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Country music concert July 19
Singer Billy Dean.

Country music star Billy Dean is scheduled to headline a concert at J.F. Gregory Park on July 19.

Opening up the show will be country singer-songwriter and Springfield native Hannah Dasher.

The back-up band for both artists will be Savannah band The Rogues, which will perform its own tunes as well.

In addition, the winner of Saturday’s Richmond Hill Idol contest will be invited to perform.

Admission is free, but promoter and Richmond Hill resident J.R. Gill encourages attendees to make a donation to help offset the cost of the event.

"We’ll have a donation box at the entranceway," Gill said. "No one is required to contribute, but anything would be much appreciated."

Gill said this whole thing started out as a private party to celebrate both his wedding anniversary and his 35th year of being a concert promoter.

"By the time we finished planning it, we decided to allow the public to attend as well," Gill said. "And this is a good way to celebrate the city and the fact that we’ll be bringing many more concerts to Richmond Hill."

Gill, who lives in Richmond Hill, said he anticipates a large turnout.

"I already know of at least a thousand people from Effingham County who are coming to see Hannah Dasher," Gill said.

Gill, who is a member of the Country Music Association and the Grammy Academy, said he discovered Dasher several years ago and has introduced her to some of his contacts in Nashville.

He also got her into the George Jones University in Franklin, Tennessee - a training ground for aspiring country artists.

Dasher is currently a senior at the University of Georgia and you may know her as the girl who sings the National Anthem before most UGA football games.

"She has an incredible voice and it’s just a matter of time before he makes it big," Gill said. "I’m going to introduce her to Billy who is known for helping fellow musicians."

Dean has sold over six million records and has won many Grammy and American of Country Music Awards, including "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "Songwriter of the Year". He just released the album "I Pray", which will be available for purchase at the park.

Dean will be flying in from Nashville as he is slated to perform at the Grand Ole Opry the night prior.

Gill said The Rogues are "quite a spectacle and bring with them a lot of instruments. They’re like the Swingin’ Medallions...but better."

The event will be held under the covered pavilion. Seating is very limited, but lawn chairs are permitted.

Food vendors will be on hand for the event. Also for sale will be $5 raffle tickets with the winner to receive a guitar autographed by Dean.

Attendees are permitted to bring their own beer or wine, but it must be carried in small personal coolers and must be poured into cups as exposed cans or bottles are prohibited.

"I’m excited about it," Mayor Richard Davis said. "I’ve offered Mr. Gill all the encouragement in the world for what he’s doing. It has been my dream for a long time to bring concerts to J.F. Gregory Park."

Davis said construction of an amphitheater inside the park will begin after the Seafood Festival in October, "which will be a great setting for future concerts."

For more information on the event, call 441-8156.

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