Sheryl Crow likely biggest performer Carbondale area will get for awhile

By Anthony Pickens

Sheryl Crow and Charlie Daniels might be the only big name musicians to appear in the area for awhile because area booking agents say they aren’t finding much use for mainstream performers.

James Karayiannis, booking agent for Copper Dragon, said the venue might not have many high-caliber performers for a while.

“It’s becoming hard to justify really high-profile bands,” he said.


However, Walker’s Bluff in Carterville will have singer Sheryl Crow June 22 and country star Charlie Daniels on May 18. Tickets for Crow are $60 and $40 for Daniels.

Jon Bunch, entertainment coordinator at Walker’s Bluff, said he would have been disappointed if the venue didn’t land big-time artists such as Crow or Daniels.

Bunch said he doesn’t recall an artist of Crow’s caliber performing in Carbondale since Metallica played in the early ’90s.

He said Walker’s Bluff wants to be taken seriously as an entertainment venue and has a goal to attract other high-profile artists in the future.

Walker’s Bluff paid more than $50,000 to land Crow, he said. There was a lot of excitement when it finished the deal, he said.

A lot of money can be quickly lost if there isn’t a big a turnout for an event, Karayiannis said.

He said in the past, artists such as Run-DMC have performed at Cooper Dragon, but bands typically perform in Carbondale before they get big or after their popularity has fallen off.


Generating enough money to land a major performer and then making a profit is what makes investing in the performer a big challenge, Karayiannis said.

Karayiannis said he understands the desire of Walker’s Bluff to bring something special to the area, but he said money spent on these performers can be used better elsewhere.

“It’s exciting and fun, but it’s entirely risky business,” he said.

Curtis Conley, booking agent of PK’s and the Varsity Center for the Arts, said he tends to stay away from most mainstream performers and goes after underground bands such as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

“We have to work within the budget,” Conley said.

He said turnouts for events can go either way, and it’s just as easy to make money as it is to lose it from events.

He said the size of venues does not justify an attempt to go after a major performer.

Conley said he follows this business model for both The Varsity and PK’s.

Nick Shuman, booking agent at Hangar 9, said he follows a similar approach, and the bar’s capacity can’t justify large performers.

A much bigger venue than Hangar 9 is needed to bring in a star of Crow’s caliber, he said.

Since being the booking agent at Hangar 9, Shuman said he’s never attempted to go after a high-profile star. He said if a top-notch performer was coming to Hangar 9, they would have to charge fans $50 for a ticket.

“Most students can’t afford prices that large,” he said.

A few students on campus only go to concerts that feature artists they actually care for.

Brianna Johnson, a graduate student in linguistics from Wheaton, said she usually talks about going to concerts with her friends but doesn’t go because of time spent on school work.

Johnson has been to a few jazz concerts at Global Gourmet and said she is only interested in going to concerts if she thinks the performers have talent.

Megan Ratts, a senior from Heyworth studying zoology, said she does not go out of her way to pay for concert tickets for performers she doesn’t like. She said most students probably feel the same way, and that’s maybe why there isn’t as big of a turnout for a concert.

She said students probably don’t come to many concerts because the performers probably don’t interest them.

When Johnson learned Sheryl Crow would be performing over the summer, she said she would be interested in going to her concert.

Crow’s big name and beautiful voice would attract her to come to the concert, she said.

“I want to tell my kids one day I went to a concert with Sheryl Crow,” she said.