DECatur – One of Decatur Barbecue’s most popular events since its inception in 1953 is the evening concert. The first entertainer for this event was Leon McAulffe and his band, who took the stage for the first performance at the barbecue. This year’s entertainers have a very strong connection to Arkansas that will resonate with all who proudly live in the Natural State.
To this day, McAuliffe holds the record for the longest run at a barbecue, 19 years to be exact (1953-72). That changed when Lloyd Peterson, one of the biggest sponsors of the barbecue, sent Decatur native Pat Austin to Nashville, Tenn. to find the best entertainers for the barbecue crowd. And Austin delivered when country music legend Hank Thompson Jr. took the stage at Old City Park in 1973 to usher in an era in which country music legends and rising stars graced the stage at this annual event.
Austin still helps the Decatur Chamber of Commerce select the best headliners to attract more and more visitors and townspeople to the BBQ each year. And this year is no different.
Blane Howard, who has had a real feel for Arkansas since growing up in the central part of the state, is the lead singer of the 68th Decatur Barbecue, taking place Saturday at Veterans Park in Decatur.
Howard was destined to be a country music singer-songwriter. By the time he was three, he was “standing in front of the television with a plastic blue-and-green guitar and singing along to Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” (www.last.fm/music/Blane+Howard).
More than twenty years later, this little boy’s dream became a reality thanks to some notable influences from Garth Brooks, Vince Gill and Randy Travis on the country side and Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC on the classic rock side. These different styles of music helped make Howard the artist he is today.
Blane Howard moved to Nashville, where he earned his degree from Belmont University, a private Christian college. Shortly after graduating, Howard began opening up to several notable country music icons, including Joe Nichols (of Rogers), Blake Shelton, Charlie Daniels, Josh Turner, and Trace Atkins.
In 2013, Howard’s country music career took off with a string of hit singles. One of Howard’s greatest achievements was a wedding present for his new bride, Megan. “Promise To Love Her” was such a hit for Howard that the song spent 17 straight weeks on Country Music Television (CMT) Music’s 12-Pack Countdown, where it spent one of those weeks at number one.
In 2014, Howard wrote Arkansas Y’all, which was selected as a finalist in the Song of Arkansas competition. A year later, he released the Razorback version of the song, which pays tribute to the Razorbacks of the University of Arkansas. Together, the pair were released as a two-song CD of the same name.
“In late 2020, as the NFL playoffs approached, Howard received a boost of recognition. With his touring on hold during the pandemic, Howard, a lifelong diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan, wrote a new song, “Run It Back.” which became the Chiefs’ new anthem during their playoff run. The song was played by radio stations throughout Greater Kansas City and on surrounding Midwestern stations. In just a few short months, the song and accompanying hyped videos racked up over two million streams and views, and the Chiefs organization used the song in one of their highlight roles, playing it during a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium” (blanehoward. com/bio).
Howard was named Arkansas CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 2018 and 2019. He “embraces his unique country style, modern and traditional, blending ’90s authenticity with today’s contemporary edge” (blanehoward.com/bio).
Blane Howard’s hits include: “Rock On Her Window”, “https://hl.nwaonline.com/news/2022/aug/03/howard-to-headline-at-decatur-barbecue/” Promise To Love Her” https://hl.nwaonline.com/news/2022/aug/03/howard-to-headline-at-decatur-barbecue/”All These Emptys” and “Arkansas Y’all.”