Iconic Fest returns to The Green Lantern

Iconic Fest is an annual two-day outdoor music festival featuring iconic artists of the 1970s through the 1990s. It will take place at The Green Lantern on Friday, July 8, and Saturday, and will include Phil Vassar, BlackHawk, Doug Stone and Night Moves (a tribute to Bob Seger).

Contributed / John Gellman
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BRAINERD — The Green Lantern bills its annual Iconic Fest as a “legendary musical experience.”

It’s a tall order but the bar and restaurant off of Highway 18 east of Brainerd aims to do just that, and has been doing so for the past seven years. Mark Chesnutt, The Bellamy Brothers and Georgia Satellites have performed there in the past.

“Currently, most radio station music formats and venue or festival lineups only promote the young country artists who are hot right now,” according to the event’s website. “Our vision is to tap into what we believe is a growing desire to get back to the traditions of country music.”

Headliners for this year’s two-day outdoor music festival that begins Friday, July 8, include Phil Vassar, BlackHawk, Doug Stone and Night Moves (a tribute to Bob Seger).

“We love the size of this event because it has a small-time festival feel that’s intimate with the music and to visit and hang out with friends, but yet we still have big-name legends for people to come see their favorite hits performed live,” Iconic Fest owner Erik Huff said.


Each year, a few regional artists are also invited to perform who represent music from that era so customers will be treated to high-energy bands Weekend Rockstar, Stone Daisy Band and Whiskey Trail “to get the party warmed up each night,” according to Huff.


BlackHawk kicks off the fun at Iconic Fest when they take the stage at 9 p.m. Friday at the venue located about 9 miles east of Brainerd.

BlackHawk has sold more than seven million albums during more than two decades of the group’s career and scored some of the most distinctive country radio hits of the ‘90s.

“We were three guys whose goal was to approach country with smart songs and unique harmonies for people who may not automatically like country,” said Henry Paul, BlackHawk co-founder and lead vocalist, in a news release.

BlackHawk guitarist Van Stephenson had mainstream pop success as an ‘80s singer-songwriter-guitarist, and keyboard player Dave Robbins penned hits for Eric Clapton and Kenny Rogers while partnering with Stephenson to write hits for Restless Heart, like “The Bluest Eyes In Texas” and “Big Dreams In A Small Town.”

“When it came to our vocals, we wanted the three of us to be upfront in the choruses like Crosby, Stills & Nash or The Eagles,” Robbins stated in the news release. “What set us apart from the very beginning musically was being true to who we were individually.”

BlackHawk’s 1993 self-titled Arista debut album launched with the smash single “Goodbye Says It All,” followed by the Top 5 hits "Every Once in a While,” "I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” "Down in Flames" and "That's Just About Right.”

BlackHawk followed up with albums “Strong Enough,” “Love & Gravity” and ‘Sky’s The Limit,” which featured the hits “I’m Not Strong Enough To Say No,” “Like There Ain’t No Yesterday,” “Big Guitar,” “Almost A Memory Now,” “There You Have It” and “Postmarked Birmingham.”


“Getting a BlackHawk record on the radio was often a tough sell for the same reason country radio rejected bands like The Mavericks, The Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss,” Paul stated. “But we were committed to smart, strong songs whether they fit the format or not. And the fans responded.”

But at the height of the trio’s success in 1999, Stephenson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma. Since his death in 2001, the band and its fans have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for The Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Fund.

“Our audiences today are often full of 18- to 30-year-olds,” Robbins stated. “They listened to us as kids and still have a love for the music we made. That’s a big part of what propels us to keep creating as writers and performers.”

For BlackHawk fans, the brotherhood of Paul and Robbins and their harmony remains a powerful force, according to the news release.

“When we take the stage, we work as hard as we ever have. We owe it to the music, we owe it to ourselves and Van, and we owe it to the fans,” Paul said. “Now more than ever, that’s the true legacy of BlackHawk.”

Phil Vassar

Country music hitmaker Vassar is a “piano-pounding powerhouse on stage” who will take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday at Iconic Fest.

His reign of signature songs includes 10 No. 1 singles and 26 Top 40 hits, including “Carlene,” “Just Another Day in Paradise,” “Six-Pack Summer,” “When I Love You” and more.

Vassar was racking up hits on the radio long before he even began his own recording career that has seen the release of six albums and two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year trophies.


Vassar’s songwriting career blossomed in the mid-’90s with EMI and penned hits for Collin Raye (“Little Red Rodeo”), Alan Jackson (“Right on the Money”), Tim McGraw (“For a Little While”), Jo Dee Messina (“Bye Bye, Alright”), and BlackHawk (“Postmarked Birmingham”).

Phil Vassar
Phil Vassar
Contributed / Huff Entertainment

He signed a record deal with Arista in 1998 and was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1999 and produced “incisive, soulful lyrics and infectious melodies that capture the heart and soul in the unique and special way that only he can,” according to a news release.

“Every year the customers just bring so much fun and energy to the event,” Huff said of Iconic Fest, which focuses on iconic artists from 1970-1990s whose listeners are in the age group and demographics that the festival’s organizers are looking for to support and attend the event.

Doug Stone

Stone takes the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday. When he was 7 years old, he was given the opportunity, by his mother, to open for the legendary Loretta Lynn.

Stone had already passed the age of 30 when a Nashville manager paired him up with Epic, his first record label. He debuted in 1990 with the single “I’d Be Better Off (In a Pine Box),” the first release from his 1990 self-titled debuted album “Doug Stone” for Epic records.

This album produced a handful of chart-topping singles. Following these songs was his first No. 1, “In a Different Light”. In addition, the single was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.

Doug Stone
Doug Stone
Contributed / Huff Entertainment

Both this album and its successor, 1991’s “I Thought It Was You,” earned a platinum certification. Two more albums for Epic, 1992’s “From The Heart” and 1994’s “More Love,” were each certified gold.

Stone has charted 22 singles on Hot Country Songs, with his greatest chart success coming between 1990 and 1995. In this time span, he charted eight No. 1 hits including: “In a Different Light,” “A Jukebox and a Country Song” and “Too Busy Being in Love,” just to name a few.

His third album, “From the Heart,” included two No. 1 songs among its four singles: “Too Busy Being in Love” and “Why Didn’t I Think of That.”

Iconic Fest

Tickets are available at , The Green Lantern, Gas Can Bar and Grill (next to Brainerd International Raceway), and Cub Foods locations in Baxter and Brainerd.

The cost is $40 for a Saturday-only pass, $35 for a Friday-only pass and $60 for a weekend pass through Friday, July 8, with ticket price increases at the gate.

For more information available about the two-day outdoor music festival at The Green Lantern, and its music lineup and concert times, visit or its Facebook page.

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