NOAH’S ARC: Singer/songwriter Noah Kahan, shown here performing at OVO Wembley Arena on Feb. 14, is among the headliners for the inaugural Lovin’ Life Music Fest in Charlotte. (Getty Images)

New fest builds on promoter’s events across Carolinas

Southern Entertainment has expanded its roster of festivals to the Lovin’ Life Music Fest,  a new three-day event in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city where the promoters call home.

Two months out, the May 3-5 festival, taking place in uptown Charlotte, has completed the lineup of about 40 acts, headlined by Stevie Nicks, Post Malone and Noah Kahan.

The Avett Brothers, who hail from Concord, North Carolina, about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, were among the final dozen artists announced in late February.

Maggie Rogers, The Chainsmokers, Dashboard Confessional, Dominic Fike, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, The Struts and Charlotte’s very own DaBaby are among the other artists booked for Lovin’ Life, spanning multiple disciplines.

Bob Durkin, co-owner of Southern Entertainment with Rob Pedlow, is a New York transplant who’s lived in Charlotte for more than 25 years. At one time, they ran a few restaurants and bars in town, namely Black Finn, Whisky River, a partnership with former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Dixie’s Tavern, where they staged live music in the parking lot.

Gravedigger’s Ball and Uncle Sam Jam were two of the festival-style shows they put on in Charlotte.

Ten years ago, Durkin and Pedlow formed Southern Entertainment and started producing multiday festivals, starting in 2015 with Carolina Country in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Since that time, the firm has expanded to producing country fests in Greenville/Simpsonville, North Carolina; Marietta, Georgia; and Wildwood, New Jersey. In addition, Southern Entertainment books talent for music series at Symphony Park in south Charlotte. Starting this year, the promoter kicks off “The Citadel Live,” at Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel’s football venue in Charleston, South Carolina.

In Charlotte, which hasn’t had a multiday music festival in the uptown district since CityFest in the early 2000s, Durkin expects to plant a stake, developing Lovin’ Life into a long-term event. He’s banking on one of the country’s fastest growing cities and its younger demographic to help build the festival into an annual destination. The music scene is diverse and Live Nation, for example, runs two busy amphitheaters every summer, he said.

LOVIN’ IT: Southern Entertainment’s Lovin’ Life Music Fest is the first multiday music event in uptown Charlotte in 20 years. (Facebook)

Most important, despite its rapid growth, Charlotte maintains a small town feel due to easy access to the airport, abundant hotels and light rail service. All told, those factors show the city is ready for a three-day event, Durkin said.

Since Lovin’ Life was announced in early December, the three-day plus general admission tickets have sold out, an upgraded package with private access to bars, food service and restrooms.

Three-day tickets remain for general admission, VIP and Super VIP. Ticket prices run $300 to $1,300 a person, depending on the category. Early bird GA tickets were priced at $200.

Durkin feels it’s a fair price for three days full of music. There are no plans to sell single day tickets, but that could change closer to the event, he said.

“We’re bringing in the highest level of talent,” Durkin said. “Noah Kahan is screaming up the charts, and if people don’t know him now, they’ll know him by the time the festival hits. He has sort of a cult following. After people see him, they’ll be a Noah Kahan fan for life. He’s done songs with Post Malone, Zach Bryan, Kasey Musgraves and the Lumineers. He’s diversified himself to get out there and expose his music to different types of music listeners.”

Apart from national acts, one stage will showcase about a dozen local and regional bands, which is important to growing the festival, Durkin said.

“The music scene in every city is about the young people and what they create and they need a platform to push it out there,” he said. “If we get some of the greatest artists in the world (for the event), we’ll have music fans coming to this stage and maybe help jump start somebody’s career.”

The food setup will be a mix of portable stands and food trucks. Durkin hopes to incorporate some local brands in a city whose culinary reputation has grown significantly over the past decade. Johnson & Wales University, a culinary arts school in town for the past 20 years, has produced some of those chefs that have spawned many higher-end restaurants and James Beard Award Winners. Southern Entertainment will control all alcohol sales, he said.

Sponsors include Coors Light, Jack Daniels, Tito’s and Monster Energy. Durkin said he’s pursuing a presenting sponsor for the festival, although no deal had been announced as of this week.

All told, Southern Entertainment expects to employ 500 people for the event. Southern Entertainment is working closely with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and fire departments, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and Center City Partners to promote Lovin’ Life and ensure a safe event for all patrons.

“We’re real excited about this one because it’s music for everybody in our hometown, which means a lot to us,” Durkin said.