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The Live on Main concert, which closed down a stretch of Highway 51 and corralled thousands of people to the center to town on Friday night, almost didn’t happen.

“So many people told me this would never, ever work,” said Curtis Conley, the event coordinator. “It was like every step of the way, people were skeptical and convinced we couldn’t pull it off.”

But Conley, with the help of headliner Jason Isbell, did just that.

Roughly 5,000 concert-goers filled the street on Friday in an event that Conley and city officials deemed an overall hit. While general admission was free, all of the VIP tickets, which ranged from $25 to $200, were sold out.

“We’re extremely happy with the event; we got everything we wanted out of it,” Conley said. “It feels really good to say, yes, we did pull it off.”

And everything, from the parking to the detours, went smoothly, said Assistant City Manager for Economic Development Gary Williams.

“It was well-attended and everyone seemed to be having fun,” Williams said. “If we can continue to have positive events that draw people to our downtown, the city would be interested in having more events like this.”

In fact, that’s exactly what Conley, who is the president of Carbondale Music Coalition, has in mind.

Conley sees Live on Main as a catalyst — for the city’s independent music scene, for a friendlier view of downtown, for more things like Friday’s show. He wants to launch Live on Main as a series, with six shows per year at different locations around town.

“The first time I looked out on the crowd and saw a big portion of them singing along, word for word, that really stood out to me,” Conley said. “You see people dancing around, embracing the same moment and I knew it was working. It was catching on.”

Along with adding a spark to The Strip, the concert brought a lot of out-of-town visitors to Carbondale.

Liz Darby drove from St. Louis to catch Jason Isbell on stage for free, and she was pleasantly surprised at how the small-town-show was set up.

“You definitely felt a buzz that this was an exciting event for the town and people were enjoying each other whether they really knew what was going on stage or not,” said Darby, 31. “There was quite a mix of people there, which made it seem like the event was successful at really pulling people of all types together to check out what was happening.”

Moving forward, Conley hopes the community is on board for more shows of the Live on Main variety.

{span id=”docs-internal-guid-90a7f5b2-5e04-4ea5-8aca-039fb42e8124”}{span id=”docs-internal-guid-90a7f5b2-5e04-4ea5-8aca-039fb42e8124”}“Everyone is quick to talk negatively about The Strip and something like this can really turn that around,” Conley said. “We’re trying to bring a light to this town that really seems to need it.” {/span}{/span}

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859-797-2474 618-351-5074 amanda.hancock@thesouthern.com @Amanda1hancock

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Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering Franklin and Perry counties.

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