Student-organized concert educates, entertains

Archie Hubbard, UNA’s most recent Singing Rivers Records artist, plays March 18 at the Ritz Theater in Sheffield.

UNA’s Singing River Records, along with the Department of Entertainment Industry, put on a concert March 18 featuring local up-and-coming artists Archie Hubbard and McKenzie Lockhart.

The show took place at the Ritz Theater in Sheffield and was put on by 21 students from the artist management and touring class. The class worked with other organizations, including the Music Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA), and several faculty members.

The project was designed to give students real-world experience in the entertainment industry, said Dr. Bob Garfrerick, class instructor and department chair.

“We tried to create the real-world experience of producing and marketing a show, and all that that entails,” said Garfrerick. “This includes buying a venue, promotion, marketing and finally putting on the show.”

Blake Clark was the project manager and handled the overall operation. He said the project was a great benefit for him.

“Learning in class is one thing, but getting hands-on really puts all of the class work into perspective,” Clark said.

Putting things into perspective was fun, but somewhat challenging, for marketing and promotion leader Mason Kirkland. His job included radio promotion, organizing ticket distribution and feeling out the artists’ demographic.

“It takes a lot of work because you don’t realize who they appeal to until you actually try it,” said Kirkland. “It’s given everyone a lot of experience. It’s definitely taught me that it’s a lot harder than it seems.”

Hubbard said the show was a success and offered students a valuable educational experience, while giving Hubbard and Lockhart the publicity they need to jumpstart their musical careers. “It was a great opportunity,” said Hubbard. “I was very pleased with the crowd, sales, and after-party-everything went without a hitch.”

The show was designed to be a concert as well as a discussion of the songwriting process. Lockhart opened with a few of her own songs, and also discussed what a song means to her.

“For me, it’s the inspiration,” said Lockhart. “I wouldn’t want to sing something I don’t believe in. It’s about the story behind the song.”

Hubbard followed her by playing his debut album “The Ride.” The show also featured Erika O’Dell from WAAY 31 News who interviewed Hubbard about his life and his songwriting process.

“Go with the flow,” said Hubbard. “I write whatever is on my mind-the news, something about someone I know, whatever is pulling on my heart.”

The interview gave the concert a very close feel and showed a glimpse into the personal life of a songwriter. Sheffield is also Hubbard’s hometown, and having the concert there added a special touch.

“I was trying to reach everyone from young kids to senior citizens,” said Hubbard. “I knew if I did it here, they would be more comfortable and familiar with it.”

Hubbard thinks the show was a success, too.

“To know that the student’s did it is great,” said Hubbard. “They really are professional and smart. People will talk about this for a long time, and it wouldn’t have come off without their help.”

For the sake of full disclosure, The Flor-Ala staff would like to point out that executive editor Ben Skipworth was a member of the artist touring and management class that organized the event.