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A spirit that is not afraid

Opelika Chamber of Commerce hosts Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

<p>Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors in Opelika on Sept. 16.</p>

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors in Opelika on Sept. 16.

People of all ages, students and families alike, gathered to see Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and The National Parks play in Opelika, Alabama. 

The concert was hosted by The Opelika Chamber and Cottonseed Studios in downtown Opelika at the John Emerald Distilling Company. 

"They attempted to get Drew Holcomb here for the past two years, but due to COVID and other issues it was delayed," said Mackenzie Poole, director of leadership and events for the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. 

Drew Holcomb explained to the crowd that it has been nearly five years since he last performed in Auburn and he was very glad to be back. 

Poole also added how great it was to have the support of local businesses in Opelika, providing food and drinks for the venue. Michael Bootz, an ambassador for the Opelika Chamber of Commerce sponsored the food court for the event, while his wife, Becky Bootz sponsored the VIP section. 

Bootz brought along one of his friends, Sam Johnston.

"This experience is great." Johnston said, "I grew up in Auburn and I've lived almost my whole life here and Opelika never had cool stuff happening. I come to Opelika to hang out now. I really like what the city and The Chamber of Commerce is doing here. This is super fun and I'm excited to be here."

Keaton Helm was working security for the event. Helm explained he got an email that said there was an opportunity to volunteer for the concert for a couple of hours then go in for free. 

"I was supposed to work tickets tonight, but now I'm back here [working security near the stage]," Helm said. "And I'm really excited I get to hear the music."

Helm was excited to finally hear them live, after hearing they had put on a concert in his hometown a few nights before. 

The National Parks is a four-piece folk/indie pop group that opened for Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, consisting of Brady Parks on guitar and vocals, joined by Sydney Macfarlane on keys and vocals, Cam Brannelly on drums and Megan Parks on violin. 

The National Parks put on an energetic show for the people of Opelika, with a joint snare drum performance from Macfarlane and Parks at the front of the stage that hyped up the crowd. 

Olivia Hunter was a member of the crowd that won a free ticket from her YoungLife club the night before the event. 

"I know the opener for the show really well. The National Parks is my favorite band," Hunter said. "I have a ticket to their upcoming concert in Birmingham and I can't wait to see them again soon."

Following the National Parks was the headliner of the event, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. 

"I've never been to a concert of theirs [Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors] before," said Auburn grad Anna Beth Freeman. "But I follow his music and I love his chill vibe." 

Both Freeman and her friend and fellow Auburn grad Allison Dees said the venue was much better than they were expecting for Opelika. 

Freeman added that she liked how they closed down an entire street for the outdoor show, including food trucks.

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Dees said, "I was not expecting it to be so big. It's such a nice idea. I wish there were more events like this."

Auburn senior Molly Grace Beddingfield is also a follower of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and brought along her friend Tara Williamson to enjoy the concert with her. 

"We prefer this a lot more than big concerts where you're crammed in with a bunch of people," Williamson said. 

Drew Holcomb is the lead singer of Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Nathan Dugger is on guitar and keys, and Rich Brinsfield plays the bass.

Their band debuted a song Holcomb recently wrote with the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show, called "Gratitude".

At the end of the show, Holcomb brought The National Parks back up on stage and they played their latest single, "Dance with Everybody". 

Harlee Meydrech | Assistant Culture Editor

Harlee Meydrech, sophomore in public relations with a minor in business, is the assistant culture editor at The Auburn Plainsman.

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