Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 27, 2012

Church caps off great event

BLUEFIELD — Eric Church emerged from a smoke-filled stage, and the nearly 2-month wait appeared to be worth it for thousands of country music fans who came to Mitchell Stadium Sunday night to see an incredible show.

“I have to drive my older daughter back up to Morgantown after this,” Michael Nottingham of Pocahontas County, W.Va., said. “She has an 8 a.m., class, so we have a long drive ahead of us.”

Like thousands of other Eric Church fans, Adrienne Nottingham, a soil sciences junior at West Virginia University and her sister, Alyssa Nottngham, a senior at Pocahontas High School, waited through a line to get autographed photos of Church. When Billy Wagner called for the stadium lights to be turned off and Church pushed his way through the smoke-like water vapor with his guitar, the girls went wild.

“I was probably as mad as you were the last time because I’m as big of an Eric Church fan as you are,” Jake Owen said during his concert that truly rocked the crowd. Fans ran on tip-toes from one end of the stadium to another as excitement filled the absolutely clear night air.

Between the Owen and Church shows, Second Chance honored veterans. Joey Jarvis of KICKS Country introduced five uniformed military personnel, but his introduction of Billy Wagner and Erik Robinson was interrupted as the crowd broke into a chant of “USA, USA, USA,” that went on for several minutes.

“We’re so blessed,” Wagner said. “We’re able to be here because of what these people do. We put a lot of people in school and we keep a lot of people in school, but we really couldn’t do it without the support of the sponsors we have shown on the screen all evening.”

Wagner told the audience that Robinson “has caught a lot of flack” because the concert was canceled on June 29, when a violent wind storm ripped through the area. Still, he thanked the thousands of people who came back and let them go through their “growing pains.”

Robinson spoke briefly about how the Second Chance Learning Center helps keep at risk students in school. He thanked all of the volunteers who set up the stage for the show. “We put this on really fast,” he said. “Like a whirlwind. We hope to see you next year,” he said.

The crowd returned to their USA chant as the uniformed Marines and a soldier marched off the stage.

“These guys are great to work with,” Kent Martin, production manager of SRO Productions said of working with Robinson and Wagner.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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