Show starts at 7:30pm with opening act James Carothers

By Jill Whitley | jill@newnan.com

Photo Courtesy of Country Legends Promotions.

Exactly 40 years after the movie “Urban Cowboy” made Mickey Gilley a household name, a local family business is bringing the legendary country music artist to the Wadsworth Theatre for an intimate, Valentine’s Day performance. 

Jamie Dingler, co-owner of Country Legends Promotions, says the upcoming show, the first of four “Country Gold” concerts planned for the Wadsworth this year, is just the beginning of his bid to turn Newnan into a major hub on the classic country tour circuit. 

“There’s a big market here for people who want to hear the music they grew up listening to on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday Nights, without having to drive into Atlanta to do it,” Dingler explained. “And there is no bigger name in country music than Mickey Gilley. He is the original Urban Cowboy, and Country Legend Promotions is honored to bring him here. I feel like I’m giving my hometown a gift.”

Gilley was well established as an artist before the 1980 film. He first topped the country charts with  “Room Full of Roses” in 1976, but starring as the owner of the “world’s largest honky-tonk”, and contributing to the movie’s soundtrack catapulted Gilley to stardom and ushered in the era of the country-crossover genre. Gilley went on to record 39 top-ten singles before 1989. 

Although Gilley, now 83, has left his mechanical-bull riding days behind him, he still maintains a rigorous tour schedule.  In a recent Facebook video, he told fans, “I have 17 No. 1 hits, and I intend to perform as many of them as they’ll let me before we run out of time.”

Nashville crooner James Carothers, who recently opened for Alan Jackson at the Grand Ole Opry and on select tour dates, will warm up the crowd beginning at 7:30 pm. Dingler promises that the combination of such a remarkable young talent with Gilley’s legendary stage presence will be a performance Coweta County won’t soon forget.

Jamie Dingler and his uncle Andy Black, the family behind Country Legends Promotions, pose with musician Ronnie McDowell after his August 2019 concert at Newnan’s Wadsworth Auditorium.

“There is no better venue out there than the Wadsworth,” Dingler says. “The show you see in such an intimate setting is unlike anything you’ll get in the city. With only 600 seats, the artists can deliver a world-class show, and interact with the audience in a way that you’ll never see in a 10,000 seat venue.”

Country singer Ronnie McDowell, who played Newnan at Dingler’s behest last August, concurs: “I just played a tour that was a mix of small theatres like the Wadsworth, and larger venues, and I’ll be honest: I like the smaller theatres better. With a smaller crowd, I can actually get down into the audience- shake people’s hands, hug people’s necks, and sing along with people during a show. It makes me want to put so much more effort into the performance.” 

Dingler said that in his experience, many of the artists he works with are willing to put in the time to sign merchandise and take pictures after the show. “Being part of such a small crowd means you’re going to get more attention from that artist than you would at a larger concert hall,” Dingler said. “It’s as up close and personal as you’re going to get without actually taking them home with you.”

In the past two years, Country Legends Promotions, which Dingler describes as a “completely family-run operation”, has hosted a number of country music legends at the Wadsworth: Gene Watson, Ronnie McDowell, TG Sheppard, T. Graham Brown, and Confederate Railroad.

Courtesy of Country Legends Promotions

For 2020, Mickey Gilley is the first in a lineup that will include Moe Bandy, John Conlee, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Dingler is also working on bringing in slightly more contemporary acts like Joe Diffie. 

To procure big names like Gilley, Country Legends Promotions relies on sponsorships. Right now, Springer Mountain Farms and Buffalo Rock are on board, but Dingler would love to partner with more local businesses to bring in more well-known talent. “We’re bringing entertainment to Newnan that people are traveling from well into Alabama and surrounding areas to see. They’re going to eat here, maybe get a hotel room and take in the nightlife after the show,” Dingler said. “We’d love to see some of those local businesses that benefit from these shows go in with us to bring in more concerts.” 

Tickets for the Mickey Gilley show are available online at itickets.com, or by phone at 1-800-965-9324. For more information, or for sponsorship opportunities, please email Country Legends Promotions at countrylegendspromotions@gmail.com, or visit https://www.facebook.com/CountryLegendsPromotions.