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Mule Days has some surprises in store for attendees this year, as it continues an effort begun in 2013 to return to its Western heritage.
With a nod to its roots, the Bishop Mule Days Celebration has tapped award-winning cowboy entertainer Dave Stamey to headline the 2014 concert, with nationally-known cowboy poet Baxter Black serving as the opening act.
Essentially, Mule Days rejected the glitz and glamour of the latest country-pop sensation in favor of two of the countryâs most respected and loved cowboy entertainers to perform the 2014 concert. Think stripped-down, straight-forward country-Western in the vein of Marty Robbins, as opposed to the cookie-cutter, overly polished, gelled hair acts dominating a lot of radio stations today.
Celebrating its 45th year â and with its 50th anniversary looming, Bishop Mule Days organizers partook in some introspection as plans for 2014 came together, according to spokesperson Barbara Laughon.
âFor the past couple of years weâve felt a strong desire to re-connect with the eventâs western heritage,â Laughon said. âWe started the ball rolling last year with the initiation of the youth passport program, âI Want To Be A Packer,â and by all accounts, it was a quite a hit. So we began looking at other event aspects, and the concert seemed like the next logical step.â
The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22 in the Charles Brown Auditorium â another change from recent Mule Days celebrations.
According to Laughon, moving the concert back into the Charles Brown Auditorium will once again free up the arena for expanded mule shows, and it will also allow Mule Days to present a more intimate concert setting.
âSeating will be limited to 800,â Laughon said. âThis is not the concert setting we offered in the â90s. Weâve re-structured the layout so that the concert stage will run along the auditoriumâs north wall and the seating will curve around the edges of the stage. All in all, itâs the perfect setting for performers like Dave Stamey and Baxter Black, who both enjoy interaction with their audiences.â
Those looking for that interaction with the performers will want to consider purchasing VIP tickets, Laughon said. The tickets include preferred seating plus a meet-and-greet reception with the headliners prior to the concert. Hors dâoeuvres will be served and participants will receive a photograph to preserve the memories made.
Neither performer should be unfamiliar to local residents. Stamey has performed at Mule Days as the headliner for the Opening Night Supper, as has Black, who also opened in 2005 for concert headliner Chris Cagle.
âDave Stameyâs official biography says he has been a cowboy, a mule packer and a dude wrangler,â Laughon said. âTruth is he is now one of the most popular Western entertainers working today.âÂ
Stamey has been twice voted Entertainer of the Year, three times Male Performer of the Year and twice Songwriter of the Year by the Western Music Association, and received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. He has performed in 14 states.
Baxter is a former large-animal veterinarian. âHe has traveled the U.S. and Canada for the more than 25 years, scattering his wit and left-handed observations to folks looking for a bright spot in their day,â Laughon said.
Blackâs humor has lent itself to the sale of more the one million books, plus the airing of weekly radio and television programs, and a nationally syndicated magazine and newspaper column.
Samples of both menâs work are readily available on YouTube, Vimeo and a host of other video sites.
Ticket prices are $30 per person; $50 per person for VIP.Â The VIP Reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. with doors for the general public opening at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for the concert and all the Mule Days events go on sale at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Mule Days office andÂ online.
The Bishop Mule Days concert is presented byÂ Justin Boots and KIBS-FM, 100.7 FM.
For more information about Dave Stamey, visit his website, DaveStamey.com. For more information about Baxter Black, visit BaxterBlack.com.
For more information about Bishop Mule Days, call (760) 872-4263.