Local entertainment icon Joe Harvey will manage the grandest stage in McMinnville.
City officials announced Saturday that Harvey has been named Park Theater manager. He becomes the second manager since the historic venue reopened in May 2015.
“To be able to manage something that is such a centerpiece to our entire community is an honor,” said Harvey. “This was too good of a chance for me to pass up.”
Harvey will lead a Park Theater facility that’s gaining velocity with some big-name acts, including Ronnie Milsap.
He’s an obvious fit for the job with a background that includes performing arts, music, box office sales, and production. He is experienced working with sound, has a natural stage presence, and has been performing in front of audiences since he was 12.
Harvey and his band grabbed local attention when they were in high school. They would set up a stage on the Nunley Stadium track and perform rock songs during football games.
“We’ve been in the cover band business for a long time,” said Joe. “We had our own Eagles show at one point.”
The Joe Harvey Band is always a highlight of the Main Street Live summer concert series.
“We just love playing that show,” said Joe. “Of the band, I’m the only one who still lives here. The guys all love coming home and playing before what’s usually a pretty big crowd.”
Local residents have shown a willingness to pay for larger acts at Park Theater like Milsap. Will that lead to more big names to come?
“People want to see notable acts there,” said Harvey. “I don’t have any names in particular right now, but I think we’re in a great position to continue that trend. We’re positioned to play off the success of two caves and we have the market to really do something good. I’d like to have acts that will bring in people from out of town.”
Cumberland Caverns has brought big names to Warren County to play underground and The Caverns in nearby Pelham is also a popular regional venue.
Harvey noted the concert industry has changed in recent years with COVID shutting down shows and now rising fuel prices.
“There are some artists looking to get back out there and make up for lost time,” said Joe. “But then you also have to pay for a lot of gas for those buses so the concert industry is not immune to inflation.”
Harvey is a big fan of live theater and the first-rate performances Dream Reality Group has produced at Park Theater. He’d also like to grow the stage as an outlet for local talent. “I’d like to make it more into a hub,” said Harvey.
He’s a former member of the Park Theater Advisory Board who says he will lean heavily on that group which is composed of community members.
“A single person making the calls doesn’t seem quite right,” said Joe. “We want to continue what’s working and do what we can to make sure Main Street stays bumping.”
He said it will be tough leaving his job with the school system, but the chance to manager Park Theater was too great of an opportunity to miss.