The Back Porch Revival: A Kinnick concert with a cause
Former Hawkeye football star Dallas Clark felt helpless watching the Iowa flood of 2008 wreak havoc on Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Preparing for his next season as a tight end for the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts, he wasn't able to give as much help as he wanted.
"You felt helpless, and you just felt bad for everyone in town," Clark said Wednesday. "When you're away, and stuff like that happens, you just feel terrible."
That feeling of helplessness and of wanting to do more dug into Clark's head and became the inspiration for The Back Porch Revival concert that will take over Kinnick Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the same venue where Clark spent his All-American college football career.
The massive concert is expected to draw more than 50,000 people to see country stars Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Big and Rich, and other artists and also serves as the first major fundraiser for The Native Fund, the charitable organization started by Clark last year to help Iowans dealing with natural disasters.
"The one promise we really want to do, if people donate to us, is that we're streamlined: The most funds possible will go to Iowans," Clark said in a phone interview with the Press-Citizen. "It's Iowans helping Iowans."
The Native Fund aims to be "not the Red Cross, but a little more unique, specific" to Iowa when it comes natural disaster relief, Clark said, with major backing from fellow Iowa natives like actor Ashton Kutcher and professional golfer Zach Johnson.
When Clark was a member of the Colts — a Super Bowl-winning and offensive record-shattering football franchise during Clark's time, with teammates like Peyton Manning — he recalled being invited to just about every black-tie charity fundraiser and gala in the land. If he were ever to raise money for his own charity, Clark knew he would want to do it in a "unique and different" way.
"God just put it on my heart," Clark said of the idea to hold a Kinnick concert. "It was one of those things that really made sense to me. I loved music my whole life, but I have no musical ability whatsoever. I love going to concerts, I love live music, so a live music charitable event just made sense."
After retiring from football in 2014, he found working to make his idea of Iowans helping Iowans "a natural thing to do in retirement." In 2015, The Native Fund officially became a 501c charitable organization with the idea that The Back Porch Revival concert would act as the world's introduction to the charity.
Hawkeye nation reacts
The concert and the new nonprofit were announced with a public announcement on the screens of Kinnick during the UI game against North Texas last year. The idea impressed fellow Hawkeye and All-American kicker Nate Kaeding as soon as he heard it.
"Any excuse to get into Kinnick Stadium with thousands of other people is always a good idea," Kaeding said of the Back Porch Revival. "I thought it was a great idea and was sort of wondering why something like this hadn't happened before."
The event marks what is believed to be the first time a major concert has been held at Kinnick, said Phil Haddy, former University of Iowa sports information director. During his 41 years on the job, Haddy said he had never heard of anything like a concert on the football field.
"Kinnick Stadium, from a fan's point of view, is one of the best stadiums in the country," Haddy said, noting that the compact design of the stadium means fans are closer to the field than at most other football stadiums. The stadium's close quarters, while great for fans on gameday, mean it can't easily be converted for non-football uses.
Throw in the fact that Kinnick was built in 1929, 36 years before The Beatles ushered in the era of stadium concerts with the band's 1965 show at Shea Stadium in New York City, and it becomes clear the stadium was built in an era in which stadium concerts weren't even imagined as potential uses by the companies that built it. "What (the) crews are doing to get the stadium ready couldn't have been done 40 or 50 years ago," Haddy said.
Clark knew going in how nontraditional — and logistically difficult — the Back Porch Revival would be when he first contacted UI about the idea, making his alma mater's full support of his idea all the more gratifying.
"The doors just kept opening and opening," Clark said. "There were so many times along the way where people could have said no, but it was meant to be."
Kaeding said the idea behind the Back Porch Revival is evidence of the current UI athletic department and Clark "thinking outside the box for the good of the community."
Despite The Back Porch Revival being a historic event for the 87-year-old stadium, Haddy said he would be surprised if he didn't see more of these sort of events in Kinnick's future.
"The idea of a charitable concert at Kinnick reinforces what Iowa is all about: You go anywhere in the country, and you know what they say about Iowans — that they're good people," Haddy said. "This event is good people doing what they can for other good people."
What's good for people is also good for business, said Kaeding, who is the retail development director for the Iowa City Downtown District. Noting that there are "many" benefits to having a major university in town, one of the more unheralded benefits are events at the soon-to-be open Hancher Auditorium, the new Voxman Music Building and Kinnick drawing in lots of visitors to the area.
"We take for granted that these special events don't happen in other markets," he said. "They're a huge boost to all the local businesses."
Next up for Back Porch, Native Fund
Up until 1 p.m. Saturday, when the gates to Kinnick open to fans for The Back Porch Revival, Clark said those putting on the concert will be "keeping our noses down, keeping it to the grindstone" promoting the event and making sure the concert goes off without a hitch.
"I'm kind of a perfectionist. I love that so many people have bought tickets, but I want the entire stadium sold out. That's just who I am," Clark said. "You can be a Cyclones fan and you'll have fun at this, so I want everyone to come."
Clark said he has already started thinking about another Back Porch concert in the future, saying it was "something we obviously want to happen again," but "you gotta impress the boss; we gotta hit a home run with this event."
As for The Native Fund, Clark said the nonprofit was "still defining" what it does, saying the reach charity does could expand.
"There are so many great organizations, so much great work already being done already, we want to help in areas that have been unmet," Clark said.
As the nonprofit grows, Clark said he wants to help focus more attention to post-9/11 war veterans and children dealing with deadly disease.
"We don't want to piggyback off others — call the TV and newspaper reporters and just cut a big check. We want to help people, and be a little more tactile with how we help."
Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg.
More details about the first concert in Kinnick Stadium:
On Saturday Dallas Clark, native Iowan and former Hawkeye and NFL football player, will announce the details of a concert at Kinnick Stadium in August 2016 to benefit his newly created nonprofit organization the Native Fund.
If you go:
What: The Back Porch Revival, a country music concert event featuring seven artists performing over 11 hours as a fundraiser for The Native Fund nonprofit.
Where: Kinnick Stadium, 825 Stadium Drive, Iowa City.
When: Parking lots open at 10 a.m.; gates to Kinnick open at 1 p.m.; music starts at 3 p.m.
Tickets: Concert tickets and tickets for parking can be purchased at The Back Porch Revival's website.
Schedule: Hunter Smith Band 3-3:30 p.m.; Morgan Frazier and David Ray 3:45 -4:30 p.m.; Tucker Beathard 5-5:45 p.m.; Big and Rich 6:15-7:15 p.m.; Thomas Rhett 7:45-9 p.m.; Blake Shelton 9:30-11 p.m.
What you can bring: Policy for Back Porch is the same as Hawkeye games for what you can bring to the stadium, which includes clear plastic bags, clutch bags, diaper bags and 1-gallon clear plastic bags. No alcohol or weapons can be brought into the stadium.
Weather: There is 40 percent chance of rain Saturday, but most precipitation is expected in the morning hours. The event is rain or shine, so bring a poncho or umbrella.