You're his people, Antioch: Country star Rodney Atkins opens village's summer concert series

You're his people, Antioch.

Country music star Rodney Atkins is kicking off the village's It's Thursday summer concert series June 8.

The Academy of Country Music Award winner for top new male vocalist in 2007 is Antioch's biggest opening act since the annual concerts at the downtown band shell began in the fall of 2000.

Hampshire native Mackenzie O'Brien - with her popular, eponymous band - is the opening act at the William E. Brook Entertainment Complex, 900 Skidmore Drive.

By booking Atkins, the village is approaching the music series in a new way that hopefully will attract more visitors while also lowering costs.

For the Atkins show, Antioch has partnered with WUSN-FM 99.5, US 99 "Chicago's Country Station" and Raymond Auto Group. Raymond is a presenting sponsor throughout the season while a partnership with WXRT-FM 93.1, 93XRT is inked for the Decades Weekend, July 7-9.

The village also is exploring partnerships with other stations to defray costs and expand potential reach through radio promotion.

"It gives Antioch exposure regionally," said Jim Moran, the village's communications manager. "The promotional value we get out of it is considerable."

Moran, a veteran of more than two decades of doing news and traffic on Chicago radio stations, most notably WBBM and WLS, tapped his friends and industry connections to get the idea rolling.

The first order of business was to determine what type of music would be best for opening night. While Moran explored different opportunities and musical genres, feedback overwhelmingly favored country, he said.

"A lot of people I talked to thought a country act would be really good to bring in," he said, adding the chosen act also had to provide a good show and "the right amount of family-friendly and something that would fit in our community."

Discussions began with the program director and on-air staff at US 99.

"We provided a budget to work within, and they provided a list (of artists) that might fit," he added.

Atkins was secured for $21,500, which Moran said was a relative bargain: It's a Thursday, and he's going to be playing in Minnesota the next night.

Between sponsorship money and revenue from anticipated concession sales, Moran said he didn't expect the village would break even.

"We're bringing more people to downtown Antioch for better music and paying less money," he said. "It would not be possible without the support of our sponsors."

About 3,500 were on hand at the band shell to see rock band Royal Bliss for opening night last year. This year, vendors are being repositioned to allow more people.

  Hampshire native Mackenzie O'Brien and the Mackenzie O'Brien band will open for Rodney Atkins June 8 at Antioch's first It's Thursday concert for the season on June 8. Joe Lewnard/, August 2021
Fans enjoy opening night of the 2022 summer concert series at the Antioch band shell. This year, country star Rodney Atkins kicks off the season June 8. Courtesy village of Antioch
Country music artist Rodney Atkins will open Antioch's summer concert series June 8. Courtesy village of Antioch
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