SIOUX CITY | Hard Rock Hotel & Casino entertainment manager Brad Streeter isn't above doing a bit of manual labor on a sunny afternoon in June.

"If my crew is getting the Battery Park stage ready for a concert, I'm right there helping out," Streeter said, referring to the team of 45 production coordinators, stage hands and hospitality workers. "I'm not their boss, I'm their leader. They're not my employees, they're my family." 

Battery Park will open for its third season of summer outdoor concerts with an entirely different kind of family at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Willie Nelson & Family, with special guest Robert Earl Keen, will bring a unique outlaw country sound to the Hard Rock venue.

"Willie's an American icon," Streeter said. "Having him open our 2017 concert series is huge for us."

So was Hard Rock's recent nomination for the Academy of Country Music's "Casino of the Year - Small Capacity" industry award.

"Being recognized after only three year is just insane," Streeter said. "That goes to show Siouxland is becoming a destination point for live music and audiences are responding positively."

Indeed, a June 30 concert headlined by 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band Journey, along with special guests Asia, has the honor of being the fastest show to sell out in Battery Park history.  

"Journey tickets went faster than (country superstar) Chris Stapleton (a headliner from the 2016 summer series)," Streeter said. "Selling out an arena the size of Battery Park is no small feat."

That's especially true since the capacity of Battery Park has increased to around 5,000 people this year, about 1,000 more than last year.

"We've rejiggered things a bit while increasing the number of seats available in our VIP section," Streeter said. "Even with more people, there still will never be a bad seat in the house."

Which is very important to Streeter, who recommended that concert-goers arrive early for shows.

"What happened at Ariana Grande's concert (in Manchester, England, where 22 people were killed in a terrorist bombing on May 22) has had an impact on every entertainment venue," he said. "That means there will be more security on hand, protecting both our performers and our patrons."  

In other words, don't be surprised if you're stuck in a line.

"Our doors will open at 6 p.m.," Streeter said. "If you come early and get a drink, you'll be able to settle in for some first class entertainment."

This includes a Country Music Festival featuring Billy Currington with Chase Rice, Whiskey Myers and Fillmore (July 22); a Classic 99 Block Party starring Bret Michaels, Great White and Slaughter (July 28); and a Z98 Invasion capturing Five Finger Death Punch with All That Remains and Arson, which closes Battery Park's summer series on Sept. 1.

In addition to that lineup, Streeter said he's also looking forward to alternative rocker Alanis Morissette, who will grace the Battery Park stage on Aug. 26.

"C'mon, it's Alanis Morissette," Streeter, 35, said with a big smile. "Alanis' 'Jagged Little Pill' was totally my musical jam in middle school."

As workers continued to prepare Battery Park for its 2017 concert slate, Streeter reflected for a moment.

"It's amazing to see how far we've come in the past three summers," he said. "More than that, it's humbling to see how the community has embraced what we've been doing."

"I love the way the local music scene has grown larger and more diverse. That benefit everyone."

Watching as crew members hang lights over the Battery Park stage, he said, "There's something special about going to a concert under the stars. I don't know what it is, but music and summertime just naturally go together."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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