Craig Stahl


1993 Alan Jackson built a house on Center Hill Lake outside Smithville, Tennessee. It was, and still is an awesome showplace overlooking a point with a breathtaking view, although a few trees were blocking some of the view. Alan cut down the few "offending" trees which it seems were located on Army Corps of Engineer Federal Government land. Alan was in some trouble with the Feds when a deal was cut.....we'll forget about the trees if you record some Public Service Announcements for radio about safe boating.... oh and play a free concert on the lake! This would not be your average venue for a concert, this show took place at a remote site on Center Hill Lake that you could only attend by boat! The site was so remote that a road had to be built to the shore line just to get the tour trucks and buses into the site. We built a huge stage and roof top right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lake. The front edge hung over the water and you could jump off the stage into the water. The show was only advertised by word of mouth and a few posters hung at local marinas. The crowd that showed up however was huge! There were boats everywhere as far as you could see.   

There was a pontoon boat that they sold T-Shirts from and since there were no restrooms available a small barge was filled with with Port-a-Potties. It was an adventure to put the show on but it was so successful and Alan had such a good time that we had to do it again.....and again.....and again! When I was Alan's Production Manager it was my job to somehow organize and create a concert site that could be turned into an outdoor amphitheater on water, there were no roads, no pavement, no facilities, no food, no drinks, no electricity, no nuthin'! With the help of a GREAT road crew, and much help from Alan's tour vendors, Showco, Bandit Lites, Moo TV Video and the TWRA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Ben Jumper at Mid-America Staging and Crew-One we were able to pull off the CenterHillBilly Lake Show a few times.

                              Boats Arrive Early AM

These shows were a lot of work, and were produced completely by the Alan Jackson tour and office staff. I'm not lying if I say they were some of the most difficult gigs I ever did, and never thought that I would do one like it again......SO I was very surprised when early in 2009, Alan's management contacted me asking if I would be interested in coming out of "show biz retirement" temporarily to help put on another Lake Show. Enough time must have passed and the memories faded about how much was involved in putting one on that before thinking about it too long I agreed to help with the event.  

                           View of Stage from Boat

This time the proposed venue was Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama. Why Lake Martin? Well it turns out that Lake Martin was where Alan and his family camped and boated during Alan's childhood years. The hit song 'Drive" was written about his Dad teaching Alan how to drive the "old plywood boat, with the 75 Johnson, 'lectric choke" Another reason was Lake Martin is home to one of the world's largest Sea Ray Boat dealers, Russell Marine. Russell Marine and Sea Ray Boats were putting on their yearly event 'AquaPalooza" which was similar to the old AJ CenterHillBilly shows. It seemed destined to be a partnership. CMT was brought aboard to produce a television special.


John Garriott, Alan's current Production Manager and myself drove back and forth from Nashville to Lake Martin many times during the planning stages of the show. We met the folks at Russell Lands, Dave Commander and Robert Gunn, and from Sea Ray Boats, Robb Noyes, Kelby Shymlock,and Keith Phillip that would put together an amazing team to pull off this huge event. We were shown the proposed site and it was perfect! The CenterHillBilly lake shows had been in very remote spots with rough terrain to build the stage on. This site had ample boat parking, pavement to get trucks and buses in and out, electricity, running water and all the resources of Russell Lands to get the job done. This site also had fairly flat terrain so we could pull in a huge mobile stage provided by Mike Satrezemis and Jim Brammer at Filmwerks Intl and Special Events Services. Their man Mark Davey was invaluable in implementing the production....a real pro!

                         You Want To Do What Here?!

                          Draw It And They Will Come!!


                           Boats Arriving Early AM

                             Alan Arriving at Show



               AJ Throws a Guitar Pick to a Drowning Fan



                         A Big Time Was Had By All


Showco/Clair Bros handled the audio for Alan Jackson and S.E.S. handled all the festival support acts. Lighting was handled by Bandit Lites and S.E.S. under the watchful eye of Bob Peterson and John Lucksinger. Video was handled by Scott Scovill and Moo Tv. Alan's Stage Manager Joe Stogner with help from yours truly kept the bands on time. Crew One Atlanta supplied the hard working Stage Hands and Soundcheck Nashville brought the backline equipment for all the acts. It was a great show and a good time was had by all! After the show we loaded everything out and got some sleep before heading back to Nashville. John Garriott and I stayed all week at the "Kawliga Cabin", it was owned by legendary singer/songwriter Hank Williams Sr. Hank wrote the hits "Kawliga" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" while spending R&R time at the cabin. Hank's cabin was awesome, a great view. It is rustic with a simple interior with modern HVAC. It was cool to spend time where some songwriting history was made.


Hank was at the cabin one weekend for some R&R and got drunker than "Cooder Brown" and headed into town for more "groceries". Well he ended up getting in a fight and raising a ruckus and spent the night in jail. Lucky for us Alan behaved himself slightly better at Lake Martin.

  Hank in the Alexander City Jail or is it young Phil Somers              

Muchos Gracias to Showco/Clair Brothers, Bandit Lites, Moo Tv, Real World Tours, HK Management, Filmwerks Intl, SES, Martin Fischer, Edie Lynn Hoback, Russell Lands, Dave Commander, Robert Gunn, Shelby Shymlock, Keith Phillip, Robb Noyes, Sea Ray Boats, Crew One, Soundcheck Nashville, Debbie Doebler, John Garriott, Joe Stogner and the Alan Jackson Road Crew, The Strayhorns and CMT, and anybody else I have forgotten. Without you all and your expertise this show would not have been possible.  

This show was a blast!

You can see for yourself one of these days on CMT.

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