Country 92.5’s 2013 Concert for St. Jude’s Kids

Country 92.5 Presents the 2013 Concert for Kids
Dustin Lynch, Jerrod Niemann, Jana Kramer,
Randy Houser & Courtney Drummey
Cadillac Ranch, Stonington, CT
February 25, 2013

Each year, Connecticut’s Country Music radio station puts together an acoustic show at the Cadillac Ranch, in Southington, CT.  The show is a benefit for St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, TN, a charity country music singers have always greatly supported.  This year’s show included Jerrod Niemann, Jana Kramer, Dustin Lynch, and Randy Houser.

Before the show, the ticket holders lined up in the cold to get entry to the Cadillac Ranch.  Jerrod Niemann appeared and walked up and down the line greeting fans, taking photos, and making jokes.  I caught up with him and cracked some jokes about the time we spent on the Blake Shelton Cruise this past October (see:  He joked with me, saying: “those were better, warmer times.  Also blurrier times”.  I thought this accessibility to the fans was a classy move by Jerrod and it made the time spent by the fans on line a lot easier. 

The show consists of a guitar pull, as each of the artists stay on stage the whole time, joining in on each other’s songs.  Jerrod carried the show’s banter, as he added numerous jokes and comments about each of the artists.  He even added a baseball themed song about an old man getting hit by a ball that had everyone cracking up. 

Jana Kramer tried to add into the banter and discussed a bit of her new engagement with Brantley Gilbert.  She got a huge round of applause when she sang her new single “Whiskey” and “Why You Wanna” became an instant sing-a-long with the crowd.  The actress (One Tree Hill, Entourage) turned singer’s live voice has improved each time I have seen her perform.

Jerrod sang his top four hits, including a slower version of his new single, “One God Can Love You More”  The slower, acoustic version added to the beautiful lyrics of the song, which he co-wrote with Lee Brice.  All throughout the show, Jerrod was making jokes, but there is no comedy when it comes to his music as he is a true hit-maker.  When he belted out “Lover, Lover” during the last pull, the crowd may not have been louder all night.

Dustin Lynch had the girls in the crowd straight giddy as I overheard numerous comments about his looks.  But his voice is most impressive about him.  Backed by a ridiculously impressive guitarist from his band, Dustin took us through four of the cuts from his debut album.  But “Cowboys & Angels”, his first #1 single, was the absolute highlight of the whole night.  One of, if not the best country song of the year had all the significant others  in the crowd holding on to each other tight.  I expect great things from him in his career.

Randy Houser has one of the best vocals in music today.  And in the intimate Caddy Ranch, those booming vocals were straight bombastic.  He soared on “Like a Cowboy”, had the place rocking during “Boots On”, and his new single, “Running Out of Moonlight” had people ready to immediately request it on Country 92.5.  The final song of the night was very fitting as his first #1, “How Country Feels” was belted out by Randy as well as every last person in the crowd.

Each of the artists was on point and were quick to acknowledge both Country 92.5 and St. Jude’s Hospital.  I am proud to have donated to St. Jude’s as well as attend this event the past five years.  There was a poster signing at the end of the night, where those who bought the posters could meet the artists and get their signatures.  An overall classy evening where it’s always great to see musicians get together for a worthy cause. 


  1. Good Time Coming On – Jana  Kramer
  2. Baseball Song – Jerrod Niemann
  3. One More Drinkin’ Song – Jerrod Niemann
  4. Dancing in the Headlights – Dustin Lynch
  5. Boots On – Randy Houser
  6. Whiskey – Jana Kramer
  7. What Do You Want From Me -Jerrod Niemann
  8. Cranks My Tractor – Dustin Lynch
  9. Like a Cowboy – Randy Houser
  10. Hope It Rains – Jana Kramer
  11. Only God Can Love You More – Jerrod Niemann
  12. Name On It – Dustin Lynch
  13. Running Out  of Moonlight –  Randy Houser
  14. Why  You Wanna – Jana Kramer
  15. Lover, Lover – Jerrod Niemann
  16. Cowboys & Angels – Dustin Lynch
  17. How Country Feels – Randy Houser


Only God Can Love You More
Cowboys and Angels
How Country Feels

King George Rides Away In Hartford

George Strait
The Cowboy Rides Away Tour
w/ Martina McBride
February 23, 2013
XL Center, Hartford, CT

When George Strait left the stage on Saturday night in Hartford, Connecticut, I felt a feeling that I’ve never experienced post-concert before.  It was a sadness that came with an immediate realization that it would most likely be the final time I’d ever hear his voice live again.  The feeling for the two hours before that was of great admiration for a true musical living legend.  The thirty three song set that King George performed was done so with passion, grace, and without the frills that most performers need to accompany their live performances.

Martina McBride opened the show with an hour long performance of her own.  I had never seen her live before and her voice was very impressive.  The squared shape “in the round” styled stage, which placed a microphone at all four sides, seemed to take away from Martina’s performance as she did not capture the audience’s attention as much as when George was out there.  Nonetheless, her vocals were beautiful as she went through her catalogue of hits.  She also appeared on stage during George’s set for a Johnny Cash & June Carter song, “Jackson”‘, as well as “Golden Ring”‘, a George Jones & Tammy Wynette cover.

Before George took to the stage, video clips of award shows and past memories played on  the various screens around the XL Center.  Also, clips of other artists played with messages for King George, including Tim McGraw, Reba, Ronnie Dunn, Kenny Chesney, and Blake Shelton.  The lights went low, and George walked on stage with his signature black hat and black guitar.  He belted out “Here For a Good Time” and the two hour sing-a-long began. 

Mid-way through the show, George strategically placed songs in a chronological order of his time as an artist as he sang older songs such as “80 Proof Bottle off Tear-Stopper” and “Honky-Tonk Crazy”.  He broke up the normal chain of events when he sang “Happy Birthday” to his wife and gave a wounded warrior  and his wife a new house plus groceries for a year.  The crowd was in the palm of his hands with every move and each song.

There were no flashy screens, extravagant light shows, or pyrotechnics needed.  Just a man with a guitar and a microphone, making his way around the stage so each side of the arena could get a glimpse of him as he sang his stories.  It is what makes George Strait so unique in comparison to most artists, you don’t need the “show” of a concert; instead, you just want to hear and see the man who has fifty-nine #1 hits do what God intended him to do. 

The crowd cheered just by the opening notes of a few songs, such as “Amarillo By Morning”, “Ocean Front Property”, “Stars on the Water” and “Give It Away”.  Other tunes, such as “I’ll Always Remember You”, “Troubadour” and the final number, “The Cowboy Rides Away” brought the emotional feelings on as you could see those song’s words meant as much to the man himself as it did for the crowd.

All in all, it was a concert event that I will never forget.  I really hope this was not the last time I ever see George Strait live, but with the announcement of his retirement from touring it seems inevitable.  But if it was, it was a display of perfection by the King of Country Music, complete with true class all the way… but would anyone expect anything else as the Cowboy Rides Away. 


