Alabama to headline Bristol Dragway concert

Jeff Birchfield • May 6, 2019 at 7:48 PM

BRISTOL — “Mountain Music” is coming to Thunder Valley this summer.

Country Music Hall of Fame group Alabama will be the headline act when Bristol Dragway is transformed into an outdoor concert venue known as the Thunder Valley Amphitheatre presented by Ballad Health on Saturday, July 27.

The new and innovative concert venue is designed to bring some of music’s biggest names to the Tri-Cities. Two-time Grammy winning Alabama will play several of their 21 No. 1 hits like “Mountain Music,” “Tennessee River” and “Dixieland Delight” as part of their 50th anniversary tour.

John Michael Montgomery, best known for hits like “Life’s a Dance,” Can Love You Like That” and “Sold” will be the opening act.

“You look at this facility and you see the natural beauty, Thunder Valley is a beautiful place to be at night,” Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway General Manager Jerry Caldwell said. “It’s a state-of-the-art dragway facility, but how do we use it other times? It leads to the natural conclusion to look at some music and that’s where we are.”

The legendary drag strip, which opened in 1965, hosts a number of big events annually headlined by the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on June 14-16.

Tucked between two mountains, the Thunder Valley Amphitheatre presented by Ballad Health will allow both guests and performers to revel under the stars while enjoying one of the most picturesque panoramas in music.

Country music superstar Kenny Chesney performed a concert at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 9, 2016, one day before the Battle at Bristol football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

Caldwell believes the dragway is a more natural music venue, better for a larger variety of performers.

“This opens us to a lot of other acts,” Caldwell said. “Over there when you have the second-largest (sporting) venue in the country and one of the largest in the world, you’re limited on the ones that will make sense to fill it up. You have to look at 50,000 to 150,000. With this, you can look more in the 10,000 to 20,000 range, and acts that we think make a lot of sense.”

Part of the proceeds from the July concert will be donated to Niswonger Children’s Hospital. It is the latest partnership of BMS entities and Ballad Health, and the second week in a row for an announcement directly related to the area’s only children’s hospital.

“They’ve been a great partner for years,” Niswonger Children’s Hospital CEO Lisa Carter said about Bristol Motor Speedway. “We’ve found a great opportunity collectively to do some things for the kids and try to leverage our resources the best way we can. With this, we’re working together to bring some great entertainment to the region.”

In addition to playing host to the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day weekend, Bristol Dragway is home to the Bristol Chevy Show, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Thunder Valley Mayhem, weekly Street Fights and DER Bracket Racing Series as well as the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals, and other racing events.

Tickets to the concert go on sale Wednesday and will be sold through the Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway ticket office or online at Ticketmaster.com.