Cardwell Hitches To New Star

Even though Music Midtown is on hiatus, Atlanta will have some outdoor music July 22nd. A one-day festival, organized by radio station Star 94, will mark a return of sorts for its producer, Marcie Allen Cardwell, who organized the city’s free On The Bricks concert series.

The three-day Music Midtown, which is an annual fixture in Atlanta, had to be temporarily scrapped this year because of added costs and a need for a new location. According to Star 94 program director Dan Bowen, that decision was instrumental in organizing its upcoming event.

“We immediately thought it was important to create another music event that would not necessarily take [Music Midtown’s] place but certainly help fill the void on some level,” Brown told Pollstar. “We wanted to do an outdoor venue in midtown, if we could find it. We decided the ultimate spot would be one of the hottest new areas of town, which is Atlantic Station.”

The festival is to have a main stage and a side stage for regional acts with a site capacity of 10,000. Star 94 was to announce the initial lineup May 17th. It was expected to include Train, Pink, Nickel Creek, Mat Kearney, Aqualung, and The Whigs.

Star Fest is expected to be an annual event, Bowen said.

Star 94 was the presenting radio station for three seasons of On The Bricks and recruited its organizer, Cardwell, to book talent for Star Fest. Other players from On The Bricks – Rick Whetsel and Tara Murphy – are on board for production and public relations.

Unlike On The Bricks and Nashville’s Dancin’ In The District, which could arguably be claimed as Cardwell’s events, she is taking a subordinate role in Star Fest.

Still, she has been out of the watchful eye of the industry for the year and a half since she left the company she started, Mad Booking. On The Bricks continued with Mad’s Laura Valente at the helm while Cardwell moved on to booking corporate events and negotiating sponsorships.

So, does this constitute a return to concert promotion?

“It’s an interesting question,” Cardwell told Pollstar. “It’s one that’s been posed a lot to me over the past couple of weeks from the industry after people heard we were going to be helping with Star Fest. The answer is yes and no. Yes, I’m obviously going to be doing festivals again but, no, it’s not anything like I was doing before. Number one, I don’t own the festival. It was Star 94’s idea.”

Cardwell’s new company, MAC Presents, has coordinated corporate events for Cracker Barrel, Victoria’s Secret, Chrysler, Coca-Cola and other companies. It is also responsible for promoting Cracker Barrel’s CD series.

Meanwhile, she said Star Fest is a sign that audiences are shifting from traditional amphitheatres to urban outdoor events.

“People want an intimate setting or they want to be outdoors in unrestricted seats. I think that’s one of the reasons why Star 94 picked Atlantic Station – it’s in the heart of midtown, a billion-dollar, live-eat-work-and-play,” she said.

“People are sick of commuting and there’s an issue of traffic in Atlanta. Here you have a place that has a movie theater, an IKEA, office buildings and townhouses and condos and 14 restaurants.”

– Joe Reinartz