fans of the Burlington Sock Puppets, but folks in Alamance County will once again have a reason to head out to the ballpark for family entertainment.
On Oct. 7, Maverick Radio will partner with the Sock Puppets organization to present an evening of live music, featuring country music artist Craig Morgan.
Bringing musicians to the area is nothing new to the local radio station, but the size, logistics and investments for the Oct. 7 show is a strong indication of the station’s commitment to the area and its listeners.
“When we launched the Maverick (95.1 and 94.3), our promise was to bring events like this to town, to keep concert dollars here in Alamance County,” said Chuck Marsh, owner and CEO of Maverick Radio in Burlington. “We’ve done that on a smaller scale, but it’s time to jump things up like this.”
Marsh sat down with the Mebane Enterpise to talk about the concert, and provide details on what all it took to bring a stage to the ballpark.
MEBANE ENTERPRISE: How did the idea come together to have a concert event at the Sock Puppets’ stadium?
CHUCK MARSH: Honestly, I had been talking to the Burlington Royals about a show like this when we first launched the Maverick Radio Station in 2019. Then when the radio stations and Anderson Rathbun, General Manager with the Sock Puppets, began a relationship, it started to gain some interest. Anderson is a big dreamer like me, and here we are.
ME: When did the planning begin?
CM: Anderson has been planning this for two years and finally got serious about it last fall. I booked Craig Morgan in February 2023.
ME: Have you (Maverick Radio) done anything of this magnitude before?
CM: The Maverick has done some great shows over the years, but nothing of this size because we didn’t have a place to do it. We’ve had Diamond Rio, LoneStar and Wynonna Judd in town as we used to do our “Holiday and Hits” series, which was a fundraiser for The Petty Family Foundation. Those funds were earmarked for Alamance County. I think over the three-year period, we raised an average of $30,000 per year after all the bills were paid, but those acts are about half the price of putting on this Craig Morgan show.
ME: Who will be performing?
CM: Craig Morgan is our headliner. Craig has had multiple No. 1’s, Top 5’s and Top 10’s over the years, but what I love so much about him is that he’s a patriot and a military hero. He served with the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions and was part of the mission called “Just Cause.” He helped take down Manuel Noriega in Panama. Now, I get to bring him to Alamance County. Local talent, Matt Lovette, will open with an acoustic performance. Also, Craig has the Reeves Brothers traveling with him on the “God, Country, Family Tour.”
ME: What kind of an investment have you made for this event?
CM: (Laughs) It’s big. The weekend will cost about $90,000, but we’ve had some great support from local businesses through sponsorships.
ME: Tell me about the stage — how big?
CM: 30 feet by 32 feet with a roof, stage, sound and lights.
ME: How expensive?
CM: We’re having to buy $5,000 in plywood to drive the tractor trailers on to load and unload the equipment. We can’t damage the baseball field. We have flooring going down to protect the field from folks walking on it. It’s a massive undertaking. Thanks to Anderson and the Sock Puppets for partnering with us on it. The overall cost will be around $90,000.
ME: Do you plan to make this a regular occurrence?
CM: Absolutely. If this one is a success, I’d like to go bigger next year. We’ve talked about Toby Mac on the Christian music side, and maybe Travis Tritt or Josh Turner and some openers next year. We’re just gonna play this one by ear.
ME: What kind of cooperation has the city provided?
CM: It has been very excited about what we’re doing. I spoke the other night with Mayor Jim Butler, and he’s very excited to see how this turns out. They love that the baseball field is being used for more than just baseball. It can be used year-round, so to speak. This is very good for the area as people will come from out of town for this show. It’s the only North Carolina date on this tour.
ME: Were there any challenges to pulling off this concert?
CM: Tons of challenges. Most folks have no idea what it takes to put a show like this together. As you can imagine, turning a perfectly groomed baseball field into a concert venue is probably not the brightest idea, but I’m a “hold-my-beer” kind of guy.
ME: How did you overcome those challenges?
CM: Lots of local contacts and problem solving. Anderson used his contacts with the Durham Bulls to get us a floor to put down to protect the baseball field at a fraction of the cost. We would have had to cancel this event if it hadn’t been for his relationship with the Durham Bulls baseball team. We’ve already started talks about buying our own floor for future events.
ME: Are folks excited?
CM: I think folks are really excited. We’ve sold nearly 1,500 advance tickets, which is pretty strong for an outdoor event. Most folks will wait until a few days before to see how the weather looks. I think we’ll probably end up with 2,000 to 2,500 in attendance for Saturday. We also have an “Afternoon of Hope” that will be on Sunday (gates open at 3 p.m.), with Sanctus Real, the SMC worship team, plus some speakers and local singers like Josh Stewart. Tickets for that show are as little as $5. We just want to invite folks out to share hope in Alamance County.
Tickets for the Oct. 7 Craig Morgan concert start at $20. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday shows can be purchased online at shopthemaverick.com.