Tag Archives: Virginia

Coastal Virginia Town Readies “Red Carpet” For 8th Annual Smithfield Music’s Aiken & Friends Fest Performers

Source: So Much Moore Media

Norfolk, VA (September 23, 2013) – The coastal Virginia town of Smithfield is readying its “red carpet” for the entertainers slated to perform during its 8th Annual Smithfield Music’s Aiken & Friends Fest. The event, which runs October 4 & 5, offers music and educational workshops that benefit youth music education in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

“It’s certainly not a ‘red carpet’ type of event,” laughs Fest founder and noted singer/songwriter Mike Aiken.  “But this year’s entertainers are certainly celebrities in their own right, and we want to make them feel welcome.”

Mike AikenEver humble, Mike Aiken would never toot his own horn, but the Northwind Records’ artist is a Virginia-based singing and songwriting fixture who is cherished for his signature blend of Americana, Country and Roots music.  A performer loved by audiences, Mike Aiken is a teller of tales whose music makes you feel like you instantly know him.  With five Top 30 singles over the past four years in the U.S. and Europe, Aiken is a compelling performer.  His depth as a songwriter is a result of his wandering, adventurous lifestyle. His current (and sixth studio CD), CAPTAINS AND COWBOYS, is now in stores.

buzz casonBuzz Cason’s six-decade career has been spent living the Rock & Roll dream.  Cason formed Nashville’s first R & R band, THE CASUALS, in the mid-1950s, enjoyed a solo hit with “Look For A Star” under the name Garry Miles and produced Buddy Holly’s former band, The Crickets.  As a songwriter, Buzz has garnered cuts by The Beatles, Pearl Jam, U2, Mel Tillis, T.G. Sheppard and many more.  His best-known composition is “Everlasting Love,” which he co-wrote with Mac Gayden.  The tune has enjoyed chart success in every decade since its release by The Righteous Brothers.  An engaging entertainer, Buzz has performed before audiences both stateside and abroad.

austinTexas native Austin Cunningham made a name for himself as a songwriter early in his career with cuts by Hank Williams, Jr., Martina McBride, Dolly Parton, Wynonna, Del McCoury and others.  His songs have been featured in film soundtracks for Ashley Judd’s Where The Heart Is and the Richard Gere/Winona Ryder film,Autumn In New York.  Cunningham has performed at the Sundance Film Festival for theBluebird Café On The Road series, and has been awarded the coveted Johnny Mercer Award for“Emerging American Songwriters.”  Austin’s strong voice and accomplished pickin’ continue to captivate audiences.


dannyLegendary guitarist, songwriter and recording artist Danny Flowers is best known for his songsTulsa Time (Don Williams and Eric Clapton),“Back In My Younger Days” (Don Williams),“Gulf Coast Highway” for Emmylou HarrisWillie Nelson, and Nanci Griffith (co-written with Griffith and James Hooker) and “Before Believing” from Harris’ PIECES OF THE SKY disc.  Flowers has also enjoyed a solo recording career that includes the 2007 album, TOOLS FOR THE SOUL.  A passionate and sought-after session musician, his licks can be heard on tracks by Williams, Griffith, Vince GillMarshall Chapman and Dobie Gray.

mojoMojo Collins is a Folk/Blues icon.  A revered performer known for captivating his fans, he has shared the stage with Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Steve Miller, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Leon Redbone, Sly and the Family Stone, Blue Cheer, The Spinners, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Keith Shealy, and the incomparable Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Over the last 20 years, his music has received critical acclaim with airplay in the U.S. and nine other countries.  He is a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the North Carolina Arts Council’s Fellowship in Music.

The Fest kicks off on Friday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. with a Songwriters in the Round Concert (featuring Aiken, Cason, Cunningham) at theSmithfield Little Theater (210 N. Church Street).  On Saturday, October 5, educational workshops and live performances run from noon until 9 p.m. at Windsor Castle Park (301 Jericho Road, Smithfield).  Offerings include a Songwriters’ workshop (Aiken, Cunningham), Guitar Seminar (Flowers) and Indie Music Promotion (Amy Aiken).

The live music line-up also features: LEA,The Hungry Monks and three local songwriters (Roy Moats, Scott Slay and Jacob Vanko) who earned their stage slots via Fest open-mic nights held throughout September.


