Country Icon graces the stage of Boot Barn Hall

by Benjamin Harrison

Written in Collaboration with The Cognitive Creative

On September 23, 2023, a country music icon graced the stage of Gainesville, Georgia’s newest entertainment venue! Grammy Award-winning artist Ronnie Milsap performed for a sold-out crowd, telling the audience more than once how grateful he was for his long-standing and successful career. With 40+ number-one hits, countless accolades, and, most recently, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Milsap remains a household name. 

While some Gainesville citizens may not recall or know about the town’s popular music venues of the 1960s, it’s certain that one gentleman in particular does! Retired Gainesville native, businessman, and arm-chair storyteller Anthony Barrett (aka A.B.) recently shared a little-known fact: As a young man, Milsap attended Young Harris College, where he met Joe Lotheridge who brought the talent over Unicoi Mountain to the Gainesville music scene.  

As a teen, A.B. (who once owned a chain of sporting goods stores) met a young Ronnie Milsap one afternoon during a Dimensions band rehearsal at the Peppermint Lounge, where he missed his one and only chance to be a famous drummer when he declined to fill the empty stool (only because he had no clue how to play the drums). A.B. recalls that Milsap was as friendly as he was talented. 

With the exception of Johnny Christopher, who is best known for his work on Willie Nelson’s hit “Always on My Mind” (with Mark James and Wayne Carson Thompson), Milsap’s early band mates went on to pursue other careers. 

“Cleon (Nalley) went on to become an attorney,” A.B. told us. “Gus Whalen was known to most of Gainesville, GA, as the president and CEO of the Warren Featherbone Company. Warner Fuselle became a famous sports commentator. Other members of the early version of the Dimensions left their music careers behind,” A.B. explained. 

The band that took shape in the wake of those early departures is nothing short of a music legend. Joe Stampley, best known for his partnership with Moe Bandy and his songwriting prowess, joined forces with Milsap, along with David Hood. Hood, famous for his work at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, shaped the music of countless artists from all genres. Jerry Carrigan, the drummer (sorry A.B., you missed your chance), went on to become one of the most sought-after session musicians along with Hood, as one of the infamous “Swampers.” 

One might say that the poultry capital of the world played a pivotal role in the careers of some of American music’s most influential artists. 

What about A.B.? He never learned to play the drums, but he’s a scratch golfer, having shot a 69 at age 68, and nearly a decade later, at 76, he’s still hitting his age range. 

As for Gainesville’s newest music venue? You can’t miss the Boot Barn Hall! It’s located downtown, right on Jesse Jewell Parkway on the Hunt building side of the square, within walking distance to the parking garage and the Civic Center. 

Boot Barn Hall seats roughly 1200 with tables on the floor and promenade level. Like to dance? There’s ample room for boot scootin’, a two-step, or your best viral TikTok moves. You’ll enjoy the rustic barn-dance atmosphere, but there will be no compromises when it comes to service, accessibility, and ambiance. 


To see a full list of events at Boot Barn Hall, visit their website HERE

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