DEADWOOD, S.D. – The sounds of live music will be echoing through Deadwood from Memorial Day through Labor Day, thanks to the largest series of open-air concerts in the town’s history, it was announced Friday.
Staged at Deadwood’s new Outlaw Square on Historic Main Street, the nine ticketed events will attract as many as 2,500 concert-goers per performance and will include premiere VIP seating at Hickok’s patio, the Franklin Hotel’s veranda and the Silverado’s Outlaw Deck, said Marc Oswald, CEO of Oswald Entertainment Group, a live concert, music video and television production company based in Nashville, Tenn.
“In my 40 years of touring on the road in America, starting with Alabama in 1980, I’ve never seen a more special entertainment venue than Deadwood, South Dakota, and I want to do everything I can to elevate it,” Oswald said. “The Outlaw Square that Deadwood smartly constructed right downtown gives us the venue to do something pretty special, and this place, this town, is very special.”
Oswald, the long-time manager of country music duo Big & Rich, and many other acts, has previously produced numerous music videos and live television specials in the Black Hills, including “Big & Rich: Wanted Alive in Deadwood,” a two-hour special that aired 47 times on CMT. He compared Deadwood’s Outlaw Square, which opened one year ago, to some of the most iconic concert venues in the U.S.
“It’s so visually appealing,” Oswald said. “It’s like Red Rocks in Denver, and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles — stunning visuals with incredible music and that’s a big thing.”
The Deadwood Live! Open-Air Music Series kicks off May 29 with Big & Rich featuring Cowboy Troy. Big Kenny and John Rich wrote a significant portion of their first smash-hit, multi-platinum album, “Horse of a Different Color,” in Deadwood, including fan favorites “Wild West Show,” “Deadwood Mountain,” “Six-Foot Town,” and the Grammy-nominated tribute, “The Eighth of November,” based on the personal story of long-time Deadwood resident Niles Harris, two decades ago. The duo fell in love with the fabled Wild West town, and have returned to play performances in the Black Hills region ever since.
“Our whole career started when we played our first gig in Deadwood in 2002,” Big Kenny said from his Nashville home this week. “I don’t even know how many studio albums we’ve done since then – seven or eight I suspect. We’ve toured the country, Canada and the world and it’s been a wild ride. But Deadwood is like a home away from home where we know so many people and we feel so lucky to have the opportunity to return. It’s still got that small-town feel and there are so many friends that we just love the vibe.”
Big Kenny said that, like virtually every musical act in the country, Big & Rich has been sidelined from live performances for more than a year by the COVID pandemic. He added that he hopes this new concert series in Deadwood would signal some return to normalcy.
“I think that everyone who comes to these concerts is going to have an absolute blast,” he said. “And, everyone has a pent-up urge to go hear live music and they’ll be super excited to be at a concert again. Add that to the fact that Deadwood ranks right at the top of our list of destinations that everybody ought to visit in this country. It’s got a decidedly American cultural theme, and it’s got fun and entertainment all wrapped in some of the most gorgeous scenery in America.”
The night after the Big & Rich concert, the alternative rock superstars Sublime With Rome take the stage May 30. Additional headline concerts include Clay Walker on June 13, Jamey Johnson on July 2, Dwight Yoakam on July 3, Dustin Lynch on July 11, Gary Allan on July 25, and the Old Crow Medicine Show on Aug. 1. Capping the music series on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4, will be a No. 1 smash hit-fest from The Frontmen of Country, featuring ‘90s country superstars Tim Rushlow of Little Texas, Larry Stewart of Restless Heart, and Ritchie McDonald of Lonestar.
Outlaw Prime Season Tickets go on sale March 29. Other tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. April 9 and may be acquired at deadwoodlive.com or by calling 605-717-7016.
Deadwood Mayor Dave Ruth, a life-long resident of the community, said he was most grateful that concert series organizers picked his community as the venue for its musical performances.
“The Deadwood Live! Open-Air Music Series will be bringing in top-quality, high-class acts that normally we wouldn’t get to see,” Ruth said. “We always wanted big acts for Outlaw Square, which is one of the reasons we built that stage as big as we did. Somebody recognized that quality and we’re grateful that Oswald Entertainment Group is coming in and staging this concert series, without asking the chamber of commerce to bear responsibility for events such as this.”
Tom Rensch, managing partner of the Historic Silverado-Franklin Gaming Complex, said his organization was thrilled to partner with and be in close proximity to the new concert series.
“These events are going to be huge for Deadwood because we’ll be bringing national acts to that wonderful new stage,” Rensch said. “We’re so excited to have Oswald Entertainment Group, with Hickok’s Hotel & Gaming and Outlaw Square, involved in this endeavor because it’s going to change the dynamics of Deadwood. Marc Oswald has been awesome to work with and we’re grateful he’s helped to make this all happen.”
Rensch also predicted that the music series would be wildly successful.
“People who love live music will understand how unique this is,” he said. “We fully expect to be sold out for every performance. And people love things that are sold out in this small, incredible western town. The energy of a sold-out event is something pretty special.”