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FLIPSIDE Tate Stevens

Tate Stevens headlines the event at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15th

Southern Pride Invitational – Three-day event featuring Jackyl at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, $20; Tate Stevens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, $25; Championship Bull Riding at 2 p.m. Sunday, $30; secondary stage with continuous music all three days

Tate Stevens refused to let country music tear his family apart.

He had achieved regional success and was building career momentum that could lead him to Nashville stardom. However, the emotional pain of being away from his young children for long periods of time caused him to put his musical dreams on hold.

At the time, his band, Dixie Cadillac, was playing over 250-days-a-year and was in the regular rotation at the popular Wildhorse Saloon in Music City.

“I thought, ‘This is it. We’re here. We’re gonna make it. Somebody is going to see us and go, “My God, you’re amazing.” It never happened,’” Stevens says. “We were doing pretty well. I was making good money on the road. There were a lot of places to play back then. But in the back of my mind was, ‘When are you going to get a real job and support your family.”

His guitar went into the closet in 2000 and his musical aspirations were put on hold for a couple years. As his kids got older, he got the musical itch again. He was playing locally, making frequent trips to Nashville, while holding down a full-time job with the Belton, Mo. street department.

His wife and two children watched for years as Stevens suppressed his urge to mount a full-scale assault on the country music industry. Now that he was back in the game, they thought it would be beneficial to push him out of his comfort zone and entered him into the local qualifier of The XFactor, a nationally televised singing competition that launched in 2011, the brainchild of former sinister American Idol judge Simon Cowell.

“I said, ‘Reality shows, that’s not me.’ But when they announced the audition cities for 2012 and Kansas City was one of them, my wife and kids kept after me,” Stevens says. “I said, ‘That’s just not something that I would do.” And my wife said, ‘Well, too bad. We’ve already signed you up.”

Covering a wide-range of material, from Garth Brooks and Randy Houser to Shania Twain and Chris Young, with powerhouse vocals that mesmerized the voting audience and judges, Stevens sailed through the competition and captured the title and a lucrative $5 million recording contract late last year.

He won the contest on Dec. 20 in Los Angeles and on Jan. 3 was hunkered down in a Nashville recording studio, starting to work on his first album for a major label. He had access to the top songwriters in the business and tunes by David Lee Murphy, Ben Hayslip and Shane Minor appeared on his self-titled project, which made its debut at No. 4 on the Billboard album charts when it was released in May.

The first single released from the album was “Power of a Love Song.”

Stevens will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Black Diamond Harley Davidson in Marion, part of Gorilla Grid Media’s first Southern Pride Invitational event. Tickets are $25. The three-day event will also feature Southern metal rock band Jackyl on Friday and championship bull riding on Sunday.

“Tate is a very talented performer and a good fit for the weekend of entertainment,” says Black Diamond co-owner Shad Zimbro. “We’ve got a little bit of everything going on. There is going to be good food and great music.”

Kicking things off will be Full Throttle Friday.

Michael Ballard and Angie Carlson from the reality television show Full Throttle Saloon will set up a mobile version of the popular bar, which is located in Sturgis, S.D. and hosts 300,000 patrons during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Ballard has owned the establishment since 1999 and Carlson is marketing director. They were married last year.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the Jackyl concert. Tickets are $20. Lead singer Jesse James Dupree, who is entertainment director at the Full Throttle Saloon, carves up various items with a chainsaw during the band’s popular song, “The Lumberjack.”

Jackyl was formed in Kennesaw, Ga. In 1987 and earned a recording contract with Geffen Records. A self-titled debut album was released in 1992 and was certified platinum for selling more than 1 million units. The band has released 11 albums and cracked the Mainstream Rock charts will nine singles, with most popular tune “Push Comes To Shove” reaching the No. 7 spot in 1993.

Championship Bull Riding (CBR) Horizon League competition starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30.

“I’m really excited about the bull riding,” Zimbro says. “We are going to put the arena next to the dealership and have seating for 2,500.”

There will be a secondary stage with continuous music all three days, Zimbro said.

Southern Pride is a brand of barbeque grills and smokers. The company is sponsoring a cooking competition that is expected to drawn teams from throughout the Unites States competing for $10,000 in prizes.

VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or


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