Nick Rogers: ZZ Top, Brooks & Dunn tops in ticket sales

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

When charging a record $38 for Friday night Illinois State Fair Grandstand tickets, a double bill that promises both boot-scootin’ and tube-snake boogies seems the way to go.

Aug. 15’s dual headliners — ZZ Top and Brooks & Dunn — share that same top ticket price with platinum pop artist Fergie, Aug. 8’s opening-night act. But the country-classic rock combination has nearly doubled up the Dutchess in ticket sales — and dollars — so far.

As of Sunday, at an average ticket price of $34 after factoring in less expensive seats for both shows, ZZ/Brooks had sold 7,345 tickets to Fergie’s 3,724 tickets.

That puts ZZ/Brooks on pace with 2007 numbers from Daughtry. Fronted by “American Idol” star Chris Daughtry, the rock band brought in a fair-high 12,142 fans to last year’s Grandstand.

While a distant second, Fergie’s numbers suggest the Black Eyed Peas vocalist gone solo will surpass opening-night totals from 2006 (Bow Wow, 4,215) and 2007 (Gretchen Wilson, 5,777).

In 2007, a double bill of Corbin Bleu and Drake Bell represented the only pop act. About 7,000 attended that show, which had a cheaper cost ($20 for all seats) and artist fee ($75,000) than Fergie.

Vanessa Hudgens, Bleu’s “High School Musical” co-star, has some more work to do on the pop-songstress front this year. She’s opening for British singer Natasha Bedingfield at an Aug. 16 concert currently last among tickets sold, at 1,489.

Trace Adkins, the only other country act on 2008’s Grandstand bill, is in third place at 2,709 for a fair-closing Aug. 17 performance. The Aug. 10 ’80s-rock double bill of Huey Lewis and the News & Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is at 2,174 tickets. And “Weird Al” Yankovic, the parody master who has a fair-low ticket price of $10 for some seats at his Aug. 9 concert, is at 2,025.

That makes for total ticket sales of 19,466 — down from 27,513 on the same date a year ago. But it’s not quite an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Fair spokesman Jeff Squibb says tickets for 2007 Grandstand acts went on sale about two weeks before this year’s tickets did, which would account for at least part of the discrepancy. (Last year’s attendance wound up at 44,658.)

“We’re not looking at a doubling from this point but you could do the calculations and it’s pretty close,” Squibb says. “Ticket sales may be a victim of the economy, but we’re hoping that between now and the start of the fair, people who perhaps had been thinking about a vacation will decide to stay home and take in a fair concert.”

Nick Rogers can be reached at 217-747-9587. Read his blog at