Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

June 27, 2014

Second Chance concert — Can-do spirit rocks Bluefield

— Erik Robinson and Billy Wagner would probably be the first to confess that promoting a concert in Bluefield is not an easy feat. Through the years, others have tried with mixed levels of success. It has long been rumored that Little Richard walked out on the stage at the Bluefield Auditorium after he saw how small the house was. In more recent years, Bob Hope failed to draw a crowd in Bluefield and even the great Statler Brothers couldn’t overcome a downpour to attract a crowd at Mitchell Stadium during a past Mountain Festival.

But given a second chance, the team of Robinson and Wagner really scored with the June 20 Second Chance Rocks the Two Virginias Concert featuring Nelly and Florida Georgia Line. Crowd estimates ranged anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000, but regardless of the number of people at Mitchell Stadium that night, people had a good time.

Let’s review. People had a good time and they had a good time in Bluefield.

Concert organizers Robinson and Wagner didn’t come up with a formula for success in a eureka moment. Just as they have done all of their lives, the two Tazewell County farm boys worked hard to overcome challenges to achieve success. Most professional baseball fans are familiar with Billy Wagner’s story of injuring his right arm in his youth and learning how to throw left-handed so he could keep playing the game he loves. Wagner’s 100 mile-per-hour fast balls made him an All-star relief pitcher in the Major Leagues.

It’s probably less well known that Erik Robinson was part of a rag-tag group of over-achievers who bought into Coach Glynn Carlock’s dream in 1989 and emerged with a state Class AA Football Championship. Erik wasn’t a glory guy. He was an undersized interior lineman who worked hard, did his job and was content to do his part to earn cheers for the team’s ball carriers and big play specialists.

It’s probably short-sighted to think of the Second Chance Concerts as a country music or any other kind of concert. All of the concerts have been more about fundraising in the community rather than about the popularity of the performers who have appeared here. After this concert, as well as after the previous concerts, there have been those who didn’t care for this or that, but that’s life. Some people like tomatoes and some don’t.

But there were more than 10,000 people at Mitchell Stadium on the first day of summer this year, enjoying Nelly’s country/urban mix and Florida Georgia Line’s high-energy popular country music.

Yet the good times and the music here are only part of the story. Beneath the surface, there’s an undercurrent of family love as well as community support for the Second Chance Learning Center, the Wade Center, WE CAN, the Bluefield Preservation Society and many more community service agencies that benefit from the big show. From the get go, this endeavor hasn’t been just a two-man show. Erik’s wife, A.J., and Billy’s wife, Sarah, as well as their families have pitched in to get the job done. Volunteers from the community have also contributed untold hours of in-the-trenches grunt work to make sure the 10,000 fans have a good time.

Good job. The entire region needs more of the can-do spirit that Second Chance has exhibited to get back on track for a better future.

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