By Rebecca Fiedler
For anyone wanting “two tickets to paradise,” this weekend, Indian Spring Park might just be the place, as Eddie Money will be headlining the Brazos Nights concert from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at the downtown venue. Opening for Money will be historic Waco musician Classie Ballou Sr. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Brazos Nights concerts have taken place in Waco since the late 1980s, said Jonathan Cook, who works in community promotions with the city of Waco.
Over the years, big names in music have performed for these concerts, Cook said. Many times the concerts have featured more country music, he noted. Some performers have been artists who later became big names in music but were not yet as famous when they performed at Brazos Nights, Cook said. Blake Shelton and the Dixie Chicks have played at Brazos Nights. Eddie Money is one of the bigger names that they’ve had perform, Cook said.
“Eddie Money obviously is a huge rock star from the ’70s and the ’80s,” Cook said. “For several years now we’ve wanted to get some classic rock artists onto the bill, and when it comes to name recognition, you don’t get much bigger than Eddie Money.”
Eddie Money has had hit songs like “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” He’s been featured recently in a Geico commercial. He still tours across the world, Cook said.
This is a concert that will appeal to multiple age groups, Cook said. Younger people respect Eddie Money because of the 1980s vibe and nostalgia of his music, while older people remember Eddie Money music from when they were in high school.
“So it sort of fits in with the vibe that we try to offer with our downtown concerts,” Cook said.
Ballou will play with his band before Money, performing with his own children and grandchildren, Cook said.
“Classie is, oh, I’d say 75 or 76 years old now, and has played all his life,” Cook said.
Ballou is known for blues and zydeco music, Cook said, which is a type of Cajun Louisiana blues. He’s originally from Louisiana and was a pioneer of zydeco, Cook said.
“Classie’s got a really interesting story. We’ve worked with Classie before. He’s lived in Waco an upwards of I think 40 or 50 years now.”
In the 1960s and 1970s Ballou played with artists such as Ike and Tina Turner. Any time a blues or R&B group came through Central Texas, Ballou always opened up for them with his band Cook said. Two weeks from now he’ll be in New Orleans playing the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
“He’s sort of an unknown treasure that we have here in Waco,” Cook said.
Historically, Ballou played at Walker’s Auditorium in Waco, which isn’t standing anymore, but in the 1960s and 70s it was a mecca of blues and motown artists, Cook said.
“There’s not really a festival in Waco that Classie hasn’t played,” Cook said.
Ballou will open for Money at 7:15 p.m. and Money will perform at about 8:30 p.m., Cook said.
Cook expects about 7,500 people to attend Saturday’s concert and encourages people to come early. It’s a free outdoor event with free parking around downtown.