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Big country music act coming to River Falls

Write it on the calendar: River Falls is going to have itself a concert.

Neal McCoy, TNN (The National Network, now Spike TV) and Country Music News' 1999 entertainer of the year, will perform live at PR's Place, 1107 South Wasson Lane, from 5-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5.

And that's not all. Opening for McCoy will be 2005 American Idol runner-up Bo Bice.

This is the first major concert event Chris Brookins, owner of PR's Place, has scheduled since he bought the business in May.

On June 24, Brookins approached the City Council with a request for a "one-time noise variance" for an outdoor concert. The event, he said, would be a test run to find out if the community is interested in seeing big-name live entertainment.

This concert is it, Brookins said last week.

He chose the performers based on a couple factors.

"One, I thought country would go over best in this town," he said. "And two, I got a good price."

Preparations for the concert are keeping him busy.

"It's a 40-hour-a-week job putting this together," he said.

Not only does he have to make sure the site is ready, but he said he's meeting with vendors, keeping in contact with the City Council, police and fire departments, the security company he chose to work with and his own internal staff. He is also arranging parking locations to accommodate the 2,000-4,000 people he hopes will attend.

Police Chief Roger Leque expressed some concerns about managing traffic and parking in the area and said he plans to step up staffing during the concert. Leque also emphasized the point that, because of the noise variance the City Council granted to Brookins, the police will not be able to respond to any noise complaints due to the concert.

"We just want to make sure that it's well managed," Leque said.

Brookins said he hired a professional security company to manage the event. In fact, it's the same company protecting the presidential candidates in the upcoming Republican National Convention. Brookins said he trusts the company's ability to ensure everyone at the concert is safe.

This isn't the first event Brookins has held at PR's Place, though it will be the first outdoor concert. He has hosted a number of tribute bands already, including tributes to Tom Petty, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Journey, among others.

If the McCoy/Bice concert goes well, Brookins said he wants to keep going with more bands and concerts.

"This is what I bought this place for," he said.

He added that he hopes PR's can be more than just a bar. He said he wants it to be a place where people can bring their kids as well. He also mentioned the possibility of hosting cancer benefits.

"If there's something I can do to help, I'd love to do it," he said.

Tickets for the concert can be bought from Ticketmaster or PR's Place for $35 before the show or $39 at the door. Brookins added that he will also be selling a limited number of tickets for an indoor meet-and-greet session with both bands. A complete list of events and features at PR's Place can be found online at