CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With 2012 underway, Charleston's calendar of entertainment events is just beginning to fill up.
Returning to the Civic Center are such popular acts as Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Casting Crowns and the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
John Robertson, the center's general manager, said things are as busy as they ever are and are picking up. "It's like someone turned on a spigot and it's gushing," he said and laughed.
This week, there's the Christian music tour Winter Jam at the Civic Center and comedian Rodney Carrington at the Municipal Auditorium. Next week, country superstars Rascal Flatts are at the Civic Center, and Blake Shelton comes next month. Plus the Civic Center has a full slate of events like the West Virginia International Auto Show, the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, the Monster Jam monster truck show and more.
Robertson said the Civic Center staff gets events every which way it can. Promoters call them, but they also reach out to tour managers.
"We have a regular and proactive phone call system to agents to kind of remind them that we're here," he said. "We ask them if they have anything on tour, and if Charleston, West Virginia could fit into that."
Typically, he said, Charleston isn't going to be a stop that an entire tour would revolve around, but it might be a secondary market or a building block to a major market.
The Civic Center gets a lot of country acts, Robertson acknowledged, and it will be getting even more.
He said, "Right now, if you follow the trades, there's a glut of country. There's very little rock out there. I'd say for the foreseeable future that's what you're going to see."
He said the Civic Center would like to see more variety, but with the number of tour dates available, country concerts are the most likely what will come to Charleston in the next six to eight months.
However, the way artists tour could be changing. Robertson believes it's possible that Charleston and the Civic Center could see more shows as performers take on more tour dates in venues outside of major cities.
Meanwhile, the Clay Center's spring schedule includes class rockers The Moody Blues, banjoist Bela Fleck and his Flecktones and "Jessie's Girl" singer Rick Springfield. Lakin Cook, the center's Director of Performing Arts, said there is more to come.
"We're probably looking at two or three add-on shows to our schedule before June," she said.
And summer could also be busy.
Cook said bringing variety to the Clay Center is a balancing act between the venue's cultural and educational mission and the popular tastes of ticket buyers. Classic rock, comedians and Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. do very well at the Clay Center, but other types of entertainment sometimes struggle.