Willie Nelson Country Throwdown comes to Coolray

Photo by Rick Olivier

Photo by Rick Olivier

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Gwinnett Braves won't be playing at Coolray Field this weekend, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time there on Sunday. The Willie Nelson Country Throwdown Tour is making a pit stop for one night only with a mixture of mainstream country artists and up-and-coming singer-songwriters on multiple stages.

"I'm really looking forward to the tour and working with Jamey, Randy and all the folks," Willie Nelson said in a pre-tour release.

In addition to Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser, Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Craig Campbell and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real will perform as well as Drake White, who was just added to the bill.

"The tour is going well," said Lukas Nelson, Willie Nelson's son and front man of Promise of the Real. "We [the band] just learned 'Sympathy for the Devil' by the Rolling Stones, so the audience is in for a treat."

This is Coolray Field's first large, mainstream concert. In 2009, Christian rockers 12 Stones performed, but at a much smaller scale.

With the G-Braves on the road for a few days, the staff is able to transform the field into a stage, plus a pit area, a standing room section, food venues and of course, plenty of portable toilets.

"The great thing about the stadium is it's a natural amphitheater," said North Johnson, the Gwinnett Braves' general manager. "Everyone will have a great vantage point of the stage no matter where they sit."

There will be double the amount of employees during the show for various reasons, but safety is the first priority. Fans are allowed on the field -- which doesn't happen often -- and there will also be a higher number of tailgaters in the parking lot that the staff will watch over.

The usual wear and tear shouldn't be a problem with the field, but the G-Braves staff is taking precautions with the trucks and trailers going in and out of the stadium.

"At the end of the day, it's only grass," Johnson said. "But when we need to get the lighting, stage and other equipment on and off the field, we are literally putting down hundreds of sheets of plywood to help from any damage."

Lawn chairs are not permitted in the stadium, but blankets are welcomed.

With each ticket bought, 50 cents will be donated to Unite the United Foundation, which raises money for a positive change in the national community by supporting grassroots charities across the United States.

The gates open at 3 p.m. and the festivities are scheduled to end at 11 p.m. No outside food or drinks are allowed. Parking is $5.