Put the words "Miami" and "music" together and what comes to mind?
Among the last possible things that your salsa-loving, DJ Khaled-blessed soul probably envisions are cowboy hats, down-home lyrics, and country-fied chords. Whereas West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale regularly host big-name country acts and the annual Tortuga Festival, respectively, Miami has never been a destination deemed worthy of a "yeehaw" on the country map.
Sunday, September 3, the inaugural Tequila Bay Country Music Festival will hit the iconic Miami Marine Stadium Park with such stars as Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore, Montgomery Gentry, Tyler Farr, RaeLynn, and Brooke Eden.
“There is no reason country shouldn’t have a place in Miami,” says Nelson Albareda, the Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning record producer who is also CEO of Loud and Live, the company presenting the festival. “Music is part of my DNA, and our city is such a melting pot. We’ve been working upwards of eight years to bring this event to life.”
All tickets to the festival include access to not only heaps of twangy tunes but also free tequila tastings from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Casa Tequila area. Yes, free tequila for three whole hours. As Albareda says: “There will be tequila for all.”
Organizers expect 10,000 attendees, so that’s going to be a lot of tequila.
Also rounding out the experience will be food trucks galore, an Inside the Gate Tailgate area with yard games, a private VIP section, and the Country Fan Zone.
The festival marks the first dedicated music event at Miami Marine Stadium in about 25 years. The venue hosted the likes of Queen, the Beach Boys, and Jimmy Buffett before Hurricane Andrew left it structurally unsound in the early '90s.
“Nineteen ninety-two was probably the last time we had a concert there,” says Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso. “So, from our perspective, we are beyond happy that a venue that went silent for more than 20 years is coming back to life. With the renovation of the full stadium coming, people can see what exists and what can be done.”
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According to Alfonso, with Phase I (the analysis phase) of the Miami Marine Stadium revitalization in the books, the city is now in Phase II (construction and design review) and will soon put out a call for bids for operators to manage the space.
“We’re restoring what is a historic building to its former glory,” Alfonso says. “We’re also working on what we want to do with the hardscape around the stadium... how we can make it more attractive and usable, with perhaps temporary-use facilities, a skateboard-type park, an RC racing area, or more active attractions.”
With the arrival of Tequila Bay Country Music Festival, it’s a good day for both country music and Miami history lovers.
Tequila Bay Country Music Festival. With Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore, Tyler Farr, Montgomery Gentry, Brooke Eden, Raelynn, Shelly Fairchild, and others. 11 a.m. Saturday, September 3, at Miami Marine Stadium Park, 3501 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne. Tickets cost $55 to $150 via tequilabayfest.com.