  1. Here For a Good Time
  2. Ocean Front Property
  3. Check Yes or No
  4. I Saw God Today
  5. Drinkin’ Man
  6. A Showman’s Life
  7. Love’s Gonna Make It Alright
  8. Arkansas Dave
  9. Jackson (Johnny Cash & June Cover, sung with Martina McBride)
  10. Golden Ring (George Jones & Tammy Wynette Cover, sung with Martina McBride)
  11. Happy Birthday (sung for his wife)
  12. Blame It On Mexico
  13. Her Goodbye Hit Me In the Heart
  14. 80 Proof Bottle of Tear-Stopper
  15. Honky-Tonk Crazy
  16. Marina Del Rey
  17. A Fire I Can’t Put Out
  18. The King of Broken Hearts
  19. Where the Sidewalk Ends
  20. The Chair
  21. River of Love
  22. How Bout Them Cowgirls
  23. Stars on the Water
  24. Give It Away
  25. Amarillo By Morning
  26. Give It All We Got Tonight
  27. I’ll Always Remember You
  28. Troubadour
  29. Unwound
  30. Same Kind of Crazy (ENCORE)
  31. All My  Ex’s Live In Texas (ENCORE)
  32. Folosm Prison Blues (Johnny Cash Cover) (ENCORE)
  33. The Cowboy Rides Away (ENCORE)


“I’ll Always Remember You”

    The Full Zac Brown Band Experience at Mohegan Sun

    Zac Brown Band
    September 1, 2012
    Mohegan Sun Arena
    Uncasville, Connecticut

    On Saturday, September 1, 2012, I had the privilege of having the full Zac Brown Band experience: access to the Eat & Greet, a Pit Pass, and an up close and personal look into the most talented group of musicians country music has to offer.  It started off with an orange wristband and a brief wait in the lobby the Mohegan Sun Arena.  I’ve had several meet and greets with other artists in numerous different rooms within the Arena, but this Eat & Greet experience was deep into the halls of the Arena.  We walked into a large room where several of the Band’s trucks were and saw several tables set in the form of an inside picnic. 

    Each of the Band members was at the entrance ready to greet each of the lucky fans with wristband.  After shaking hands with each of them, I spotted Chef Rusty Hamlin, the Band’s head road Chef.  I had tweeted him earlier in the day and he was happy (and extremely excited) to show me each of the dishes he had prepared for us.  He explained he got all of the ingredients at a local farm, Holmberg Orchards.  He then told us to head to the bar because there was an open bar with Jack Daniels and Landshark. 

    Zac Brown then gave a short speech and handed the microphone to Chef Rusty who spoke about the various food options, which included ratatouille, sweet potatoes with pecans, coleslaw, beef, pork, cornbread fritters, and more.  It was truly incredible food with an insane amount of flavors and freshness.  On top of that, each of the members moved about the tables and spent time speaking with the fans.  The access to the band, the open bar, and the amazing food made the Eat & Greet a truly remarkable experience.

    I spoke to Zac about the type of guitar strings he likes to play with.  I had noticed he uses nylon strings and wanted to know why.  He spent a good deal of time really explaining it to me.  He said he grew up playing classical music and learned on those strings.  And for the style he plays, with such intensity, it is easier on his finger tips.  I also asked Clay Cook if he was going to be singing any songs that night and he said that the Band does not make up the setlist until right before they go on stage because they “want to play songs they feel like playing on that particular night”.  That explains why their setlists are completely different each night (much unlike most of the country music world who basically play the same songs each night).

    I then made my way down to the Pit area as the opening act, Levi Lowery, was finishing his set.  A giant white sheet/screen covered the stage as a countdown was on to the main event.  The sheet flew up and the band wasted no time as the opening guitar intro to the title cut of their new album “Uncaged” was up first.  The stage was an enormous set, with moving cranes and lights, three huge projection screens, and the band members stationed as a cohesive unit.  When the second song played was “Toes”, we knew that the setlist that night was going to be amazing. 

    Throughout the set, it was very apparent that each member of the Band is a vital and unique part.  Of course, Zac is the leader.  But, each member is unbelievably talented in their own right.  Songs like “The Wind” and “Who Knows”, which the latter of which became a fourteen minute jam out, really showcase the diversity and skill.  Each member gets their own time in the spotlight playing their respective instruments. 

    I was on the left side of center, right alongside the fiddler, Jimmy De Martini, who I have often referred to as the most talented musician in country music.  If anyone wants to argue with me, bring it.  He absolutely blew my mind as well as everyone standing around me.  When he would rip into a fiddle solo, whether it was on “Devil Went Down To Georgia”, “Free” or “Sic Em On A Chicken”, mouths dropped.  He is worth the price of admission in of itself. 

    The Band did a three song acoustic set, where they sat down on crates and boxes in the front of catwalk and were joined by Levi Lowrey.  I was not a huge fan of this portion as I’d rather see the Band going all out in their natural element.  But there was also something very genuine about the set.  They gave a bit of insight into what it must be like when they are creating their songs.  Still, the excitement level of the crowd seemed to die down.  But when the opening fiddle notes of “Free” started when the Band returned to the stage, there was no downtime for the rest of the night. 

    The Encore began with a ten minute jam out between the Fryar and De Los Reyes.  The bongos and drums were smashed with such intensity that I could feel the vibrations from the floor up into my body.  And with true class and patriotism, the Band finished the night off with “America, The Beatiful” as a pre-lude to their signature song, “Chicken Fried”.  While most of the night was a sing-a-long, the crowd was never louder during the final megahit. 

    Zac thanked the crowd and each of the members took a bow.  They exited the stage and never have I ever been so full of satisfaction from a concert experience.  Between the backstage experience and the exhilirating performance, I saw a state of class, intimacy, talent, and perfection, that not many other music acts can match, nor care to put forth.  Zac’s attention to details and his care for his fans help Zac Brown Band stand apart at the forefront of musical entertainment. 


    1. Uncaged
    2. Toes
    3. Not Okay
    4. As She’s Walking Away
    5. No Hurry
    6. The Wind
    7. Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band Cover)
    8. Colder Weather
    9. Jump Right In
    10. Keep Me In Mind
    11. Wherever We Break Down (Acoustic Song with Levi Lowrey)
    12. One Day (Acoustic Song)
    13. Sweet Emotion (Acoustic Song – Aerosmith Cover)
    14. Free
    15. Into the Mystic (Van Morrison Cover)
    16. Who Knows
    17. Knee Deep
    18. Sic Em On A Chicken
    19. Sweet Annie
    20. Devil Went Down To Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band Cover)
    21. Drum Solo’s by Chris Fryar & Daniel De Los Reyes (ENCORE)
    22. Whiskey’s Gone (ENCORE)
    23. America The Beautiful (ENCORE)
    24. Chicken Fried (ENCORE)


    Jump Right In
    Devil Went Down To Georgia

    Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Dee Jay Silver Dominate Hartford (plus an interview with Dee Jay Silver)

    Jason Aldean
    My Kinda Party Tour
    w/ Luke Bryan and Dee Jay Silver
    Comcast Theater, Hartford, CT
    July 13, 2012

    On a hot and steamy Friday night, Connecticut Country Music fans came out in droves to party with a few of the hottest names in music.  Jason Aldean brought his highly successful My Kinda Party to the Comcast Theater in Hartford, CT and what ensued was what Dee Jay Silver described as a “hillbilly rave”. 

    Up first was my meet and greet with Luke Bryan.  I have met Luke a bunch of times over the past few years and despite all of the success he has attained, he is still humble and personable as ever.  We spoke about his next single, which he told me is “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, the National Anthem controversy, and how next year he is going to being headlining his own major tour.  We also discussed how long of a day it had already been for him since he had performed in Central Park in New York City that very morning for Good Morning America. 

    I arrived to my seat just in time for Dee Jay Silver’s first set.  Silver is a country music DJ who combines all genres of music to country music for amazing mixes and mashups.  This was the first of his two sets and he had the packed amplitheater up and dancing throughout.  With amazing mixes using songs such as  “Dust On The Bottle”, “Smoke a Little Smoke”, “Party Rock Anthem”, and “Shake That Ass” he has truly created a unique style of music.  I was fortunate enough to interview him on his tour bus after the show and you can see that interview within the bottom of this blog post. 

    Silver had the crowd amped up and ready for Luke Bryan’s set.  Luke came out storming with his smash hit “Rain Is a Good Thing” and never looked back.  Luke is certain to be a future Entertainer of the Year.  He uses every inch of the stage while he dances, jumpes, and shakes around with the swagger of a veteran performer.  His dance moves have the women screaming and his music is masculine enough to have every male in the venue singing along as well. 

