Country superstar Garth Brooks will ride to the rescue of victims of the flooding that devastated middle Tennessee in May with a benefit concert on Dec. 17 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
Brooks made the announcement at the State Capitol Building in Nashville with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Congressman Jim Cooper, state Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Update at 7:20 a.m.: “Around Christmas time is when people seem to need the most help, and when people feel the most giving, so the timing just seemed to make sense,” Brooks told The Times shortly after his news conference ended. “This [flooding] happened in the first of May. You let the first wave of help come in and then you know there are going to be people who fall through the cracks. This is going to hopefully help them.”
Proceeds will go to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for flood relief. Tickets will cost $25, and full details about when and where they will be sold will be announced Nov. 3.
Update Nov. 3 at 11:25 a.m.: Tickets go on sale Saturday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m. Eastern/8 a.m. Pacific time at www.ticketmaster.com and by charge line at 1-800-745-3000 or through Ticketmaster Express 1-866-448-7849. In addition to the $25 face value, each ticket will have a $2.50 user fee plus $5.00 service charge for a total of $32.50.
Brooks said ticket demand will determine whether he adds more performances.
“We’re not expecting multiple shows like in Los Angeles,” he said, referring to the January 2008 marathon of five concerts over two days at Staples Center, including a CBS telecast of one show, that raised about $6 million for victims of wildfires that had ravaged Southern California the previous fall. Some funds also went to the firefighters and fire departments who battled those blazes.
“I don’t want to chase anything,” he said. “We’ll start with one performance and see what happens. Not a penny of this is ours. If we do more shows, that's just more chances we get to play.” The Nashville concert will feature Brooks with his full band.
He said he hasn’t had any discussions yet about whether the Nashville show will be telecast.
Brooks last performed in Nashville in 1998. It was almost exactly a decade ago that he announced his retirement, saying he wanted to focus on raising his three daughters until each went to college, but he has made occasionally performances for charity.
Last December he came out of retirement to play a series of small-theater solo-acoustic concerts on weekends at Steve Wynn’s Encore Theater in Las Vegas. Part of the arrangement with Wynn is that Brooks would play in public only at the Encore during what was established as a five-year engagement. Benefits, however, appear to be another matter.
"He doesn’t know it yet,” Brooks said, referring to the billionaire real estate tycoon, “but I’m going to be hitting him up to get his help on this too.”
During the press conference, Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “Many Tennesseans are still recovering from the biggest natural disaster since the president took office -- floods that left 47 Tennessee counties declared disaster areas. The flooding didn’t get much national attention, in part because Tennesseans started cleaning up and helping each other instead of looting and complaining. I thank Garth for bringing Tennesseans together through his music and I know the proceeds from the concert, which he is generously contributing to the cleanup, will be put to good use helping people put their lives back together.”
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Garth Brooks performs at a fundraiser for firefighters and fire victims at Staples Center on Jan 25, 2008. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times