There are some people out there who think the Clio Amphitheater is closed – and that simply isn’t true. The slogan of the facility is “to provide quality family entertainment at an affordable price” and that is exactly what they’ve delivered with its popular tribute band concerts on Tuesday evenings during the summer months.
“A few years back, it did close for about two weeks as they could no longer afford to pay for big-name shows and were forced into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy,” explains Gary Langdon, Chairman of the Board of Directors. The goal was to find a way to reopen it and a steering committee was formed. Langdon and other committee members developed a proposal which got the thumbs up from the Clio City Council. They discovered that rather than try to attract big-name shows, it would be less expensive to offer tribute concert acts. Jack Abernathy, who was the Clio City Administrator at the time, remembers the City of Clio making a $40,000 investment in the amphitheater’s revival.
The tribute shows started in the summer following the bankruptcy. “The first show was a Bee Gees tribute,” Abernathy says. “Interest in the concerts has grown over the years.”
Usually, about 500-1,500 people attend the tribute concerts at the outdoor venue, but it depends on the weather. Upcoming performances include: “The Rock Show – a Tribute to the 80s” on August 8, and “Boogie Dynomite Disco Tribute” on August 15. “The Board of Directors and dedicated volunteers work hard to make this all happen,” Langdon adds.
People have some special memories of performances by big-name bands back in the day. “My favorite memory is a performance by The Oak Ridge Boys,” says Sue Weinburg, a volunteer. “They were friendly and personable and joked with us a lot. Clay Aiken was here for two shows. People camped out for two weeks to get tickets.”
“We’ve been watching shows at the Clio Amphitheater for a very long time,” says Mary Langdon, Gary’s wife and an Amphitheater volunteer. “My very favorite performance was Neil McCoy. We did a meet-and-greet with him and he was very personable. Vince Gill was also very nice. Blake Shelton was here when he first started his career.” Some other big names who gave outstanding performances at the Clio Amphitheater include: Tricia Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Journey, Glen Campbell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Grand Funk Railroad, B.B. King, Keith Urban and Michael Bolton. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stix, Travis Tritt, Heart, and Toby Keith also entertained with memorable performances over the years. Here are some fond memories shared by My City Magazine readers.
Favorites From the Fans
“I remember seeing Blake Shelton when he was first getting started. I also volunteered and worked the “Larry the Cable Guy” show. Was chosen from the volunteers to meet him back stage. Very nice guy! Also worked the Willie Nelson show. Had to have everyone take off their cowboy hats to check for whatever. It closed the next day. I miss the big names.”
B. B. King, Willie Nelson, Jonny Lang, Heart, Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis & the News, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Crosby, Stills & Nash, to name a few. I saw some of them more than once. We had tickets for Jonny Lang when they shut it down (I never did get my money back). Willie Nelson was the last “big name” show. They closed the next day. Great shows. Great venue. I miss It. I forgot Jewel. I loved her show! Great sense of humor – and that voice!
Karen Taylor Irwin
“Journey, Joe Cocker Paul Rodgers and the greatest guitarist six years running. Joe Bonamassa opened for three shows that I saw.”
“Big & Rich roadies gave me a backstage pass. Not a country music fan but it was a great time!”
“Jewel’s acoustic performance was awesome.”
“Best performers I saw there were Tom Jones and Clay Aiken, neither one typical for me, but they both put on great shows and were crowd-pleasers! John Mayall was also really good, B.B. King, not so much! Lyle Lovett was a surprise all around! Expected him to be tall, but he was very short. Not long into the show, there was a downpour and everyone left. We went home, but drove back a while later, and he started performing again! What a guy!”
Marsha Briggs Galbraith
Photography by Eric Dutro