Last May, Erykah Badu electrified fans when she came into the crowd, mic in hand, and sang and partied during her memorable Funk Fest performance at Wolf Creek Amphitheater. But Ms. Badu, says Sandy Poag, the South Fulton venue’s entertainment manager, is no exception.
“Boney James did that on our last show. It was phenomenal,” Poag shares. “He came out in the rain and serenaded the crowd and the VIP tables and came up into the reserve seats. Howard Hewett has done that. Kem did that this last year. Stephanie Mills. Ken Ford.”
And this season, which kicks off Mother’s Day Weekend, on May 7, with A Night of Classic R&B featuring Stephanie Mills and Jeffrey Osborne with Howard Hewett, promises to keep the party going. There’s the two-day 2016 ATL Soul Life Music Fest Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 and 29, featuring Lalah Hathaway, The Robert Glasper Experiment, Syleena Johnson, Eric Roberson, Anthony David, Kindred the Family Soul, Avery Sunshine, Rahsaan Patterson, Goapele and Angie Stone. Plus the popular Affordable Old School Concert Series, with such artists as El DeBarge, En Vogue, 112 and Jagged Edge, as well as the Wolf Creek Jazz Festival featuring Will Downing, Rachelle Ferrell, Najee, Kirk Whalum and more. “Over 100 artists will grace our stage,” says Poag.
That, of course, is great news for South Fulton residents. Since its inaugural free concert with India.Arie back in 2011, Wolf Creek, the one-time shooting facility for the 1996 Olympics transformed into a 435-acre amphitheater, has been delivering top-notch entertainment rivaling that of other venues throughout the city. And Poag, whose duties encompass everything from booking the artists, handling the marketing and public relations and purchasing radio, TV and other media to overseeing security, venue logistics, vendors and more, is one of the reasons why.
The Atlanta native, who grew up in Southwest and Fayetteville, does all she can to ensure that patrons have the best experience possible, from their bathroom visits (Poag jokes that she’s known as “the plug-in queen” for her penchant for air fresheners) to the actual show. For the Howard University alum who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years in various capacities, some even using her law degree, pleasing patrons is first and foremost.
“We really create a party atmosphere out there. They’re not just concerts. They are really the largest parties in Atlanta. That’s the way I push it. That’s the way I branded it and that’s the way we have really gotten very loyal patrons from the services that we provide out there,” Poag says.
“Wolf Creek was needed because there was not an amphitheater in South Fulton that caters to the music tastes of the citizens of South Fulton County,” Poag explains. “Wolf Creek currently offers eight different genres of music such as jazz, R&B, reggae, gospel, old school hip-hop, blues and funk. Each year, we try to add a new genre to serve the South Fulton community.”
Keeping the experience affordable is also top priority. “We really give you a value for your money, for your tickets,” Poag stresses. “We give you a comedian. We give you a DJ and then we give you a concert, the artist. So, with all three of those things, that’s a value for your ticket. And then we also offer affordable pricing for our tickets.”
Tickets, which can be purchased through Ticket Alternative, as well as at the box office and select Atlanta metro outlets, typically range from $35 for general seating to $95 for VIP table seating.
“My goal is to keep things affordable so that everybody, no matter what your income is, can at least find one or two shows at Wolf Creek that you can come out and bring your significant other and have a nice evening,” says Poag. “And then we’re offering free parking, free shuttle bus. I mean we really give you a value for your money. You can still bring in your own food, your own beverages, even though we have vendors on site and we have food trucks going forward.”
Last year, fifteen of Wolf Creek’s twenty shows sold out so Poag suggests getting tickets, which went on sale a month earlier this year, to such popular shows as the Affordable Old School Concert Series and Old School Hip Hop Fest at least a month before the show, especially since out-of-state fans do travel in. Early arrival day of the show is highly recommended and so is parking in Lot D and taking the shuttle bus.
“Be prepared to party from start to finish at Wolf Creek,” says Poag. “Our DJs are the best in the city so bring your dancing shoes. Dress casually in comfortable clothing. Please remember that these are not concerts; these are the largest outdoor parties in Atlanta.”
Visit WolfCreekAmphitheater.com for more details regarding tickets, cooler sizes, cameras and more.