The Stage – The Old Gray

Some say live music is dying.  Obviously not if you’re Taylor Swift.  But we can’t all break the internet.  So with that exception, is live music dying?  The way we consume music has expanded beyond stages and car radios.  These days, music is inside our heads if we position our earbuds just right.  But if we stay in our own head for too long, we might go crazy.  Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with the world these days.  We retreat to our screens and our earbuds in the perceived safety of our own homes all in an attempt to be social without actually being social.  It just doesn’t work.  

But human nature is cyclical and the best things never die.  Try as we might to have our cake and eat it too, we will continue to crawl out of our heads and homes desperate to experience life together.  

Chris Landers knows this and bet on it by creating a truly unique outdoor live music venue, The Old Gray.

Born in Cookeville, and raised in Monterey, Chris has a heart for the area. As the owner of multiple businesses, including a pallet factory, motorsports team, oil company, and the massive Landers Trade – a home solutions and hardware store Chris bought and reimagined three years ago – Chris gives back to his community through jobs, revenue, and now entertainment.

Landers Trade (and all his businesses) runs on personalized service and a great team. And, whether it’s at his store or on the track, Chris knows a thing or two about the value of working together.

“Our success goes further than one race, one division, or one person. A great team always wins,” he said.

And win he does. While at the helm of his Magna1 Motorsports team, Chris and his team have secured four national championships and two overall championships. Now, he’s set sights on winning for his community through live music.

So, how do a pallet company, a nationally acclaimed motorsports team, and a hardware store lead to a music venue? Chris is a visionary and where most of us see stars, he sees constellations. “One thing to know about me,” Chris said, “is that everything I do is connected. All of it.” And for Chris, it’s really all about the challenge. He gets the vision, figures out the “thing” that makes it work, builds the team, and then scales.

A few years before purchasing the hardware store, Chris got one such vision when walking on his farm just outside downtown Monterey. “The thought was, we want to have a show here. One day we want to have Jon Pardi in that field. It was just a small thought, a blink and it was gone.” he said. Three years later, Caleb Langford and Rafferty Cleary walked into the newly renovated hardware store with an idea for a show. Caleb was working for Lander’s Trade and was part of the musical duo we all know and love, Caleb and Leann. Rafferty was the cultural administrator for the town of Monterey at the time. Chris said, “I don’t know how it ever would have worked out without him working there, walking in excited, him and Rafferty and a few others in town.” The plan was to shut down main street and put on a full-scale live music production with a big name. Caleb suggested Craig Morgan. And the stars aligned for Chris.  For any Craig Morgan fans out there, you might remember (beyond music) that he is a big name in the Motorsports world. Chris knew him indirectly through racing and made the call.

Months later, through hard work, a great team, and a lot of fun, tiny little Monterey TN, known mostly for giving Putnam County residents snow days, brought in one of the biggest names in country music – Craig Morgan. The show went so well that after performing, Craig asked to speak with Chris. He said, “Chris, whatever y’all have done, we’re really impressed. We expected to come to this small town, play the show, and leave. But there were 2,500 people out there!” For a town with a population of just under 3,000, that’s pretty amazing.

He used this motivation and got straight to work building his next team for his next venture – The Old Gray music venue.  Chris brought on Jason Grider and Jake White, both experienced in the music business through radio.  Most of us know Jason from his long running radio show, “Jason and Tony” and his new program with Sheila Scruggs, “Good Morning Cookeville.” When not on the air, Jason and Jake spend their time managing Gray Marketing Group – the promotional giant behind all of Chris’s initiatives. 

Sitting on 180 acres of prime farmland, The Old Gray is an outdoor experience you don’t want to miss. The farm forms a natural amphitheater; sound bounces off the surrounding hills and the woods behind the stage, pushing the music to the crowd from all directions.

Jason said, “It’s like God made it for this purpose exactly!”

In addition to being an amphitheater, the property will soon feature 350 campsites and already has the capacity to hold and park 25,000 people. Access in and out is quick and convenient.

With names like Craig Morgan, Chris Jansen, We the Kingdom, and Shane Profitt already on the bill, it’s no wonder The Old Gray has attracted well over 5,000 visitors from 15 states in its first year alone.  You see and hear about it practically everywhere you turn, keeping us curious about who is coming to The Old Gray stage next. 

Chris and his amazing team are transforming the area’s music scene in a big way and to us, nothing could sound sweeter.

Be the first to find out who is coming to the stage at The Old Gray at 

by Jill Stalnaker, Chris Landers photo by Emily Armstrong, concert photos by Keith Norrod


  1. Donna

    Aunt Betty needs to play here

  2. Sheila Lane

    Chris is a good hard working man, and I Loved getting to visit the Old Grey Venue, HunterGirl and Noah Thompson, along with Caleb and Leann, Kouzins, Lily Grace, Was such a Great Experience for me and my family, I will return to another real soon. Easy in and out, just a great experience all around…..THANKS CHRIS.

  3. Karen Edmonds Shirley

    Karen Shirley says I’m proud of you Chris. The old gray makes me proud to say ” Monterey Tennessee all the way” Blessings


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