    Luke performed all of his hits within his set, including “Drunk On You”, “I Don’t Want This Night To End”, “Someone Else Calling You Baby” and “Do I”.  He even threw in two covers (Lionel Richie’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning” and Journey’s “Faithfully”) that the crowd knew word for word.  However, the Comcast Theater went insane when they heard the auto tuned intro to “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”.  The stage was then rushed by a contingent of women who were ready to show Luke just how well Connecticut girls could shake it.  He put everything into his last song and his energy was unparalled.  Luke just keeps getting better and better with each performance. 

     Dee Jay Silver had the hardest job of the night by filling up the time slot following Luke Bryan’s amazing performance and before Jason Aldean took the stage.  But, as the true professional and visionary that he is, he handled it perfectly.  He gave the crowd exactly what they wanted: party music.  At a time where most would head to the bathrooms, he had the sold out crowd dancing and fist pumping Jersey Shore style throughout his time. 

    With the two Dee Jay Silver sets and Luke Bryan’s bombastic performance, the crowd was on a music high by the time Jason Aldean took the stage.  The stage became a spectacular array of stars, lights, hanging HD screens, ramps, and smoke as Aldean pumped out “Johnny Cash”.  While he is not as much of an energetic performer as Luke Bryan is, he has his own style that works.  You hardly ever see him without his black acoustic guitar and he keeps a straight face as he gets down to business.  But his live vocals are what shines the brightest in his performances.  As he belts out the words in “Fly Over States”, “The Truth”, or “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, you can see that he why he garnered so much success over the past few years.  He is truly one of the best live vocalists in music today. 

    Of course, he performed crowd favorite country-rock songs such as “My Kinda Party” and “She’s Country” and the country-hip-hop mega-hit “Dirt Road Anthem”.  But he also gave the Connecticut crowd a few sneak peaks at a few tunes off of his next album, which he said he expects to be released in October.  “Take a Litte Ride” is another high energy, country-rock banger that is undoubtedly headed for country radio supremacy.  It has the sound you expect from Jason that borders on commercial appeal while keeping true to his style of music.  During his two song encore, he also sang “Wheels Rolling” which is another vintage Jason Aldean type song.  I am starting to see a theme in his lyrics as many of the songs are about him traveling somewhere. 

    In the end,  it is easy to see why this is one of the must see tours of the Summer.  Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan put on completely different styles of performances that both show the range that country music is at in today’s music world.  The addition of Dee Jay Silver’s two DJ sets made that Friday night in Hartford everyone’s Kinda Party. 


    Luke Bryan

    1. Rain Is a Good Thing
    2. Someone Else Calling You Baby
    3. Drunk On You
    4. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
    5. Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets
    6. Easy Like Sunday Morning (Lionel Richie Cover)
    7. Do I
    8. Faithfully (Journey Cover)
    9. All My Friends
    10. Enter the Sandman (Metallica Cover)
    11. I Don’t Want This Night to End
    12. Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
    Jason Aldean
    1. Johnny Cash
    2. Big Green Tractor
    3. Amarillo Sky
    4. The Truth
    5. Take a Ride in the City
    6. Fly Over States
    7. Tattoos On This Town
    8. Don’t You Wanna Stay
    9. Dirt Road Anthem
    10. My Kinda Party
    11. She’s Country
    12. Wheels Rolling
    13. Hicktown


    Dee Jay Silver Interview – July13, 2012

    Question:  It seems like everyone was a DJ or wanted to be a DJ at some point in their life, how did you take it to the next level and get to this point?

     Answer: I’ve been doing this for awhile now.  I toured with the rapper, Nelly, doing his afterparties  and was on the Jackass World Tour with the MTV guys.  Then I did a Remix of “She’s Country” with Country Grammar and my agent, Kevin Neal, who is also Jason Aldean’s agent, heard it at the Country Music Awards three years ago.  Kevin then walked up to me at the Tabu Nightclub in Las Vegas and simply asked me “do you want to go on Tour with Jason Aldean?” 

    Question:  Wow, so it was one song and the right person listening that gave you your shot?

    Answer: God put it in the right hands.  Now we are going on two years.  In fact, Brooks & Dunn on their last Tour, used my remix of “She’s Country” as one the songs right before they walked on stage.  I was blown away by that honor. 

    Question:  I know you have a lot of free material on the Iphone App, Soundcloud.  How long have you been doing that?

    Answer: Over the past few years I have been putting up lots of mixes for free on the App.  But my record deal came through and you will be seeing my music on Itunes. 

     Question:  What kind of record deal?

     Answer:  I am proud to say I am the first ever DJ to be offered a country record deal.

    Question:  So what should be expecting from you next?

     Answer: Working with some of the biggest names in country music, past and present. 

    Question:  Have you become close with Jason and Luke?

    Answer: Absolutely, they are two of my great friends now.  I was just speaking to Luke before I spoke to you and we were talking about how far he has come.  He just got to play Good Morning America in Central Park and I told him that was a bucket list type of thing.  We both cannot believe we get paid to do what we are doing and love. 

    Question:  I am a big fan of all genres of music.  I think it is phenomenal that you can combine each of the genres into the country world on your mixes.  I hear everything from country to Jay-Z to LMFAO on your mixes.  Where did you come up with the idea that hip-hop and country could actually mix?

    Answer:  I think it is such a cross roads right now and music is a kick drum from being rock and roll.  Look at Jason’s music, there is not much difference between the high energy music he performs and rock and roll.   On this Tour, we are basically throwing the largest country club party every night. 

    Question:  If you are in a honky-tonk or a country bar and you hear a country song mixed with a hip-hop, rock and roll, or pop song, what are the chances it is a Dee Jay Silver mix.

    Answer:  If you heard a country mix,  chances are I might have had something to do with it.  I change the keys, switch the pitch, and reverse the chorus.  My mixes of “Dust on the Bottle”, “Rodeo”, “Crazy Town”, among others, are getting a lot of play. 

    Question: I know I heard you did a mix of Lee Brice’s “Parking Lot Party”.  What else are you working on?

    Answer: I just met with Lee’s people last week and we are going to be working on some stuff together.  Actually, ESPN College Game Day heard that “Parking Lot Party” mix and we filmed a whole section for this Fall’s ESPN College Game Day with the mix. 

    Question:  When did you put out your first country mix?

    Answer: Over five years ago.  It was the first country mix ever made. It’s funny, now, I have clubs all over the nation asking me to come and play an hour of country music mixes.  I couldn’t believe it because it was at a time where people either hated country music or loved it.  Times have changed and it is one of the most popular types of music out there now.  My first country club mix went through about 10,000 copies. 

    Question:  Are there any other artists out there you admire or want to work with?

    Answer:  The Zac Brown Band right now is killing it.  Musically, there are not many that can compete with them and they are blowing up.  I would love to do something with them.  And Eric Church is my boy.   There are not many solo acts right now that get more energy when I play a mix of his, Luke’s, and Jason.  You saw it tonight – it was the biggest country club in the world tonight. What an honor it is to be on the road with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.
    Special thanks to Dee Jay Silver for allowing me to do the interview with him.  Good luck in your already impressive career. 

    Willie Nelson Shows Perfection at the Shubert Theater

    Willie Nelson
    Shubert Theater, New Haven, CT
    June 18, 2012

    It always amazes me when I see Willie Nelson perform live.  Each year, the living legend gets older and I half expect him to sound a bit less like himself or to perform a shorter set.  Yet, each year he surpasses my expectations and sounds exactly like the man I have grown up listening to.  On Tuesday night, at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT, it was no exception.  Not only did Willie sound perfect, but he belted out a thirty song set chalk full of hits new and old. 

