“I was impressed by the amount of help we received when we came to town last year,” Shilling said. “There were students everywhere helping us. The actual crowd in the theater was bigger than I expected it to be, and the response was just incredible. We really appreciate the area supporting us like it always has."
However, this year’s concert will not be the same song and dance. Asheville, N.C.’s Johnson’s Crossroad will open the concert, and Mountain Heart will play music no fan has heard before.
“The way that we try out new material is by putting brand new songs out for the crowd,” Shilling said. “If they respond to it, we get to work on it in the studio.”
Student tickets cost $18 with a valid ID card and non-student tickets cost $22.
“All of that money goes to supporting our conservation work,” Eustis said. “We have at least 10 local businesses that sponsor us. Those businesses are saying that they believe conservation work is important, and their sponsorship covers all expenses of hiring the band and renting the venue. Ticket sales and refreshment sales go directly toward donations to the trust program.”
NRLT reaches out to educate private landowners and government officials in eight counties in southwestern Virginia. Eustis and other staff meet with citizens to tell them about conserving the land.
“We don’t just work with farmers — we work with people who have land covered in forest or scenic value,” Eustis said. “We teach them about the value in protecting that land for wildlife, groundwater recharge, sedimentation and other things.”
Since 2002, NRLT has conserved more than 40,000 acres of land and 21 miles of New River frontage. The organization works to protect the New River and other historic places in Virginia.
“Those landowners don’t want to see that land become a hundred-house subdivision or a strip mine or a golf course or a Walmart,” Eustis said. “They love their land and in many cases, it’s land that has been in the family for several generations.”
Land Jam 2012 will take place from 7-10 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are on sale on NRLT’s website, at the Lyric, on the Lyric’s website and at the Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg.