Written by: Rachel Elizondo
Austin McAlpin has a wealth of traditional country music knowledge. When talking about a group or artist, he can name their top hits just off the top of his head.
As a young boy growing up in Moultrie, McAlpin listened to traditional country, but never dreamed he would make music his career.
For those who have attended a country music performance in South Georgia, there is a good chance McAlpin Entertainment produced the event. Officially starting his business in 2012, McAlpin has brought artists Mark Chestnut, Joe Diffie, Joe Nichols, Marty Stewart, Travis Tritt, Lee Ann Womack, and more to South Georgia.
Located in Tifton, McAlpin Entertainment specializes in concert production and consultation, talent buying, and online artist marketing.
The idea for the business struck McAlpin when he was in his early 20s, after putting together a party that turned into an outdoor concert with five locally known musicians. Using a flatbed trailer for a stage and 2×4’s with black tarps for a backdrop, McAlpin says 500 people paid cash at the entrance for his concert in the small town of Pavo.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it as a business at the time,” says McAlpin, but the next day, he realized it was something he could do for a living.
At the start, it was something fun. “I didn’t feel like that I was working,” says McAlpin. “And I made some pretty decent money for something that was just supposed to be a get together to hang out with my friends.”
Later, he started devoting more of his time to the concert business and began representing bands and artists as a booking agent. Over the years, McAlpin has landed more prominent names, both for his concerts and as an agent.
“It’s kind of funny looking back on it because as the concert side was snowballing, the booking side was snowballing too,” says McAlpin. “I ended up getting to where I was actually working with some of the guys in Nashville that were with bigger agencies, and they had some success.”
One of McAlpin’s first clients, Buddy Jewell, season one winner of Nashville Star, whose first two singles “Sweet Southern Comfort” and “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song),” landed in the top five on the singles chart.
“After that, you couldn’t tell me nothing,” he says. “I was off to the races and hungry and naïve, and it’s dangerous to be both, but it’s a good thing too. You don’t know what you don’t know and trust me—I didn’t really know a whole lot.”
While McAlpin still represents Jewell, more than five years later, he has also been able to grow his business.
McAlpin says people travel from across the country, and internationally, to South Georgia for concerts he produces. He recalls last year that a concertgoer came from the United Kingdom to South Georgia for a Joe Nichols concert.
In the past three years, McAlpin says, concertgoers traveling to South Georgia have represented more than 300 cities, and 21 states. He estimates that people travel an average of 170 miles to come to a McAlpin Entertainment concert.
While he doesn’t have a specific dollar amount, McAlpin says he is confident the concerts are making an economic impact in the area through food and lodging.
Despite his success and the impact it has made in South Georgia, McAlpin says he tries to stay humble. “I just had a wild idea and thought it might work, and it has so far.”