The Marshall Tucker Band, Blackfoot, Jon Pardi and Sammy Kershaw will be the featured performers during the 33rd Annual Portfest “Rollin’ on the River” Festival on June 6-7. Hosted by the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, Portfest is held on the banks of the White River at beautiful Jacksonport State Park, three miles north of Newport off Hwy. 69.
One of the major Southern rock bands of the ‘70s, the Marshall Tucker Band was formed in Spartenburg, SC in 1971. They gained recognition through a tour with the Allman Brothers Band and found significant success during the course of the ‘70s, with most of their albums going gold thanks to songs like “Can’t You See” and “Fire On the Mountain.” Their peak came with the million-selling album Carolina Dreams and its Top 15 single “Heard It in a Love Song” in 1977. Since then, the group has continued to write, record, tour and entertain fans from around the world. Still led today by founding member and lead singer Doug Gray, they represent a time and place in music that will never be duplicated.
Rewind back to 1979, and you hear FM staples like “Train, Train” and “Highway Song” by Blackfoot.
Rickey Medlocke, who wrote said songs and formed the band, now plays for Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, he has also become an impresario of sorts for the sound he helped create. Hoping to find a new audience to revel in smokin’ guitar solos, Medlocke has enlisted a hearty bunch of young men to carry the torch for Blackfoot. Guitar-led rock lyrically-driven by stories of authentic America is what grabs you, and that’s what caught our attention more than 30 years ago.
Tickets for June 6 are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Kids six and under get in free. Blackfoot performs at 7 p.m. followed by the Marshall Tucker Band at 8:30 p.m.
Sammy Kershaw burst into country music with his debut album Don’t Go Near the Water in 1991, which was certified platinum. He has released 10 studio albums to date with three platinum and two gold certifications. Singles include his number one hit “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” and Top Ten hits “Cadillac Style,” “Anywhere but Here,” “Haunted Heart,” “Queen of My Double-Wide Trailer,” “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore,” “National Working Woman’s Holiday,” “Meant To Be,” “Vidalia” and “Love of My Life.” In November 2013, Kershaw released Big Hits Volume One.
California native and singer/songwriter Jon Pardi released his debut album Write You a Song in January of this year. The album includes his debut single “Missin’ You Crazy,” his second single “Up All Night,” which became his first Top Ten hit, and his current single “What I Can’t Put Down.” Pardi has a high energy approach that has landed him the opportunity to open for Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Dierks Bentley.
Tickets for June 7 are $10 either in advance or at the gate before 4 p.m.; they will increase to $15 at the gate after 4 p.m. Kids six and under get in free. Music starts at 5:30 p.m. with Arkansas’s own Four West. Jon Pardi is set for 7 p.m. followed by Sammy Kershaw at 8:30 p.m. with the fireworks extravaganza ending the show.
Tickets will be available at outlets throughout the region including Searcy, Batesville, Jonesboro and Newport. Portfest welcomes Kenny’s Funland Carnival on June 4-7 at Jacksonport State Park. In addition, attractions for kids of all ages are free with admission on June 7 and include horse rides, inflatables, a petting zoo, trackless train rides, fireworks show and much more. A buddy bass fishing tournament and horseshoe pitching tournament will also be held on June 7.
Don’t forget your blankets and lawn chairs! Coolers are welcome, but there will be a $10 cooler fee at the gate. Free parking. For a complete schedule of events, go to www.portfest.org. Find Portfest Festival on Facebook or on Twitter @portfest.