The chance to sample great competition-quality barbecue and a fun, fair-like atmosphere are two of the things Artesians have come to expect of Smokin’ on the Pecos.
But the annual barbecue cook-off has also become known as an entertainment destination for music lovers from throughout the region. Last year’s two-day slate of concerts, which featured country star Jo Dee Messina, brought upwards of 5,000 people to the Eddy County Fairgrounds. And with a popular headliner returning this year, SOTP organizers David and Vickie Grousnick are bucking to surpass that mark.
Tejano legends Little Joe y La Familia will once again grace the Yates Petroleum Stage Friday, June 24, and New Mexico’s own Bri Bagwell and The Banned will headline Saturday, June 25, complete with a full slate of talented supporting acts for a lineup that promises to heat up the event even as the barbecue pits are cooling down.
“We’ve got another exciting lineup this year,” said David Grousnick. “These are some great bands, and we think everyone who comes out is in for a good time.”
Little Joe y La Familia is a multi-Grammy-winning tejano group led by Jose Maria De Leon Hernandez, “Little Joe,” that has been entertaining audiences for decades with its energetic sound and stage presence.
“They’re a family-friendly and a multi-generational act,” said Grousnick, noting families from great-grandparents down to toddlers have made special trips to SOTP to see the band.
Little Joe is set to hit the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, preceded by the Tejas Brothers at 6:30 p.m. and the Cavern City Boys of Carlsbad at 5 p.m.
The Tejas Brothers, hailing from Mansfield, Texas, are a “Tex-Mex honky-tonk” band who describe their sound as “George Jones meets Freddy Fender, Dwight Yoakum meets Los Lobos, and Buck Owens meets Ritchie Valens.” Their upbeat blend of accordion, harmonica, electric guitar, steel guitar, upright bass and percussion promise to get the crowd on its feet.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, Bri Bagwell and The Banned will make their SOTP debut.
Bagwell is a Las Cruces native and an up-and-comer in the world of country music. Following a top-10 finish on CMT’s “Next Superstar,” Bagwell formed The Banned in 2011, and the group released its first album, “Banned from Santa Fe,” that same year. She was named Texas Female Vocalist of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Brother and sister duo Laura Leigh and Will Jones of Nashville, Tenn., will open for Bagwell at 6:30 p.m. with their smooth country sounds, and The Electric Cowboys, a three-time-Grammy-nominated country group from San Antonio, Texas, will begin the evening of music at 5 p.m.
Tickets for Friday’s concerts will be $15 in advance, $20 at the gate, with children 5 and under receiving free admission. On Saturday, in an effort to offer an affordable evening out for families, tickets will be $10 both in advance and at the gate, courtesy of sponsorships by HollyFrontier, Santo Petroleum and Artesia General Hospital.
All tickets may be purchased in advance from brownpapertickets.com or at Hotel Artesia. Purchasing online gives the buyer the option of having their tickets mailed to them or sent to their mobile device, printing them at home, or picking them up at will call at the event.
Concert-goers are also reminded no coolers or outside food or drink will be permitted in the concert area.
Those not planning to attend the shows should be aware the SOTP gates will close at 5 p.m. each day in preparation for the entertainment, and those who wish to remain inside the stage area must pay the ticket fee. As the event’s barbecue vendors are also located inside the concert area, one vendor will be available at the Artesia Horse Council Arena – where the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association will once again be holding a world shoot – for those just looking to purchase dinner.
“We really want to thank our sponsors for their support and encourage everyone to come out for some great barbecue and music,” Grousnick said.