The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

92° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Phil Vassar returns to UA to celebrate the start of a new football season

Phil Vassar performing on a piano designed by a local artist at the UA tailgate concert last year. (Courtesy of Phil Vassar.)

Phil Vassar will make his way back to the University of Arizona Mall on Saturday, Sept. 10, for his second tailgate concert as the Wildcats play their first home football game of the 2022 season.

“I’m just lucky I get to do this. It’s a great job,” Vassar said during a phone interview in late August from his home in Nashville. “We love the atmosphere of these games ‘cause it’s such a fun time.”

Vassar will return to the UA for the second year to play a free concert on the UA Mall. The concert is presented by Arizona Arts Live and Arizona Athletics.

“We had so much fun last year that we said let’s do this again,” Vassar said. “It’s going to be great.”

Vassar is a friend of Derek van der Merwe, chief operating officer of Arizona Athletics, and his wife Stephanie Paris. When he reached out asking if Vassar would be interested, he jumped on the opportunity. 

Vassar also will be performing a benefit concert again for the Lapan Sunshine Foundation at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at The Maverick, 6622 E. Tanque Verde Road. It will be his second benefit concert for the foundation.

The Lapan Sunshine Foundation, where Paris is director of strategy and development, helps provide college scholarship opportunities to underprivileged students in Tucson’s south side, according to the website. 

Last year, Vassar donated the instruments he used at the Maverick benefit to the foundation, and this year the foundation will loan the instruments back to him for his Tucson gigs.

Arizona Arts helped put together the staging, lighting and sound for the performance this year, said Executive Director Chad Herzog.

“After last year, Derek approached me about doing the same thing this year and Arts got involved,” Herzog said. “We’re getting the stage in place, sound, lighting and student performers for the arts department.”

Herzog said he anticipates more people will attend this year, and he’s really excited to show the Tucson community how Arizona Arts and Athletics collaborate to bring people together.

“We’re about making communities together. We owe a lot to our fans and patrons here,” Herzog said. “Our job is to bring people together, and when you go two and a half years without bringing people together, it’s really exciting to do that again.”

Vassar said he’s not partial to the UA or Mississippi State University, but last year he was cheering on the Wildcats from the sidelines.

“I pull for my friends’ teams, you know? We were on the sidelines and just had a blast,” he said. 

One of his favorite parts of attending is being in a college game-day atmosphere. Vassar said he never uses a set list and just plays what the crowd wants to hear. 


Country singer Phil Vassar is performing two shows in Tucson this week:

  • A benefit for the Lapan Sunshine foundation at 7 :30p.m. Thursday Sept. 8, at The Maverick, 6622 E. Tanque Verde Road. Tickets are $30 for individuals and $500 or $1,000 for four-person VIP tables through Proceeds from the concert will benefit the foundation’s scholarship program.
  • Arizona Arts Live and Arizona Athletics are presenting the University of Arizona tailgate concert at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, on the UA Mall. Admission is free to the concert and tickets for the home opener football game against Mississippi State at 8 p.m. start at $11 through

*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.  

Follow Jane Florance on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search