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Cellphone company sponsors 'thank you' concert

MEDFORD — U.S. Cellular stores around the Rogue Valley generated excitement recently when fans of Grammy-award winning rapper Macklemore camped outside local stores for more than a day to score free concert tickets.

The wireless telecommunications company is hosting a free concert Friday, Oct. 4, at the Bi-Mart Amphitheater at the Expo in Central Point for 7,000 fans able to claim available seats.

Michael Behee, sponsorship manager for Chicago-based U.S. Cellular, said the company is hosting the concert to celebrate 30 years of doing business in Southern Oregon.

Macklemore, whose real name is Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, hails from Seattle, which Behee said made him the ideal choice for the region.

“We wanted to bring an award-winning artist who delivers a fantastic show and is connected with the community in terms of values and interest,” Behee said. “It’s our way of showing our appreciation for our loyal customers and giving them a chance to have a good time.”

Behee said 4,200 tickets were given away Sept. 14, through its retail locations in Medford, Ashland, Central Point and Grants Pass, while the remaining tickets would be distributed by various media outlets leading up to the concert.

The company hosted a free Kesha concert in November for customers in Cedar Rapids, Behee said.

Macklemore, known for his hits “Thrift Shop” and “Glorious,” a song in honor of his 100-year-old grandmother, has released one mixtape, three EPs, and four albums since 2000.

In addition to giving away free concert tickets, U.S. Cellular will host a sweepstakes for VIP tickets, which includes access to an artist meet-and-greet, a merchandise package and a $50 concessions voucher.

“When we have milestones come up in our markets, we try to find a way to thank our customers,” Behee said. “U.S. Cellular happens to have been serving the Medford area for 30 years, so we wanted to commemorate that.”

Rene Valadez, area sales manager for U.S. Cellular, said excitement for the free tickets was like “Christmas in September.”

“We had so many people in line to get tickets, and they were helping each other figure out where to still get tickets. We had people camped out at 6 p.m. the night before, people who drove from Nevada. It was exciting and a lot of fun to see.”

Behee said tickets were provided to customers and noncustomers, but a small perk will be extended to customers.

“Doors open at 6 p.m., but U.S. Cellular customers and one guest (with ticket) will be able to enter 30 minutes earlier than anybody else,” Behee added.

“That’s kind of a fair deal in our opinion, in terms of how we celebrate our customers. It’s going to be a great show.”

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

US Cellular is hosting a free Macklemore concert Friday, Oct. 4, at the Bi-Mart Amphitheater at the Expo in Central Point for 7,000 fans able to claim available seats.