By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Country music and the Coors Light Birds Nest are fast friends, and this year’s chairman, Michael Golding, wasn’t about to put a wedge in it.
Nashville’s best takes the stage two of the four days at the Waste Management Phoenix Open concert series. Reigning ACM Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion, Midland and Brandon Lay kick off the festivities on Wednesday, January 30, followed by Jake Owen, Lee Brice and Michael Ray on Thursday, January 31.
The last two days stretch outside of country’s boundaries with the Chainsmokers and Snoop Dogg playing a sold-out show on Friday, February 1, and Martin Garrix, DJ Vice and Justin Mylo on Saturday, February 2.
“Country music is a big hit in the Valley and country performers are a lot of fun to work with,” Golding, this year’s Birds Nest chairman,
“The Birds Nest has a great reputation in Nashville. In my opinion, Old Dominion, Midland, Jake Owen, Lee Brice, Michael Ray and Brandon Lay represent the best of country music right now. We were lucky to get them signed. It’s a great start to the Birds Nest.”
Old Dominion singer Matthew Ramsey vouches for Golding’s statement. Word has traveled to Nashville about the Birds Nest. His guitarist, Brad Tursi, and drummer, Whit Sellers, are big golfers and hoping to get in a few holes.
Lay wants to give it a shot himself, even though he hasn’t hit the greens too often.
“We talked to some friends out there and they had good spots to go for a beginner, like myself,” he says. “I have so many hobbies. I’m sure my wife would like me to have another one. I figured I’d give it a swing while we’re out there.”
Lay and Ramsey, both of whom have new music ready for this year, are looking forward to sharing a stage again, as they spent the summer on Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around the Sun Tour.
“We’ve done a lot of shows with Old Dominion and this is just the cherry on top,” Lay says. “They have a party crowd following them around, and we can make new fans based on their audience. At the Birds Nest, I’ll try to warm up the crowd right with some ‘Yada, Yada, Yada’ and ‘Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers’ and people will have a good time.
“Arizona has been a good honey hole for us. Anytime we get out there, we appreciate the love. This time of year, the cold in Nashville makes it this much sweeter.”
What’s making this year’s Birds Nest sweet for Golding is the inclusion of Snoop Dogg.
“Growing up, Snoop Dogg was a favorite of mine, and a favorite of many people and a lot of Thunderbirds,” he says about the nonprofit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament and the Birds Nest. The Thunderbirds host the tournament.
“We worked with his team and it took some time, but we got him. He’s one of the best acts we’ve ever had. He resonates very well with the age range and for what the Valley is looking for in the Birds Nest acts.”
The most important bit, though, is the money the concert series brings in for charity.
“That’s our job and the best part of being in the Thunderbirds organization,” he says. “We see where the dollars go.”
The Coors Light Birds Nest is located directly across from the main Waste Management Phoenix Open tournament entrance at 82nd Street and Bell Road, Scottsdale, coorslightbirdsnest.com, 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 30, to Saturday, February 2, $65-$120.