PENDLETON - The 2003 Pendleton Round-Up/Happy Canyon Concert will feature the award-winning group Rascal Flatts on Saturday. The opening act will be renowned singer-songwriter Phil Vassar.

The concert will be Sept. 6 in the Happy Canyon Arena. Ticket sales will begin on Thursday, March 20, at the Round-Up office and all Ticket Master outlets. Ticket prices are $100 for arena seats, $30 for box seats and $25 and $18 for reserved seating.

"Rascal Flatts and Phil Vassar have the musical talent and crowd-pleasing energy that will make this an unforgettable event," said concert committee co-chairman Doug Corey said. "Plus, having the concert in the Happy Canyon arena will mean that the audience will be able to get up close and personal to two musical acts that are taking country music by storm."

Co-chairman Tim Mabry said the Happy Canyon arena provided an excellent atmosphere for last year's concert. He said he expected the concert to sell out.

Rascal Flatts' first CD went platinum. It included four top-10 hits, including "Prayin' For Daylight" and "I'm Movin' On." The CD stayed on the charts for two years. Rascal Flatts joined the Dixie Chicks and SheDaisy as the only groups in the last five years whose debuts sold a million copies. After a healthy 33 weeks on the Billboard Magazine Country Singles chart, the Rascal's song "These Days" remains in the top 10.

The trio is comprised of Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney. Rascal Flatts was voted 2001 new vocal group of the year at the American Country Music Awards and played on the soundtracks of "The Emperor's New Groove" and "We Were Soldiers."

Its newest CD, "Melt," was released three months ago and remains among Billboard's top 10 country albums.

The trio also has written songs for other artists, including "Jezebel," recorded by Chely Wright, "Right Now," recorded by Chad Brock and "The Pretender," recorded by Joe Diffie.

Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus are second cousins who grew up as close friends in Columbus, Ohio. DeMarcus was the first to head for Nashville in 1992. Five years later he finally convinced LeVox to join him.

LeVox met Rooney when both were playing in Chely Wright's band.

Virginia native Phil Vassar made a name for himself as a successful songwriter long before he recorded his first album. Penning hits for Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"), Collin Raye ("Little Red Rodeo"), Tim McGraw ("For a Little While" and "My Next Thirty Years") and JoDee Messina ("I'm Alright" and "Bye Bye") Vassar was named ASCAP's songwriter of the year in 1999.

After attending James Madison University on a track scholarship, Vassar moved to Nashville in 1987, where he worked as a bartender to survive and began working on performing and song writing. In 1995 he bought the club and restaurant where he had been performing. A patron of the club asked for a demo of his work, and Vassar sent him a tape that included "Once in a While." The patron's father, Engelbert Humperdink, recorded that song Vassar's career was on the way.

In 2000, he released his self-titled debut with Arista Records, which yielded the number 1 hit "Just Another Day in Paradise," as well as four other Top 10 hits. He followed that debut with another acclaimed album, "American Child," which went gold.

He was named Billboard Magazine's best new country artist of the year for 2000 and American Country Music Awards top new male vocalist for 2002.

A newly expanded version of "American Child" has just been released, featuring two new cuts, "This is God" and "Workin' for a Living," a duet with rocker Huey Lewis.

For more information on tickets, call the Round-Up office at 276-2553 or 1-800-457-6336. The number for Ticket Master is (503) 224-4400.

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