Local entertainment icon Joe Harvey will headline McMinnville’s largest stage.

City officials announced on Saturday that Harvey had been appointed manager of the Park Theater. He becomes the second manager since the historic venue reopened in May 2015.

“It’s an honor to lead something that is such a vital part of our entire community,” said Harvey. “It was too good a chance for me to pass up.”

Harvey will headline a Park Theater which is gaining momentum with some big name acts including Ronnie Milsap.

With a background that includes performing arts, music, box office and production, he’s clearly the right choice for the job. He is skilled with sound, has a natural stage presence and has been performing in front of audiences since he was 12 years old.

Harvey and his band attracted local attention when they were in high school. They set up a stage on the Nunley Stadium track and played rock songs during football games.

“We’ve been in the cover band business for a long time,” Joe said. “We ended up having our own Eagles show.”

The Joe Harvey Band is always a highlight of the Main Street Live summer concert series.

“We just love doing this show,” Joe said. “I’m the only one from the band who still lives here. The guys all love to come home and play in front of what is usually a pretty big crowd.”

Local residents have shown their willingness to pay for bigger acts at Park Theater like Milsap. Will that lead to more big names?

“People want to see notable acts there,” Harvey said. “I don’t have any specific names at the moment, but I think we’re in a great position to continue this trend. We are able to capitalize on the success of two caves and we have the market to do some real good. I would like acts that attract 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 that the concert industry has changed in recent years as COVID has halted shows and now fuel prices are rising.

“There are some artists who want to get back out there and make up for lost time,” Joe said. “But then you have to pay a lot of gas for these buses, so that the concert industry is not immune to inflation.”

Harvey is a big fan of live theater and the top quality performances that Dream Reality Group has produced at Park Theatre. He also wants to expand the stage as an outlet for local talent. “I’d like to make it more of a hub,” Harvey said.

He’s a former member of the Park Theater Advisory Board, which says he will lean heavily on this group, which is made up of community members.

“A single person making the calls doesn’t seem quite right,” Joe said. “We want to continue what works and are doing what we can to make sure Main Street stays bumpy.”

He said leaving his job in the school system will be difficult, but the opportunity to headline the Park Theater is too great to pass up.

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