Local musicians were in the spotlight as part of a new Tennessee Department of Tourist Development campaign to encourage people to visit the Volunteer state.
The Soundtrack of America Made in Tennessee live concert series kicked on Monday in Memphis, Tuesday in Nashville and Wednesday in Knoxville.
All three shows were streamed live on a video wall in a busy part of downtown Chicago. State officials said it’s the first time anything like this has been done, and they hoped it not only highlighted Tennessee music, but encouraged people to come experience it firsthand.
“When you are trying to do an advertising campaign and promote who you are, you have to distance yourself from everyone else who is trying to do the same thing by doing it differently,” said Kevin Triplett, Commissioner of Tourist Development for the state of Tennessee. “We’ve been very blessed to have people consider Tennessee as a destination and we want to raise the bar.”
Citizen Cope performed in Memphis, Jason Isbell and Old Crow Medicine Show performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and Ashley Monroe was set to perform in Knoxville.
It was a unique experience for the artists, who were surrounded by cameras, and were able to interact with fans in Chicago.
“I think it’s a good way for us to perform for a different group of people and I’m interested in the technology behind it too,” said Jason Isbell.
“There are some really nice folks up in Chicago and they love Nashville,” said Ketch Secor, a member of Old Crow Medicine Show. “This is a way of celebrating the relationship between Nashville and Chicago.”
Tourism officials said they targeted Chicago because it’s a top tourism market for the state. Due to the close geographical driving range, and number of direct flights, it is an easily accessible destination for tourists. The campaign also comes right before the start of the busy summer travel season.
Officials said 2014 was a record year for tourism in Tennessee. For the first time more than 100 million visitors came to see the state. Numbers for 2015 haven’t been released yet, but officials are expecting another big year.