It all started out pretty standard for a country concert. Cowboy hats…check, Bud…Check, camo…check, girls in tight jeans and boots…check. Well that all changed with the first strum of the lead guitar. Big and Rich took to the stage like rock stars and before I knew what was happening, I was bathed in the sweet sound of distorted dual guitars and I knew something was not right. At that moment, Gretchen walked out and wailed like very few singers can (save Ann Wilson). The energy just kept building from there and this rock and blues fan was sucked in.
The feeling of the show from the opening note was like I was sitting in on a private Texas BBQ and these great musicians were playing for their friends. They played songs from all kinds of artists ranging from Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna.
There was a moment of honest patriotism when they honored the troops and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Leroy Petry. This moment, as touching as it was, had a chance of becoming a real wet blanket but it didn’t. Gretchen Wilson played bartender and started serving shots of Jack Daniels to Mr. Petry and the members of the band. In a tribute lifted perfectly from a backyard BBQ, everyone downed their shots in honor of troops in harm’s way. The band then played a rockin’ version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
After the Jack Daniels-inspired tribute, the concert resumed its path more familiar to this rock fan. Well, not so fast…the crowd erupted when a cowboy hat-wearing, 6’8″ black fellow grabbed the mic and began rapping to “I Played Chicken With The Train.” There were so many different layers to this concert that I was eagerly anticipating more . . . . and they delivered. After the rap that was familiar to everyone except me, they started goofing around and did a “Baby Got Back” number by Sir Mix-a-Lot and “Rappers Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang.
I started by saying that this show could be summed up in one word . . . Party . . . and that’s exactly what it was . . . A backyard BBQ with 3,000 or 4,000 friends and neighbors.
Photographer: John Rudolph