    He started the show in all black from his cowboy hat to his t-shirt and pants – and in typical fashion, sang “Whiskey River”.  A few notes into the song a giant Texas flag draped the entire backdrop of the stage.  He showed his skillful guitar picking on “Still Is Still Moving To Me” and performed a folksy rendition of his #1 duet with Toby Keith, “Beer For My Horses”.  Willie did not speak too much between songs, but was full of thanks and smiles. 

    Most pleasing and surprising was that Willie sang several newer and humorous tracks such as “Superman”, a duet he recorded with rapper Snoop Doggy Dog as well as “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”, a song he recorded again with Snoop as well as Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristoferson on his newest album, “Heroes”. He had the crowd cracking up to “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” and cheering to a song he had written with Waylon Jennings called “Write Your Own Song”.  That track was written as an insult to the record executives who tried to push around artists in Nashville.  Willie does not get pushed around by anyone nowadays and that song really made you think about how Waylon and Willie rebelled against the system back in the day. 

    Of course, Willie did not leave out some of his biggest and most legendary hits, such as “Always On My Mind”, “On The Road Again” and “Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground”.  He even performed a beautiful guitar solo that reminded me of a Spanish Guitar Melody as an intro to his old classic, “I Never Cared For You”. But no matter what Willie Nelson sang into the microphone at the intimate Shubert Theater, it was a real reminder that Willie is still at the top of his game and has no signs of slowing down. 


    1. Whiskey River
    2. Still Is Still Moving to Me
    3. Beer For My Horses
    4. Time Slips Away
    5. Crazy
    6. Nightlife is No Good Life
    7. Listen to the Blues That Are Playing
    8. Down Yonder (piano solo by Bobby Nelson)
    9. Me and Paul
    10. Help me Make it Through the Night
    11. Good Hearted Woman (Waylon Jennings Cover)
    12. On the Bayou (Hank Williams Cover)
    13. Hey Good Looking (Hank Williams Cover)
    14. Move It On Over
    15. Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
    16. Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground
    17. On the Road Again
    18. Anything You Ask Me To
    19. Georgia on a Fast Train
    20. Georgia On My Mind
    21. Window Faces the South
    22. Cold War
    23. Superman
    24. You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore
    25. Write Your Own Song
    26. Solo – Spanish guitar
    27. I Never Cared For You
    28. Fly away
    29. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
    30. I Saw The Light


    Beer For My Horses
    Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die


    On The Road Again

    Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

    Guitar Solo
    Always On My Mind

    Rascal Flatts and Some All American Bands Invade Connecticut

    Rascal Flatts
    Changed Tour
    Featuring Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, & Eden’s Edge
    June 15, 2012 – Hartford, CT

    The Rascal Flatts brought their “all band show” to Hartford, Connecticut as they kicked off their summer leg of the 2012 “Changed Tour”.  This tour is highlighted as one of the first country music concerts which exclusively had bands as the acts.  Accompanying the mega star Rascal Flatts were veterans Little Big Town, and up and comers Eli Young Band and Eden’s Edge.  Each of the bands have a unique sound, however, it was clear that no one would outshine the headliners. 

    Eden’s Edge kick started the show with a short set.  The trio consists of two females and one male.  Their biggest song to date, “Amen”, seemed to resonate with the crowd as it became a nice sing-a-long for the band.  Eli Young Band was up next with a spirited set highlighted by the songs “Crazy Girl” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”.  The band is less commercial than a lot of today’s country despite their recent radio success.  Their sound borders on country, Americana, and rock creating a very unique and likeable sound.  Little Big Town was the third opener and their forty five minute set was full of harmony and class. 

    The summer anthem “Pontoon”, LBT’s newest single had the entire amphitheater dancing.  The band even covered a hillbilly rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.  This group, which has been around country music is 1998, has a great blend of harmonies between the two males and two females.  However, there were only a few sing-a-long songs for the sold out crowd.  Their music is solid, but they are still looking for that huge #1 hit.  “Pontoon” has the potential to take them to the top.  They finished their set with, arguably, their biggest song to date, “Boondocks”. 

    The Rascal Flatts took the stage and it was clear they were upping the ante for the summer.  High production screens with a light show that included illuminated cubes that were constantly moving in the background made the visuals of the show extremely glamorous.  The Band, who are led by Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney, have put together one of the most successful country careers in history.  On that night in Hartford, they brought out all of their hits, new and old, and had the place jumping. 

    The Flatts started out of the gate with full energy as they opened with their recent #1 and country anthem, “Banjo”.  They followed it up with possibly their most raucous song, “Bob That Head”.  At that point the trio was off and running as they pumped out hit after hit.  

    The cubes in the background, as you can see in the photos, really added to the production of the show.  The cubes were constantly moving and changing colors throughout.  Gary LeVox moved around the stage pretty much non-stop and belted out notes that only he can hit.  Especially on songs such as “What Hurts The Most” and “Untouchable”, the notes LeVox was able to hit, no doubt, gave the sold out crowd goosebumps. 

    At one point, Jay DeMarcus stated the Band was going to take requests from the crowd and he seemed to pretend to ask fans to give them requests.  This seemed a bit fabricated because the songs they then performed turned out to be some of their biggest hits.  Nonetheless, it was great to hear “Praying For Daylight”, “Mayberry”, and “Sarabeth”. 

    During “Life Is A Highway”, the screen became a Nascar track with Disney’s “Cars” racing behind them.  LeVox seemed to greatly enjoy that song and the production behind him as he seemed to be at his most active on stage, which is saying a lot. 

    The set included a great mix of ballads and party tunes.  During the ballads, LeVox’s vocals thundered in the night as the stage illuminated with stars and blue lights.  During the high energy songs, such as “Me & My Gang”, Rooney and DeMarcus came to the forefront with their instrument playing and joined LeVox as the stars of the show.  The three men really feed off of each other and there is no jealousy displayed from any of the members. 

    The show concluded with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An All American Band” as the Flatts welcomed Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Eden’s Edge to the stage. 

    It really was a great sight to see all four bands on stage at the same time and trading vocals back and forth.  The harmony that proceeded with each of the bands was stunning.  I would love to hear the four of them record this song and release it as a single. 

    Overall the show was excellent and I am always a bit taken aback at how big of a following the Rascal Flatts have.  The streets were flooded with cars and traffic and the arena was filled with fans of young and old.  The All-American Bands really shined bright on the opening night in Hartford, Connecticut. 


    1. Banjo
    2. Bob That Head
    3. Fast Cars and Freedom
    4. Play A Country Song
    5. Each Day
    6. Here Comes Tonight
    7. Hot In Here
    8. Sarabeth
    9. Praying For Daylight
    10. All About the Sunset
    11. Mayberry
    12. Why Wait
    13. Broken Heart
    14. Life Is a Highway
    15. Feels Like Today
    16. Every Day
    17. Summer Nights
    18. Me & My Gang
    19. Come Wake Me Up
    20. What Hurts the Most
    21. Unstoppable
    22. All American Band (Grand Funk Railroad Cover performed with Little Big Town, Eli Young Band, and Eden’s Edge)


    Intro & Banjo
    Me & My Gang
    Why Wait
    Born This Way

    Lukas Nelson & His Band Deliver on Their Promise of Real Music

    Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
    May 25, 2012
    Arch Street Tavern, Hartford, CT

    Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real kicked off Memorial Day Weekend in Hartford, Connecticut with a spark and a flame.  The band performed an amazing eighteen song set at the Arch Street Tavern and packed it with original material, legendary covers, and gifted instrumental performances.  Lukas, son of living legend, Willie Nelson, displayed his amazing vocals as well as a plethora of electric guitar licks that could rival anyone in the music business. 

