NEW YORK CITY — Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and Brad Paisley will headline FarmBorough, the first-ever country music festival in New York City. The three-day event is scheduled for June 26-28 on Randall’s Island.
In retrospect, a multiday country festival seems almost inevitable. Not so long ago, however, it would have been hard to imagine such an event in New York City.
During a Wednesday morning (Oct. 29) press conference at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Bentley joined festival organizers to announce the event.
Over the last few years, the market for country music in New York City has radically changed. Between the arrival of WNSH (Nash FM), the city’s dedicated country radio station, and sell-out shows by the likes of Bryan and Eric Church, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to mount a major festival. That someone turned out to be Brian O’Connell and Jordan Wolowitz.
“I saw a big hole,” said O’Connell, Live Nation’s president of country touring, who has previously created such country festivals as Watershed and Faster Horses. “I thought, ’What’s the craziest thing that I can do next?’ And into my life walked Jordan Wolowitz, who said, ’Hey, you crazy S.O.B. Let’s go to New York City!'”
“It’s just a no-brainer,” commented Wolowitz, festival co-founder and partner at Founders Entertainment. “The timing is perfect, and the timing is now.” Expounding on the current crossover potential for country, he proclaimed, “It’s going pop with a capital P.”
FarmBorough will take place at Randall’s Island, a spot easily accessible by public transportation and the site of the annual indie-rock festival Governors Ball, one of Wolowitz’s most successful projects to date.
In addition to Bentley, Bryan and Paisley, the FarmBorough roster will also include Ashley Monroe, Brandy Clark, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Houser, Maddie & Tae, Kip Moore, Wade Bowen and the Cadillac Three.
Noting the full lineup hasn’t been confirmed yet, O’Connell added, “We’ve got a few surprises.”
At the press conference, he did let it slip that the first act performing on the first night will be rising artist Canaan Smith. The plan is to feature six artists each day on the main stage and around five a day on the Next From Nashville stage, which will be for what Wolowitz described as “tastemakers and up-and-coming artists.”
Bentley has his own relationship with New York City.
“The first time I played New York was B.B. King’s back in 2003,” he recalled. “It’s an amazing place to be. It makes me excited for our fans to come and see the city. … There’s a lot of country people in the state of New York alone, and Jersey and Philadelphia, they’re out there.”
“Even if you’re a marginal country fan and you live in New York City, wander down to Randall’s Island and see what’s going on,” O’Connell said.
And for a festival with a capacity for 40,000-50,000 people per day, FarmBorough is expected to appeal not just to a national audience, but even an international one.
“Gov Ball, we sold tickets in 70 different countries,” Wolowitz recounted. “Ideally with Farmborough it’s 80.”
“This is a global destination,” O’Connell. “We’re sticking our necks out there. I’m uber-passionate about country music and country music festivals. I’m really excited. We want people to come to New York City and see what this place has to offer.”
Touting FarmBorough as an ideal vacation plan for country fans from all over America, O’Connell stated the appeal of the destination in no uncertain terms.
“Your favorite artists are gonna be here in one of the greatest cities on the planet,” he said.
Tickets will go on sale Nov. 6. For more information, visit the festival’s official website.