We are about to enter a new musical phase in Huntsville.
The Huntsville Amphitheater, as the highly anticipated concert hall was named during its development and construction, now has a new, long-term name, the Orion Amphitheater.
And the Orion booked an impressive opening celebration weekend concert, called The First Waltz, featuring a wishlist of contemporary and legacy artists from Alabama, with a focus on acts. of northern Alabama.
Scheduled May 13-15, The First Waltz will feature performances by Brittany Howard, Drive-by Truckers, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, John Paul White, Mavis Staples, St. Paul & The Broken Bones and Waxahatchee. Day tickets for May 13 (Isbell, Harris, Waxahatchee, White) and May 14 (Howard, St. Paul, Staples, Truckers) cost $ 44.50, $ 64.50, $ 74.50 and $ 94.50.
Local lineup for May 15 includes Oakwood University Choir The Aeolians, Kelvin Wooten, local art-pop singer Deqn Sue, Huntsville rapper Translee and the Huntsville Community Drumline. Day tickets for May 15 are $ 10.
Weekend passes cost $ 99, $ 139, $ 159, and $ 199. Tickets for The First Waltz go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on November 19 via theorionhuntsville.com. With address 701 Amphitheater Drive NW, Orion Amphitheater’s capacity will be around 8,000. Orion’s bowl-shaped design, similar to the Colosseum, is the characteristic look of the project, intended to do shows there. down an intimate experience for fans and performers. The site is located in the MidCity development on University Drive, on the former Madison Square Mall site.
RELATED: Amphitheater Progress Accelerates in Huntsville
The name First Waltz is a reference to the 1976 concert film “The Last Waltz” known for the collaborative performances of a cavalcade of stars from that era, including The Band, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, etc.
In the coming weeks and months, Orion will be announcing a host of standalone concerts involving rock, country, R&B, rap and jam bands. Including some really big names and artists who have never performed in Huntsville before and who probably wouldn’t come here now if the amphitheater wasn’t in play.
RELATED: 10 Perfect Bands For Huntsville Amphitheater’s First Concert
One of those headliners could easily have served as Orion’s celebratory shebang. But Huntsville Venue Group, the company hired to run, build and operate the amphitheater, wanted to do something with stronger ties to the region and the state.
“We really wanted this to be a hat trick to the legacy and future of Northern Alabama,” Ryan Murphy, president / CEO of Huntsville Venue Group, said of The First Waltz. “We had to make it one thing and make it iconic. I love watching something like “The Last Waltz” and it’s like a specific magical moment that will never happen again. He did not tour 20 cities.
Howard, a solo avant-R & B star hails from Athens and rose to fame with the band Alabama Shakes. Isbell, American superstar and new Nashville icon, grew up in Muscle Shoals. Drive-By Truckers co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley hail from the Shoals. With the Staples Singers, Mavis Staples recorded one of Muscle Shoals’ most definitive tracks, the country-funk track “I’ll Take You There”.
John Paul White, who debuted with Grammy-winning duo and Taylor Swift collaborators The Civil Wars, founded emerging independent label Single Lock Records in Florence, where he has long resided. Wooten is a much-demanded Athens-based studio assistant and musician who works with some of today’s biggest stars including rapper J. Cole and guitar-R & B supernova HER Music legend Roots Harris hails from Birmingham, as did R&B aces St. Paul and beloved indie singer Waxahatchee, aka Katie Crutchfield.
Murphy is hoping for “Last Waltz” style sit-ins at The First Waltz. For example, maybe Isbell and Harris collaborate on stage, or Howard and Staples jamming a song together, etc. Huntsville Venue Group has been working for about six months on The First Waltz. Murphy said the groundwork laid over the previous two years to kick off the amphitheater project, along with the support of Huntsville city leaders, artists’ organizations and residents, made the show less difficult than it could not have been otherwise.
Ambitions to create a world-class venue called for a different name than the Huntsville Amphitheater. Besides Orion, inspired by the constellation, other names considered over the past year include the Singing River Amphitheater, a nod to Muscle Shoals and the studio’s legacy, and Apollo Amphitheater, a reference to the Apollo Huntsville aerospace program played a huge role. But after having “run all the traps,” they came to Orion. There is already the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY, for example. The City of Huntsville Public Building Authority had the approval authority over the name of the amphitheater, Murphy says.
Murphy says the name of the amphitheater “had to be something serious, like when you say, ‘Oh man, I was at Greek last night.’ “I was at the Hollywood Bowl. “” I was at Red Rocks. “
Murphy thinks The First Waltz is “a call to action”, announcing Orion’s presence with authority. “How cool is this weekend?” I can’t wait for you to be a part of it. Hold on to your pants and wait and see what comes next.
The Huntsville Amphitheater will be a city-owned facility, similar to the Von Braun Center. Huntsville receives profits from the operation of the amphitheater, including the rental of the venue to promoters and groups, bar income, sponsorship income, etc. Huntsville Venue Group receives a lump sum, approximately five percent, for its services.
In October, Huntsville City Council approved the project, with a budget of $ 40 million. By comparison, neighboring Madison’s minor league baseball stadium cost about $ 46 million. Construction of the amphitheater is funded by the City of Huntsville’s capital plan and a percentage of future accommodation taxes. AL.com announced the news of the Huntsville Amphitheater’s ambitions in April 2018.
The architects of the Huntsville Amphitheater include Matheny Goldmon of Huntsville, whose fingerprints are found on landmarks in the city including the Propst Arena and Mars Music Hall at the Von Braun Center, and David M. Schwarz Architects Inc. of Washington. The contractor is Robins & Morton, whose past projects include the Birmingham regions land. Auburn University baseball stadium and basketball arena.