    The last time I saw the band was as an opening act on the Country Throwdown Tour last Summer.  Since then, the band recently released a new album entitled, “Wasted”, and Lukas was featured on various songs in his father’s newest album, “Heroes”.  Lukas’ appearance has drastically changed as well.  He used to have long hair and wear a cowboy hat; however, he showed up with much shorter hair, a go-tee, and dark black eye-glasses (which he did not wear while performing).  But, much to his fans delight, his sound has not wavered at all.  Lukas’ vocals were spot on and his guitar playing was impressive as ever.  From the opening note of “Golden Rule” to closing jam-out, Lukas showed exactly why the Nelson Family is often referred to as one of the most talented musical families in the business. 

    Each song had its own added “jam-out” strategically placed within the song.  Songs such as “Ain’t No Answer”, “Wasted”, “Don’t Take Me Back”, and “Four Letter Word” seemed to stand out to me as each member of the band got to shine on the tracks.  Lukas is backed by Anthony LoGerfo on the drums, Tato Melgar on percussion (mostly the bongos), and Corey McCormick on bass guitar.  The band is equally as impressive as their band leader as each member is clearly skilled at their craft.  In fact, their music is very unique in today’s world.  I cannot say what genre of music I would place the POTR in as they cross-over into everything from country to folk to rock with a bit of a Latin touch with Melgar’s infectious bongos.  Each song seemed to be extinguished with a jump kick and final intense guitar strum from Lukas. 

    Lukas delighted the crowd with a slew of his own takes on some legendary covers.  He performed a dark and spirited version of Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me In the Morning”,  had everyone singing along to David Bowie’s “Major Tom”, and brought the fans back in time with Pink Floyd’s “Money”.  However, I really thought the highlight of the set was when he sang two song’s from Willie Nelson’s newest album, “Heroes”.  As I stated, Lukas was featured on multiple songs on that album (nine in all) and he performed two of those tracks.  “No Place To Fly” is the traditional old style country song that fans are accustomed to Willie singing.  However, father and son combined for an incredible version of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” which I think is one of the best covers of any song I have heard in a long time.  Lukas did his best solo rendition without his father by his side and nailed it.  It has a hauntingly beautiful melody while Lukas’ unique voice, on that night, flowed over the song with brilliance

    The POTR finished off their set as one would assume they would, with a heart-melting jam-out session where each band member had their time to shine.  The jam lasted well over ten minutes and the band took a group bow together once they finished.  Lukas and the band waiting by the stage after their performance and greeted each of their fans.  I took a photo with Lukas and discussed his home town of Paia, Hawaii as I recently visited there – and coincidentally, Lukas was wearing a t-shirt with the town displayed on the front.  I will not hesitate to see Lukas and the POTR again and again.  Their music style is refreshing in this day in age and I hope more fans will be able to appreciate and witness their unique and talented artistry. 


    1. Golden Rule
    2. Ain’t No Answer
    3. Peaceful Solution
    4. Wasted
    5. Meet Me In The Morning (Bob Dylan Cover)
    6. Can You Hear Me Love You
    7. Wasn’t That Great
    8. Sound Of Your Memory
    9. The Joint
    10. Don’t Take Me Back
    11. Major Tom (David Bowie Cover)
    12. Don’t Lose Your Mind
    13. Money (Pink Floyd)
    14. 4 letter word
    15. Just Breathe (Pearl Jam Cover)
    16. No Place To Fly
    17. Amazing Grace (Acoustic Version)
    18. Solos by each band member individually


    Just Breathe

    4 Letter Word
    Meet Me In The Morning

    Lady A, Darius Rucker, & TS Kick Off CT’s Summer Country Concert Series

    Comcast Theater
    Hartford, Connecticut
    May 18, 2012

    It was absolutely perfect weather on Friday for the first country music concert of the year at the outdoor Comcast Theater when Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Thompson Square brought the We Own The Night Tour to Connecticut.  The New England music fans came out early and in full effect to enjoy the weather and the amazing entertainment that would follow the parking lot party.  I was lucky enough to have access to the meet and greets with both Thompson Square and Darius Rucker.  Thompson Square, consisting of Shawna and Keifer Thompson, were extremely nice and told me they were working on their next album.  They hope it will be out sometime next Spring or Summer.  After a quick discussion and a few jokes, Keifer told me he was not named after Kiefer Sutherland (I had to ask, I am a giant 24 fan). 

    Darius Rucker and I discussed his golf game since I know how much he loves the sport.  He put my handicap to shame when he told me his was a 5.  He also said that his new single is set to hit country radio on May 22nd and his new album will shortly follow.  He was personable when talking with me which is always refreshing for an artist who has had so much success for the greater part of twenty five years. 

    I got to my seat in time for Thompson Square’s set which was spirited despite only singing a few songs and not having the production effects their touring mates would.  Keifer plays the guitar and sticks to his microphone stand as he lets his wife Shawna use the stage.  They have an excellent chemistry that is neither forced and nor phony.  Giant lips popped up on stage for their smash hit and final number, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”.

    Darius Rucker, formerly the lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish, followed up TS with an incredible set that rivaled most headline acts I’ve seen.  He had the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish.  Dressed in a simple t-shirt, jeans, and nike baseball cap, Darius belted out a setlist that displayed the uniqueness that makes up this mega-star: his musical diversity. 

    He sang all of his number #1 country tunes, including “Alright”, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and “Come Back Song”, as well as, to the crowd’s delight, two Hootie songs “Only Wanna Be With You” and “Hold My Hand”.  He even sang a few covers such as Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”, Hank Williams, Jr.’s “Family Tradition” and Prince’s “Purple Rain”.  It does not get more diverse than that and he absolutely nailed each song. 

    Darius sang thirteen songs in all and his time on stage nearly equaled that of Lady A’s.  In fact, as much as I was impressed by Lady A’s performance, I think Darius’ overall set was better.  He has a stage presence that has clearly been refined over the course of his stellar career.  There is nothing he does that is staged and Darius’ free spirit is on display throughout.  Whether it is classic rock, country, or even R&B, I only hope he continues to make music and perform for a long time because all of what Darius Rucker does is flat out great. 

    After a short delay, Lady Antebellum took to the stage.  I had seen Lady A perform a few years ago as an opening act for Tim McGraw and was really interested to see if they had grown as a live act since then.  My answer was very clear right from the start.  The trio dominated every foot of the guitar shaped stage and had the crowd dancing from start to finish.  They not only improved a great deal from the first time I had seen them, they absolutely passed my expectations. 

    While Lady A kept to most of the chart-topping singles, they did throw in a few of their deeper cuts from their albums.  They even performed a few cover songs and brought out each of their tour mates, Thompson Square for the Allman Brothers classic, “Midnight Rider”, and Darius Rucker (with TS sticking around) for the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water”.  I did not particularly love their take on the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman”, but that was one of the few misses from their set. 

    The one thing that I enjoyed most was the band’s use of Dave Haywood.  The last time I saw the band live, Haywood seemed a bit lost on stage.  This time they showcased his musical abilities and gave him a plethora of different guitars and solos.  Instead of looking like the third wheel, he truly was at the forefront along with Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott.  Moreover, on the deep love songs which the lyrics really speak to a man and woman, Dave let Charles and Hillary take the spotlight and did not step forward as he had done in the past.  I thought it was a lot more effective and made their performance much more polished. 

    All in all, I left the amphitheater with a full understanding of why this Tour has been so successful.  Each of the three acts were wholesome, unique, and professional.  I really gained newfound respect for Lady Antebellum and Thompson Square, and continued my admiration for Darius Rucker’s craft.  No matter what age you are, this Tour, more than most, has something to appeal to the music fan in you. 


