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VOL. 122 | NO. 156 | Monday, August 20, 2007

Memphis-Based TCB Entertainment Brings More Concerts to Mid-South

By Eric Smith

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UBIQUITOUS: TCB Entertainment has been bringing such acts as the White Stripes to the Memphis area since June 2005. -- Photo Courtesy Of Tcb Entertainment

Memphians might think of Elvis when they see the letters "TCB." After all, "Taking Care of Business (in a Flash)" was the King's trademark phrase, while TCB and an accompanying lightning bolt now adorn a zillion souvenirs.

But that acronym has new meaning for anyone more concerned with music's future than its past.

TCB Entertainment, whose name stands for "The Country's Best Entertainment," has been bringing all kinds of big acts to the area - from country to rock, from college bars to mammoth arenas - helping the Memphis-based company establish itself as the new king of concerts.

"We felt there was a need, or even a vacuum, in the Memphis market to bring good shows," said J.De DeHart, who co-founded the company in June 2005. "We felt the fans would come out and support that, so our challenge was basically seeing if the Memphis market could handle more shows than it was getting."

Performers large and small

So far so good for TCB (www.tcbconcerts.com), which will book between 120 and 140 concerts during 2007 in the Memphis area.

Since debuting two years ago, TCB's concert offerings have included big-time acts such as Kid Rock and Toby Keith playing Fed- ExForum, and lesser-known artists like Ben Kweller and Jay Farrar playing Newby's, a bar on Highland Street.

The company scored a major hit with fans when the wildly popular White Stripes performed last month at Snowden Grove Amphitheatre in Southaven, filling the 10,500-seat facility with a raucous, appreciative crowd.

Such events serve as proof that TCB is on track.

"We felt that there needed to be more music brought to the city," said TCB co-founder Jim Green. "We both come from entertainment backgrounds, and we had both promoted shows in the city, so we kind of hit the ground running and haven't stopped since."

Booking shows in Memphis isn't difficult. Because of its history and its music heritage, the city is a big draw for performers who want to play the birthplace of rock 'n' roll.

"They love the fact that Sun Records was here, they love Stax Records, they love the fact that Elvis was from here," Green said. "There's a ton of history, and people really enjoy the city, whether it's coming down to the river or eating barbecue or live music in general, there's such a great vibe here in the city."

Multifaceted operation

TCB is the entertainment arm of family-owned The DeHart Group, a Memphis-based company with a host of divisions ranging from third-party logistics to logistics to finance to human resources to technology.

TCB taps into The DeHart Group's wide-ranging competencies when it plans concerts. For example, when the rock group Velvet Revolver plays Snowden Grove next month, it will bring 80 people, nine tour buses and seven semi-trucks loaded with concert gear.

The companies will be responsible for organizing all those vehicles and all that equipment in time for the show.

"That's one thing where we see a real tie-in with The DeHart Group because we have such an expertise with logistics and transportation," said DeHart marketing director Chris DeHart.

With its eye on the diversity of music fans in the area, TCB has done its best to book a variety of concerts, not just the rock bands.

"We wanted to bring in country, the alternative, eclectic type of music," J.De DeHart said. "We wanted to go around the board with it and not just be stuck on one genre."

TCB also didn't want to be stuck on one venue, and the company works with pretty much all venues in the area except Mud Island Amphitheatre, which has an exclusive contract with a New Orleans booking agency.

Since Mud Island has long been the area's premier outdoor concert venue, TCB was forced to look elsewhere for its summer bookings, an important season for concert promoters.

"When we were told we couldn't use Mud Island, we said, 'OK, what can we do to bring music to Memphis?'" Green said. "So we focused on Snowden Grove Amphitheatre."

Back to the hair bands

Snowden Grove opened in April near Getwell and Goodman roads, just two miles south of the state line. TCB already has booked a number of concerts there, including 1980s glam rock band Poison and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.

With an exclusive contract to book all shows at Snowden Grove, TCB's owners said they are thrilled with the new facility, which is about 90 percent complete, with only permanent concession stands and restrooms, as well as some landscaping, left to be installed.

Kristi Faulkner, executive assistant to Southaven mayor Greg Davis, said she thinks the relationship with TCB has been a boon for DeSoto County residents, who previously would have had to travel to see shows they now have in their backyard.

"The concerts and the names (TCB is) bringing in are kind of different for people around here," Faulkner said. "They don't have to go into Memphis and pay extremely high ticket prices. And we couldn't be more pleased. They are such a professional company. The concerts flow. You can tell that they're experts and that's what they do."

Toward more concert dollars

TCB owners hope that expertise will lend itself to greater things for itself, its parent company and its hometown.

"One of the main things we're trying to do with The DeHart Group is bring economic value back toward our marketplace," J.De DeHart said.

And that means more concerts. The company's owners expect to start booking upward of 200 by next year, with an economic ripple effect that could be widespread in terms of sending business to all of TCB's local, concert-related vendors.

"If we can bring in 80 more shows, that means people working security have 80 more shows, that means catering people have 80 more shows, all the people working as stagehands or ticket takers have 80 more shows," J.De DeHart said. "The big value of all this is everybody is getting a piece of the pie because there is more business being generated because of TCB."

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