Tasked with finding the main act for the first show of the new Brownstown Summer Concert Series, Tawnya Fleetwood didn’t have to look far.
Her father, Lanny Hattabaugh, is the front man for the southern Indiana-based band Fabulous Hickbillys.
Fleetwood said she grew up with her father doing band sessions in their living room, so music comes natural to her.
“To me, he is a rock star,” Fleetwood said.
Hattabaugh, a Pekin native who now lives in Salem, picked up a guitar when he was 12 and taught himself how to play. He has spent more than 45 years crafting his art.
“I know their talent abilities,” Fleetwood said of the Fabulous Hickbillys. “They are so professional, their sound system is amazing and they play all spectrums of music, from blues to classic country to new country to classic rock. You’re going to hear it all, and they are just crowd-pleasers. They really are. They are really good at working the crowd.”
At 6 p.m. Friday, Forrest Turner and Justyn Underwood, both from Medora, will be the openers before the Fabulous Hickbillys take to the stage from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Heritage Park, 121 E. Walnut St., Brownstown.
The concert is free, but Pewter Hall and On Target BBQ will have food and drinks available for purchase. People may bring lawn chairs to the event, which will be conducted rain or shine.
Joining Hattabaugh are Ray Bowling on vocals and lead guitar, Sam Pate on vocals and drums and Richard Wright on bass guitar.
Bowling has worked with Hattabaugh since 2004, while Wright came on board in late 2010. Pate was added in the winter of 2016. All three are Austin natives, but Pate now lives in Scottsburg.
For years, Hattabaugh’s backup band was called The Hard Tymes Band. Eight years ago, the group name changed to Fabulous Hickbillys and top-40 country material was added to the classic country the group had always played.
They made an agreement to only play music they loved, Bowling said.
“We decided we would not cave and do music that we didn’t like just to please the masses,” he said. “Our philosophy is and has been that if we do the music we like — for example, the country classics — even if you’re not a fan of classic country, if we sped it up a notch and played it a little more aggressively and sounded good doing it, that would translate.”
That approach has worked.
“One of the biggest compliments we get from someone hearing us the first time is, ‘I haven’t been a big fan of Merle Haggard, Waylon, Willie or David Allan Coe, but the way you guys do it makes me want to go buy their records,'” Bowling said.
“Playing cover songs — and we cover a lot of musical ground — is not necessarily a glamorous job at all,” he said. “However, doing it with great friends, along with getting paid well to do it and doing it every weekend, is great.”
Bowling said the full band has not played in Brownstown before, but he and Hattabaugh have done some acoustic shows at the watermelon festival in years past and at Blondie’s Pizzeria & Pub, which is run by Fleetwood and her husband, Mason.
The Fabulous Hickbillys also have played a lot in Seymour.
“We have a nice following from Jackson County,” Bowling said. “We have many from there that follow us to Scottsburg, Salem, Madison, North Vernon, and a few have made the trip to Jeffersonville, New Albany and even Louisville.”
They are excited about kicking off the new summer concert series and playing some classic country, new country, classic rock and original tunes.
“I’ve had it highlighted on our calendar since confirming the booking,” Bowling said. “We want the folks who come to the inaugural event to feel like they are at a real concert. We want them to go home, look up our social media page and regular website page and let us know how they liked the show.”
The concert series is being organized by Brownstown/Ewing Main Street.
Fleetwood, who serves as secretary of the nonprofit organization, said each member of the concert series committee chose to lead one of the shows planned this year.
The other acts are Claudia Hoyser, May 18; Six Ways to Sunday, June 15; and U4IA Band, July 3. Hoyser is an up-and-coming Nashville, Tennessee, artist, while the other two are local acts.
The Peoples Bank is sponsoring Friday’s concert, and Carl and Jenny Shake are sponsoring the second one. Individuals, businesses, organizations or industries interested in being a sponsor for the other two shows may contact Fleetwood or another Brownstown/Ewing Main Street board member.
The July 3 concert will include kid-friendly activities and fireworks. The Jackson County Watermelon Festival had fireworks until that event dissolved in 2016, and Fleetwood said Brownstown/Ewing Main Street thought it would be good to bring that back.
“The fireworks is a big success, and I think the people in the community really enjoyed that,” she said. “We’re looking forward to that. I think it’s going to be exciting to put on an event like this, a family-friendly environment that everyone can come out and enjoy, all ages.”
A concert conducted last year at Heritage Park after a wine festival in town was a success and led to the creation of the summer concert series.
“I just feel like it’s our way of reaching out to the community,” Fleetwood said. “We want to utilize this beautiful new pavilion that has been built. It’s definitely a great addition to the town, and we just want to bring awareness that it even exists because there are still so many people that aren’t aware of its existence in the community. It’s there, we want to utilize it and we want to do something for our community.”
What: Brownstown Summer Concert Series opening show
When: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday (rain or shine)
Where: Heritage Park, 121 E. Walnut St., Brownstown
Who: Forrest Turner and Justyn Underwood will perform starting at 6 p.m.; Fabulous Hickbillys will play from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; Pewter Hall and On Target BBQ will have food and drinks available for purchase