Trick Pony: Small venues helped them get to the top

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

For country artists Trick Pony, playing small towns like Ironton is all about "gaining one fan at a time," said bass player Ira Dean.

Coming off a good year in 2002, the band received five nominations at last month's 38th Annual Country Music Awards including Top Vocal Group, Album Of The Year for "On A Mission," Single Of The Year and Video Of The Year for "Just What I Do."

Trick Pony headlined Wednesday's events at the Tri-State Mega Festival & Fair.

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They opened with their hit song "On a Mission" and quickly worked the crowd into a frenzy that continued well into the night.

Overall, the band said they enjoy the opportunity to play in towns like Ironton for their everyday fans that may not have a chance to see them otherwise.

"That is the reason we are here," guitar player Keith Burns said. "That is what we do best."

Lead singer Heidi Newfield said they have tried to emulate one of their biggest influences, Willie Nelson, when it comes to performing live.

"Willie can always put butts in seats. He can pack a coliseum or play to 500 people in a bar," she said. "It means a lot when people can get up close. It is more intimate and one on one."

The band likes to get out and see the towns where they play but because of busy schedules, are rarely able, Keith said.

"What I really enjoy, when I get the chance, is to get out and do a 3-mile run around the town," he said. "But because of the weather and because we stayed (in Huntington, W.Va.) I was not able to do that."

"I like to do a 3-mile drive," Ira said with a laugh as he blamed his lack of exercise on the corn dogs at events like the Mega Fest.

Even though the weather had not cooperated and the Ironton Commerce Center was muddy, the entire band was excited before Wednesday's concert.

For Ira and the rest of the band, it is all about entertaining the fans.

"We want people to forget about their mortgages. Forget about their bills and have a good time for the two hours we are playing," Ira said.


the concert will be something people will remember, Heidi said.

"I hope people take away some musical memories and say, 'Damn, that was a good show,'" she said. "It does not matter where we play, when we see enthusiastic fans we give 110 percent."

"It does not matter if we are in a sold-out arena or a wet field," Ira said.

The mud did not matter to Wayne County, W.Va. resident Teresa Brown either who came out to see both Trick Pony and Joe Nichols.

"Tonight is probably the only night I will come. They both have great songs and I love their videos," she said. "It is great to bring these people to Ironton. To be honest, I did not even know where Ironton was at until tonight."

After playing for their fan club in Nashville the night before, the band finished up in Ironton and prepared to hit the road again.

"Keith says it best. We get paid to travel and play for free," Ira said.