Weekend Pass $35 – all events, concerts, workshops

Songwriters in the Round (Friday only) $25

Field Pass (Saturday only) $15 advance, $20 day of

Military Field Pass (Saturday only) $10 advance, $15 day of with military ID (active and dependent)

For more information on the Fest go to http://aikenandfriendsfest.com.

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8th Annual Smithfield Music’s Aiken & Friends Fest To Benefit Youth Music Education

Source: So Much Moore Media

Aiken Fest logo 2013

8th Annual Smithfield Music’s Aiken & Friends Fest To Benefit Youth Music Education

$35,000 Raised To Date

Norfolk, VA (September 10, 2013) – The 8th Annual Smithfield Music’s Aiken & Friends Fest offers more than just great music; the event also offers fun and informative workshops that benefit music education in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.  A much-touted Fest feature, the annual educational seminars offer a variety of topic choices for those who wish to learn more about the various aspects of the music industry.

  • Songwriters’ workshop – hosted by singer/songwriters Mike Aiken and Austin Cunningham.  Format governed by attendee questions.
  • Guitar seminar – taught by singer/songwriter and master guitarist Danny Flowers; open to players of any age and skill level.
  • Indie Music Promotion – insights from Northwind Records’ President Amy Aiken on the various methods the Indie artist can use to advance his career.

aiken  fest presenting flutes

To date, the Fest has raised over $35,000 in donations which has funded scholarships, tutors for gifted children and purchased band instruments.  SMITHFIELD MUSIC distributed 300 recorder flutes to Isle of Wight elementary school students.


Pictured from Left to Right:   Hardy Elementary School Music teacher Alison Chapman, Smithfield Music’s Jim Abicht and Principal Richard Crawford.


Businesses near and far are backing the expansion of youth music education with continued raffle items and a steady influx of sponsors.  “This is our biggest event of the year, and we can’t wait,” notes Smithfield Music’s Jim Abicht.  “Attendees get to hear great music in a friendly Southern town with the bonus of raising funds for an extremely worthy cause.”

Festival founder Mike Aiken says of the raffle items on hand, “I am really proud of my endorsers for supporting me, the Fest and the cause by donating such wonderful items – I’m actually envious I might not be going home with any of these.”  Recently donated raffle items include: a Takamine acoustic guitar, a Wildwood acoustic guitar, two TKL guitar cases and custom Aiken & Friends Fest case artwork by Cedar Creek Custom Case Shoppe.

Current Fest sponsors include heavy-hitting national businesses as well as faithful local supporters:

97.3 FM The Eagle
AirPlay Direct
Audio, Light and Musical
Crocker Farms
Hampton Inn & Suites, Smithfield
Isle of Wight Arts League
Newport News Shipbuilding
Northwind Records
Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism
Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Little Theater
Smithfield Music
Takamine Guitars
TKL / Cedar Creek Custom Cases
Wildwood Guitars
Performing this year in addition to Fest founder and critically-acclaimed songwriter Mike Aiken are legendary singer/songwriter/entertainer Buzz Cason  (“Everlasting Love”), Country hitmaker and guitarist extraordinaire Danny Flowers (“Tulsa Time”), Texas-born singer/songwriter Austin Cunningham (“I Love You This Much”), Folk/Blues icon Mojo Collins, talented traditionalists The Hungry Monks and Contemporary Folk phenomenon LEA.


Friday, Oct. 4 / Full Day Festival Experience

7:30 p.m. – Songwriters in the Round Concert (featuring Mike Aiken, Buzz Cason and Austin Cunningham)

Location: Smithfield Little Theater – 210 N. Church Street, Smithfield, VA 23430

Saturday, Oct. 5 / Noon – 9 p.m. – Live Performances

Location: Windsor Castle Park – 301 Jericho Road, Smithfield, VA 23430

Mojo Collins – solo (http://www.mojocollins.com)
LEA – trio (http://www.thisislea.com)
Austin Cunningham – solo (http://austincunningham.com)
The Hungry Monks – band (http:/thehungrymonks/.com)
Danny Flowers – solo (https://www.facebook.com/SoulfulDannyFlowers)
Mike Aiken Band – band (http://mikeaikenmusic.com)

Included in Saturday’s talent line-up will be a performance by elementary-aged school children from the Westside Advanced Guitar Club.


