Breanna Hill, Features Editor
Jacksonville’s own country musician Riley Green returned to Burgess-Snow Stadium for another benefit concert on Friday.
The concert proceeds — which includes earnings from tickets, concessions and merchandise — will be donated to the JSU athletics program.
This concert included some of Green’s closest friends in the music industry: Drake White, Ray Fulcher, Adam Hood and Dave Kennedy. Gates opened at 5:30 p.m. and the entertainment soon followed.
JSU set the occupancy for the event to 3,500 people, required masks to be worn at all times unless eating and for social distancing to take place. However, throughout the course of the concert, several of these measures were not followed by attendees, with many ignoring social distancing and mask-wearing protocols in the stands.
On the field, tables were set up six feet apart and only one side of the stadium was available for seating.
The opening acts were allotted more time than expected and only contributed to the frenzy going on around the fans, eager to see Green perform. Green took the stage at 9:15 p.m. and was full of energy.
He played some of his biggest hits including “Georgia Time,” “Different ‘Round Here,” “There Was This Girl,” “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” and “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” while sprinkling in cover songs like “In Color” done originally by Jamey Johnson.
The presenting sponsors were given autographed guitars by Green due to their contributions to the university.
“It’s going to help the athletics department tremendously with it not having a season for football and then basketball got cut short, and baseball,” said Ed Lett, JSU’s director of athletic development and marketing. “It fills in the blanks.”
The athletics department expressed gratitude for the numerous contributions Green has made over the years.
Last year, the benefit concert raised $80,000 for the Athletics Department. The university used the contributions to create the Riley Green Performance Center in Stephenson Hall that just had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.
“I mean it is definitely a help, and Riley is generous enough to do this,” said Lett. “We can’t thank him enough.”
Green gathers much of his inspiration for music from his time spent growing up in Jacksonville, Ala. He mentions Alabama and his homegrown roots in numerous of his hits including “Georgia Time” and his latest single “If It Wasn’t For Trucks.”
“I played at every bar in town, restaurants and playing football here is one of those things where I probably got a lot of accountability which, as an 18-year-old kid, you probably don’t have,” said Green in a media interview on Friday. “There’s a lot of things about Jacksonville State, but ya know, just this town in general has always been home to me.”
When Green attended Jacksonville State and played for the football team, he had a few ideas of the direction his life would take.
“I realized I wasn’t going to play for the Dallas Cowboys,” said Green. “I told my mom I either wanted to do that or work for UPS, and I mean that one’s still on table. I just always enjoyed music and I played guitar a little bit. I started writing songs, and I think that’s what kind of opened the door for me.”
Green has been making his mark on the country music charts and recently won the Academy of Country Music Award for New Male Artist.
“It was crazy,” said Green. “I still don’t believe it. Keith Urban called me on Skype or Zoom or something and told me about it. The coolest thing about it was getting to perform on an award show. It’s something you always want and it’s a big deal.”
Green has a number of inspirational figures in the music industry he looks up to.
“One big one is a guy that sang on a song with me that also went to Jacksonville State, Randy Owens,” he said. “He’s kind of taken me under his wing, and pulls for me probably because I’m a Jacksonville State guy. Anybody from Alabama that’s doing country music has an influence on me.”
Photos: JSU Riley Green Benefit Concert (Courtesy of Coley Birchfield/The Chanticleer)
Edited: 11/22/2020, 7:30 a.m.