    Thompson Square:

    1. I Got You
    2. Let’s Fight
    3. Getaway Car
    4. One Of Those Days
    5. Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not

    Darius Rucker:

    1. Love Will Do That
    2. Alright
    3. The Craziest Thing
    4. It Won’t Be Like This For Long
    5. Only Wanna Be With You (Hootie & The Blowfish Cover)
    6. The Joker (Steve Miller Band Cover)
    7. Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It
    8. Come Back Song
    9. History In The Making
    10. Hold My Hand (Hootie & The Blowfish Cover)
    11. Family Tradition (Hank Williams, Jr. Cover)
    12. This
    13. Purple Rain (Prince Cover)

    Lady A:

    1. We Owned The Night
    2. Stars Tonight
    3. Our Kind of Love
    4. Dancing Away With My Heart
    5. Wanted You More
    6. Perfect Day
    7. Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
    8. Just A Kiss
    9. Hello World
    10. American Honey
    11. Midnight Rider featuring Thompson Square (Allman Brothers Cover)
    12. Black Water featuring Darius Rucker & Thompson Square (Doobie Brothers Cover)
    13. I Run To You
    14. Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones Cover)
    15. Looking For a Good Time
    16. Need You Now (Encore)

    Darius Rucker – Only Wanna Be With You

    Darius Rucker – Hold My Hand
    Darius Rucker – Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It
    Lady A – American Honey
    Lady A – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

    The Hag Leaves CT with Legendary Memories

    Merle Haggard
    Warner Theater
    Torrington, CT
    April 19, 2012

    In a time where music is dominated by autotune, backup dancers, and absurd clothing, it is not every day an audience can see a real living legend.  Thursday was the exception, as country music legend Merle Haggard took to the stage at the intimate Warner Theater in Torrington, Connecticut.  The Hag, as he is often referred to by his real fans, has overcome a recent bout with pneumonia and has taken on an ambitious tour packed with plenty of back to back tour nights. 

    Despite all of these speed bumps, Merle sounded absolutely magnificent on Thursday night.  His son, Noel, and his daughter started things off with a short set.  They sang some classic style country music and you could see that the talent has spread throughout the Haggard Family.  At approximately 8:15, The Hag took to the stage with a black hat, sunglasses, and electric guitar.  He started things off with a lesser known song, “All My Friends” (see video below), and followed it up with a slew of mega-hits: “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down”, “Mama Tried” (see video below), and “Big City” and “Silver Wings”.  The night quickly turned into a sing-a-long as fans, young and old, knew the songs word for word.

    I read a review of Merle’s show from this past weekend at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and saw the setlist from that night.  I was expecting an identical setlist, but was very surprised that it was not.  He sang some of my personal favorites on this night, such as “Heaven Was a Drink of Wine”, “I Am What I Am” and his closing song, the legendary song “Pancho & Lefty” (see video below), originally recorded with Willie Nelson.  He even sang a song, “Back To Earth” from the iconic double album “Last of the Breed”, which he recorded with Willie and Ray Price.  It was a dream setlist and Merle’s vocals were spot on. 

    Merle did not do much talking between the songs, but when he did he showed his sense of humor.  He poked fun at himself when he introduced his Band, The Strangers, and said they were the Band of the Year when he was twenty years old and now his is forty.  He told the crowd that he expects his song “If We Make It Through December” to be more valuable and royalty checks to go up because of all of the doomsday predictions for this coming December.  He also facetiously stated that his career was going so well until he had to release a song called “Okie From Musgokee” (see video below) and everything was downhill from there. 

    I have had the pleasure of seeing various artists who have achieved legendary status, such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Carlos Santana, and Paul McCartney.  Merle’s performance and vocals stacked up to the best of the icons I have seen live.  He even surprised me when he took hold of a fiddle and played it to perfection during his new song “Working In Tennessee”.  Everything Merle did that night was just that, in my eyes, perfection.  It has been a long wait for me to see The Hag, but sitting in the 13th row in such an intimate theater such as the Warner Theater, it made me appreciate what he has done for music history, that much more. 


    “Pancho & Lefty”

    Intro & “All My Friends”
    “Mama Tried”

    “Okie From Muskogee”

    “Are The Good Times Really Over”


    1. All My Friends
    2. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
    3. Mama Tried
    4. Big City
    5. Silver Wings
    6. I Am What I Am
    7. The Highway Is My Home
    8. Ramblin’ Fever
    9. What Am I Going To Do With the Rest of my Life
    10. Heaven Was a Drink of Wine
    11. Are The Good Times Really Over
    12. Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink
    13. Back To Earth
    14. If We Make It Through December
    15. Working In Tennessee
    16. Sing Me Back Home
    17. Okie From Muskogee
    18. Pancho & Lefty

    Mr. 305 Ignites Radio City

    Radio City Music Hall
    New York City
    April 6, 2012
    Planet Pit Tour

    On Good Friday, Pitbull brought his Planet Pit Tour to the immaculate Radio City Music Hall in New York City for a two night affair.  I was in attendance for the first night and the fiery hit maker did not disappoint.  Backed by a full band, a large projection screen, and a catalog of recognizable songs, the man who has self-proclaimed himself as Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide, showed that he is an artist who loves to give his fans exactly what they want.

    The night began with an impressive DJ set from Alex Sensation, a latin DJ/producer.  Sensation mashed up popular latin songs with today’s top 40 hits.  He had half of the crowd already up and dancing – and had everyone energized.  The next two opening acts did the complete opposite and were the one real downfall of the night.  Jamie Drastik was especially terrible.  He wore orange sweatpants, a red sweatshirt and a jean vest and attempted songs such as “White Boy Wasted”.  He failed to connect with the crowd whatsoever.  For a venue as great as Radio City, I would have preferred a lot more of DJ Alex Sensation and a lot less of White Boy Wasted.  Nevertheless, the opener’s sets were short and it was time for the main event.  The lights went black and the curtains went up, and out walked Mr. 305.

    The speakers pumped out the Intro from Pitbull’s latest album, “Mr. Worldwide” as he made his grand entrance.  The lights and giant screen behind him illuminated as he blasted into one of his biggest hits to date, “Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)”.  Pitbull is ever the performer.  He was dressed in an all black suit, complete with a black button down, black tie, and black sunglasses. 

    Pitbull continuously and energetically dances around the stage with a plethero of latin dances moves mixed hip-hop swagger.  He jumps, he runs, he dances, and  he interacts with the crowd.  All throughout the show, he was very gracious, constantly thanking his fans in both English and Spanish.  Very often you heard him say “thank you guys and mucho gracias.” 

    The setlist was designed perfectly and could pass as both a mix for a dance party at a club or a tracklist for a Zumba class at the gym. To the crowd’s delight he performed a great deal of the songs he has been featured on, such as “Party Rock”, “I’m In Miami”, “I Like It”, “Get It On the Floor”, and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”.  Lately, it is difficult to listen to a top 40 radio station for even twenty minutes and not hear a song Pitbull is, at least, featured on.  He has become a master a picking his guest spots. 

    Pitbull certainly did not forget where his roots are as he gave a lot of love to the dominant group of people in the crowd that night: Latinos.  Several times during his show he busted out latin dances as merengue music exploded through the speakers.  He shouted to his fans phrases such as “latinos para arriba para delante y al que no le guste para el carrajo” and made it known his pride for being Cuban.

    Real standout portions of the show included his hits “International Love”, “Rain Over Me”, and his final song, “Give Me Everything” (video below):

    Although featured guests such as Enrique Iglesias, Chris Brown, Marc Anthony, Nayer, and Neo did not come out on stage, Pitbull’s energy and passion made up for the absence of such stars.  The crowd responded to his energy the entire night as no one sat down and everyone was sweating at the end of the night from dancing so much.  It is not often that an artist can carry a crowd on its feet throughout an entire live set. 