Weekend Pass $ 35 – all events, concerts, workshops
Songwriters in the Round (Friday only) $25
Field Pass (Saturday only) $15 advance, $20 day of
Military Field Pass (Saturday only) $10 advance, $15 day of with military ID (active and dependent)
Workshops $10


In 2005, the Isle of Wight Arts League entered into a partnership withSmithfield Music, a venture created by Jim and Elaine Abicht, to present performances by top tier professional musicians in the family-friendly venue, the Smithfield Little Theatre.  Net proceeds from Smithfield Music events are donated to the school music programs in Isle of Wight County.  As a program of the Isle of Wight Arts League, Smithfield Music is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and donations to Smithfield Music may be tax deductible.

Learn more about the Fest go HERE.

Get social with Mike Aiken at www.mikeaikenmusic.comFacebook and Twitter.

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Little Big Town & Hunter Hayes to Headline Blue Ridge Music Festival on June 1 in Salem, Virginia

Little Big Town & Hunter Hayes to Headline Blue Ridge Music Festival on June 1 in Salem, Virginia
Gloriana, Nashville Star Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Colt Ford, Greg Bates and More Set to Perform at Salem Stadium

General Admission Tickets Available for $35;
Limited Number of VIP Tickets Available for $99.50

Nashville, Tenn. (March 4, 2013) – On Saturday, June 1, CMA and Grammy award winners Little Big Town and CMA award winner and Grammy nomineeHunter Hayes will headline the star-studded Blue Ridge Music Festival atSalem Stadium in Salem, VaCharles EstenDeacon Claybourne on ABC’s hit show “Nashville,” GlorianaColt FordGreg BatesWill Hoge and Virginia’s own legendary party band, The Skip Castro Band, round out the lineup of this day-long event.

Tickets are currently on sale at the Salem Civic Center box officeall Ticketmaster locations and charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000General admission field tickets and reserved stadium seats are $35.00 plus additional fees. There will also be a very limited number of VIP tickets available for $99.50plus additional fees that will include:

  • Preferred reserved seating or general admission tickets
  • Preferred parking
  • VIP express entry
  • Exclusive invitation to festival after-party
  • Private bathrooms
  • Private cash bar (beer & wine only)
  • Complimentary boxed lunch
  • Commemorative Blue Ridge Music Festival poster
“We are very pleased to be partnering with Mike Smardak and the fine people at Outback Concerts on this event and hope to make the Blue Ridge Music Festival an annual event in Salem Stadium,” says Carey Harveycutter, Salem’s Director of Civic Facilities.

“We’re excited for this event,” states Mike Smardak, President of Outback Concerts.

Salem has played host to a number of major stars for stadium shows in the past decade. In 2005, Salem Memorial Ballpark welcomed Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to the stage, in 2006, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert headlined the festival and in 2011, the Zac Brown Band performed at Salem Stadium.

About Little Big Town:
Grammy-winning country group, Little Big Town–consisting of members Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman and Jimi Westbrook–first entered the music scene over 13 years ago with hits such as “Boondocks,” “Bring It On Home,” “Good As Gone” and Grammy-nominated single “Little White Church.” The quartets fifth studio album Tornado was released on September 11, 2012 and debuted at the top of the Billboard Country Chart where it stayed in the #1 position for five consecutive weeks. The album, produced by Jay Joyce, includes 2x platinum-selling #1 hit single “Pontoon” and current single, title-track “Tornado,” which is currently sitting at number 4 on the charts climbing. Collectively, the group has earned over 25 award show nominations and has taken home the award for ACM Top New Vocal Group, CMA Single of the Year (“Pontoon”) and a Grammy Award for Best Country Group/Duo Performance (“Pontoon”). The foursome has played in front of over 4 million people to-date and is currently headlining their Tornado Tour across the US and Canada and will join Keith Urban on tour later this summer.

About Hunter Hayes:
Hunter Hayes, three-time GRAMMY nominated artist – including nods for Best New ArtistBest Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance for “Wanted” – is a multi-talented writer, musician, producer, and performer. The celebrated multi-platinum selling artist is the only Best New Artist nominee to play every instrument, write/co-write every song and co-produce his critically acclaimed self-titled debut album. CMA’s reining New Artist of the Year and ACM New Artist of the Year nominee, Hayes has been touring and performing live for decades. He has played to sold out venues across the US and Canada on his MOST WANTED headline tour and is currently touring with Carrie Underwood on her “Blown Away Tour.” The Louisiana native has also shared the stage with Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, and Hank Williams, Jr. This multi-instrumentalist continues to garner praise from fans and critics alike with performances on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman Late Night with Jimmy FallonGood Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres ShowThe View and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.