Michael Deeds: CenturyLink Arena pumps up concert offerings

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comMay 31, 2013 

CTTouring is sliding another chess piece across the Treasure Valley concert-promoting board. The Eagle-based company has inked an exclusive contract with CenturyLink Arena to produce six to eight shows there each year.

CTTouring owner Creston Thornton is no stranger to CenturyLink Arena. His former company, Bravo Entertainment - eventually sold to Knitting Factory - had an exclusive deal for years at the building when it was called the Bank of America Centre.

Thornton remembers producing concerts at the B of A Centre by acts such as Sarah McLachlan, "Lord of the Dance," Pantera, Green Day and Jane's Addiction.

The 5,000-capacity arena has the same potential as it did when it was called the B of A Centre, he says.

"I think it's an under-utilized, great size for what's going on in the market right now," he says.

Thornton should know. He promoted his first concert in the Treasure Valley more than 20 years ago.

The CenturyLink/CTTouring partnership will kick off with a performance by political comedian Dennis Miller on Saturday, July 27. After that, the door is open. Thornton sees opportunity for comedy, family-oriented programming and, of course, concerts.

The exclusive deal with CenturyLink Arena is the third such tactical move in the past year and a half by CTTouring, which also has an exclusive on events at the Idaho Center Outdoor Pavilion (a specially configured, smaller version of the Idaho Center Amphitheater) and the Revolution Center (which Thornton owns).

Competing Boise promoter Knitting Factory runs the show at the Idaho Botanical Garden's Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series, as well as its own Downtown concert club. Both promoters produce events at other venues, too - sometimes the same ones. For example, both are doing concerts this summer at the Idaho Center Amphitheater.

• With two country stations in the Boise market, it might seem like a wise idea for Cumulus Media to consider flipping formats at either KQFC 97.9 FM or Kissin' 92.3 FM.

Or not. KQFC renewed its dedication to country music last week by rebranding itself as Nash FM. Nash is a national country brand being rolled out in multiple markets by Cumulus. In January, WRXP 94.7 became New York City's first country station in 17 years when Cumulus relaunched it as Nash FM, calling it "America's country station."

Here in Boise, Nash is slightly more humble. Between Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee" and Confederate Railroad's "Trashy Woman" on KQFC on Wednesday, an on-air promo proclaimed, "Country for the Treasure Valley. Country for life."

Don Morin, market manager for Cumulus Media, says listeners won't hear any changes in KQFC's music. But the Nash brand will give the station more firepower.

"It's going to open more doors and opportunities for KQFC in this market," he says. "Cumulus has plans for a Nash magazine, a Nash TV show - these things are all in the works. So it's taking advantage of the power of Cumulus' country footprint across the country."

And what about Kissin'?

There are no plans to change the format, Morin says. Owning two country stations in the same market is perfectly acceptable, he adds. If you flip one of the formats, you might lose listeners in the long run. But by having two country stations?

"It gives us the ability to position the two stations differently," Morin says. "Kissin's going to play the new music, and it's going to jump on the new music first, and (KQFC) is a country hit-driven station."

Æ Concert update: Buckcherry, June 25, Knit; Mac Miller, Aug. 1, Revolution Center; Brett Eldredge, Aug. 1, Knit; Daughtry/3 Doors Down, Aug. 10, Idaho Center Outdoor Pavilion; Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Aug. 29, Visual Arts Collective; Animal Collective/Dan Deacon, Sept. 7, Knit; Carbon Leaf, Oct. 15, Knit.

Notable among those dates: Animal Collective canceled on Treefort Music Fest back in March, so this is a make-up show of sorts. And if you've never heard of Charles Bradley? Definitely check him out on YouTube. A late-blooming soul singer, the man oozes suffering.

Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM "The River."

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