    Pitbull did have one special guest, as latin rapper Sensato took the stage with him for a few songs.  The two did their Latino rendition of Jay-Z and Kanye West, as they performed “Latinos in Paris”, obviously a remix of the mega-hit off of the Watch The Throne album.  Pitbull ended his set by once again thanking the crowd and shouting out “Mister 305, checking in and checking out” and left the stage while his newest single played in the background, “Back In Time” off of the Men In Black 3 Soundtrack. 

    It has been the second time I have seen Pitbull perform live.  This time it made is quite apparent that Pitbull has both real star power, and staying power.  He continues to crank out hit after hit and unlike many rappers before him, his live shows are spectacular.  He has been able to  take the best from all worlds, be it the Latin music community, the pop world, and the rap world and combine them into one extremely enjoyable experience.  I look forward to attending the next dance party with Mr. 305. 


    1. Mr. Worldwide
    2. Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)
    3. Can’t Stop Me Now
    4. Give You What You Want
    5. WataGataPitusBerry (Black Point Cover)
    6. Sexy and You Know It (LMFAO Cover)
    7. International Love
    8. Pause
    9. Say Hello
    10. Party Rock Anthem (LMFAO Cover)
    11. I’m In Miami
    12. Move, Shake, Drop
    13. Shut It Down
    14. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover)
    15. Let It Rain
    16. Bon, Bon
    17. Throw Your Hands Up
    18. Merengue Song Medley
    19. The Anthem
    20. Krazy
    21. Shake Senora
    22. Shake
    23. Culo
    24. I Know You Want Me
    25. Get It On the Floor (J Lo Cover)
    26. I Like It (Enrique Iglesias Cover)
    27. DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (Usher Cover)
    28. Hotel Room Service
    29. I Got a Feeling (Black Eyed Peas Cover)
    30. Crazy People (with special guest Sensato)
    31. Latinos In Paris (with special guest Sensato)
    32. Give Me Everything

      Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan Bring Their Kinda Party To NJ

      Jason Aldean
      My Kinda Party Tour
      featuring Luke Bryan, DeeJay Silver, and Lauren Alaina

      March 24, 2012
      Izod Center, New Jersey

      This past Saturday night was the long awaited My Kinda Party Tour stop in the swamps of Jersey which showcased two of Country Music’s new stars: Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.  The two artists, both from Georgia, probably never thought a few years ago that they would be able to fill an arena in Northern New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City, but they did just that.  In fact, just reported that Saturday night’s show “set a new record for a Country concert with more than 19,000 fans, breaking Shania Twain’s previous record of 15,749 in 2003.” 

      The show started with a set from American Idol alum, Lauren Alaina.  I was unable to see her set, but was treated to seeing her stage presence during her tour-mates sets.  I walked in to the first of two sets by DeeJay Silver, a dj/remixer/producer who had the crowd entertained between acts. 

      DeeJay Silver cranked out remixed versions of everything from Eric Church to LMFAO to Garth Brooks to Flo Rida.  I really enjoyed his craft because the songs he mashed up really worked well although the genre’s are so different.  I look forward to hearing more from DeeJay Silver and I believe he is on to something with his mind for music mash-ups. 


      The lights went dim and rapper Flo Rida’s song “Good Feeling” played as the entire arena got on their feet.  Upon the large projection screen hanging high above the stage, a short video showed a Farmer in Georgia discussing how vital rain is to his life and crops.  This of course set up Luke Bryan’s mega-hit “Rain” which he emerged to from the back of the unique, but complicated stage set up. 

      Luke has recently emerged as major name in country music, but has been steadily building his name over the past five or so years.  He played homage to all his hits off of his three albums thus far.  After “Rain”, he sang “Country Man”, then went on to “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  Throughout his set he was extremely active, using all sides of the stage and interacting with the crowd. 

      The one thing that truly stood out to me was the screams of the crowd.  I have been to well over 200 concerts and it is not often that the women in the crowd scream more than they sing.  Justin Timberlake, Enrique Iglesias, and the other pop heartthrob singers get that treatment, but this was the first country artist I’ve seen get that reaction.  Luke has become much more than a country artist, it was very clear.  And he played that up, to the woman’s delight, especially on his latest single, “Drunk On You”, where he did half the song acoustically (shaking his body and dancing playfully throughout), then fired it up with the band.

      He did not forget about the men in the crowd as he shouted “where are my deer hunters at? Where are my beer drinkers at?” And followed it up with the bombastic “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets”.  He interacted with the crowd and really seemed gracious with the streams and cheers.  He stated how much it meant for him “for coming up here and playing across the river from the greatest city in the world”.  Much of the crowd, admist the screams, yelled out a similar ode to Bruce Springsteen as they would call out “Luuuuuuuuuke” between songs. 

      He showcased his piano skills during his first ever #1 hit, “Do I” and a version of Adele’s “Someone Like You”.  He cranked out the inner rocker as he mashed up his first single “All My Friends” with Metallica’s “Enter The Sandman”.  He had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he had everyone singing to his latest number #1 “I Don’t Want This Night To End”.  But there was not a higher bit of energy the entire night than on his final song, an auto-tuned remix of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”.

      Not only did he shake it for the crowd, but he brought out Lauren Alaina, who did her own country girl dance (and poked fun at the way Luke dances).  And he brought two males from the crowd to attempt their own dances, which did not work out that well – and Luke really had a good time poking fun at their lack of skills. 

      Overall he put forth one of the more spirited opening acts that I have witnessed. This man is very close to selling out arenas with his name at the top of the bill.

      DeeJay Silver came back out to keep the crowd on their feet and energized for the headlining act. He did a great job at doing just that as portions of the crowd were fist pumping and “jersey turnpiking” to the club hits. By the time Jason Aldean took to the stage, the Izod Center was transformed into a full on party atmosphere. Wasting no time, Jason smashed right into “Johnny Cash”. 

      Jason, for some reason, decided to slow things down a bit for the next three songs: “Big Green Tractor”, “Amarillo Sky” and “The Truth”.  Despite half the crowd losing a bit of their party tenacity, Aldean’s vocals proved to be enough to carry through.  He has such a brilliant live voice in which he can really showcase in all notes, whether it be high or low.  And in those three slower songs, I was mesmerized by the pipes he contains. 

      Jason then told everyone to get back on their feet and “get as crazy as you want to Jersey!” – following it up with the vigorous “Crazy Town”.  The stage set up contained several moving projection screens suspended by wires on large cranes.  It also contained several areas on both sides where Jason could perch himself up and show himself to his fans.  There was no large screen behind the stage, as has been the custom for most artists.  Instead, he had a 360 degree stage where fans could sit behind the stage as well.  It was a cool setup and has allowed for Jason’s streak of record breaking crowds. 

      After singing his latest single “Fly Over States”, he told the crowd he is finishing up a new album and wants to release it before the end of the year.  He then, abruptly, jumped off the front of the stage and ran through the crowd to the back area, where DeeJay Silver had been set up.  Then Luke Bryan jumped up on the platform with him. 

      The crowd went nuts as the two stars ran through a fun acoustic set.  Jason asked Luke why the crowd was boo’ing him and he responded that he wasn’t being boo’ed, but getting his “Springsteen moment”.  He then sang a snippet of “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. 

      The two friends discussed life in Georgia, their new found fame, drank some beers together and sang some classics like George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” and Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On”.  Jason then explained how he was upset Luke was not including his favorite song by him in his set anymore.  They then made up for that omission by singing “We Rode In Trucks” together.  It was a special alternative set and I always love to see artists collaborating live.  What made it that much more special is how the two Georgia boys seem to really admire each other.

      Jason returned to the main stage and pumped out a few more vocal delights, “Tattoos On This Town”, “Relentless” and the mega-hit “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, which originally features Kelly Clarkson.  Instead, he brought out a dressed up Lauren Alaina who did a great job with the very difficult vocals.

        Lauren really impressed me as she moved about the stage with the confidence of a veteran and Jason absolutely nailed his vocals giving everyone goosebumps. 

      Jason did not slow things down any longer as he pumped out “My Kinda Party” and “She’s Country” as the final two songs of his set.  Drummer Rich Redmond displayed his often humorous yet very effective drumming skills throughout the two energetic anthems.  Jason left the stage for a short few minutes and returned for his encore.

      As impressive as Jason’s live vocals are, his rapping skills are equally impressive.  He performed a perfect version of his rapid fire hip hop/country song “Dirt Road Anthem”.  Microphone in hand, Jason moved about the stage to the song with all the swagger and bravado of any rapper just over to the river in NYC.  The crowd helped Jason recover as they belted out the chorus to the catchy song. 

      He finished things off with his first ever single, the John Rich written “Hicktown”.  He included all the extra verses and gave the crowd everything he had left.  Overall, Aldean brought a hell of a party to NJ, full of rocking country anthems, love songs, great vocals, a unique stage set up, and a cast of tour-mates that had something for every fan.  I look forward to seeing this same tour again and would highly suggest you don’t miss out on this party. 

      Luke Bryan Setlist:

      1. Rain
      2. Country Man
      3. Someone Else Calling You Baby
      4. Drunk On You Acoustic
      5. Drunk On You
      6. Drinking Beer, Wasting Bullets
      7. If You Ain’t Here To Party
      8. Someone Like You (Adele Cover)
      9. Do I
      10. All My Friends (Enter the Sandman snippet)
      11. I Don’t Want This Night To End
      12. Country Girl (Shake It For Me) w/ Lauren Alaina

      Jason Aldean Setlist:

      1. Johnny Cash
      2. Big Green Tractor
      3. Amarillo Sky
      4. The Truth
      5. Crazy Town
      6. Fly Over States
      7. Glory Days – with Luke Bryan (Bruce Springsteen cover)
      8. Amarillo By Morning – with Luke Bryan (George Strait cover)
      9. Time Marches On – with Luke Bryan (Tracy Lawrence cover)
      10. We Rode In Trucks with Luke Bryan (Luke Bryan cover)
      11. Tattoos On This Town
      12. Relentess
      13. Don’t You Wanna Stay (with Lauren Alaina)
      14. My Kinda Party
      15. She’s Country
      16. Dirt Road Anthem (ENCORE)
      17. Hick Town (ENCORE)


      NYC Spills Its Blood, Sweat, & Beer (with the help of Eric Church & Brantley Gilbert)

      Eric Church
      Blood, Sweat & Beer Tour
      Featuring Brantley Gilbert
      March 15, 2012
      Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

      Eric Church brought his rowdy Blood, Sweat & Beer Tour to the concrete jungle of New York City on Wednesday night and his fans were ready to rock.  A long line of hundreds of fans lined the wall of the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street hours before the show.  The City’s weather was unusually warm for mid-March and it all made for an even rowdier and party atmosphere.  There were plaid shirts, cowboy hats, and boots galore …

      I had a meet and greet with the opening act and rising country star, Brantley Gilbert.  I had never seen Brantley live, but have been listening to his “Halfway To Heaven” Album since its release.  Brantley was a soft spoken guy when I met him, but he was full of smiles and seemed to really enjoy meeting his fans backstage. 

      Once he hit the stage, this soft spoken guy became a dynamic firecracker. 

      The speakers exploded with “Boom” by P.O.D. as Brantley and his crew took the stage.  He took the mic and simply stated “let’s raise some hell”.  He ripped into a cover of Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party”, a song in which he actually wrote.  He flawlessly sang the song with passion and energy that rivaled Aldean’s own version.  He changed from song to song quickly without much chatter, but his stage presence, energy, and fist pumping had the crowd enticed throughout. 

      After “Hell on Wheels”, he played a few rifts of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” as an intro for his biggest solo song to date: “Country Must Be Country Wide”.  The New York City crowd sang along word for word and Brantley responded by allowing us to sing the chorus at points.  Upon the finish of the bombastic song, the crowd gave him the first of his many standing ovations.  His response was “wow, you guys are bad ass”.

      He got another standing ovation after his next song, which was another song he penned for Jason Aldean, the hip-hop/country anthem “Dirt Road Anthem”.  Brantley rapped the verses with perfection and showed great composure with the fast moving song.  He showed more admiration for the crowd as he stated “New York, ya’ll know how to throw down, I am impressed”. 

      The rest of his set included his newest single, “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”, which shows a softer side of the rowdy artist, followed by “Hell On An Angel”, “Take It Outside” and “Kick It In the Sticks”.  His last song is as much of a hard rock song as it is country.  He had the crowd fist pumping and bouncing as he pumped the lyrics through the microphone with gusto.  I was extremely impressed by his entire set.  So much so that I can almost guarantee that he is an act with extreme staying power and the potential to be head-lining shows himself in the near future. 

      After a long wait, the main act was ready to hit the stage.  My only complaint with the night was the venue itself.  The Hammerstein Ballroom was extremely cramped and overcrowded, so much so that I would almost question whether they sold more tickets that the floor could handle.  But as for the actual performance, country music’s Chief was flawless.  He came out to the rousing “Country Music Jesus” and the show was off and running.

      Eric had his typical look: trucker hat, aviator sunglasses, and a black shirt.  It took him a few years to find a look, but he has certainly found one.  Smoke, dry ice, an intense light show, and backdrop changes were all a part of the show, but it was the energy from Eric that really produced the excitement.  He ran through hit after hit, as well as plenty of his non-radio cuts such as “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag”, “Carolina”, “I’m Getting Stoned”, “Jack Daniels”, and “Livin’ Part of Life”. 

      No matter the song, hit or album cut, the crowd seemed to know every word.  Eric changed instruments a few times, such as grabbing a banjo for the ferocious “Creeping” and sat down at a piano for the final song of his encore.  He slowed things down towards the end of the set as he sang 3 acoustic songs: “2 Pink Lines”, “Sinners Like Me”, and “I Love Your Love the Most”.  The latter, surprisingly, had the biggest response of the night and Eric allowed NYC to sing most of the song in unison back to him. 

      After the acoustic set, he really raised the decibels as he performed his first #1 Billboard song, “Drink In Your Hand”.  Pyrotechnics flashed the stage as everyone raised their glasses along to the party anthem.  He didn’t slow down there as he followed it up with “Lotta Boot Left To Fill”.  Back to back high energy songs had Eric slamming his own chest, throwing middle fingers in the air, and feverishly pumping his fist.

      The last two songs of his set before the encore, in my opinion, raised Eric to the A-list artist that he is now considered: “Homeboy” and “Smoke A Little Smoke”.  Each song had its own backdrop and guitar solo’s that perfectly placed to show emphasis on the mega-hits. 

      He came back out after a brief absence with a two song encore which began with the heartfelt “Boots”.  The crowd responded with many people taking off their own boots and holding them in the sky.  It was a pretty awesome sight to see (see picture #2 above).  He then sat down at a piano and played the intro to his latest single “Springsteen”. 

      The infectious song had most of NYC singing along, while others yelled out “BRUUUUUUCE”.  Eric had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout and the entire show was fast moving, but packed with plenty of material.  Eric has certainly proven that he can headline his own tour as the venue was absolutely packed.  It has been quite a year for Eric and I expect his success to keep growing in the future. 


      Brantley Gilbert

      1. My Kinda Party
      2. Hell On Wheels
      3. Country Must Be Country Wide
      4. Dirt Road Anthem
      5. You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
      6. My Kinda Crazy
      7. Hell On An Angel
      8. Take It Outside
      9. Kick It In the Sticks

      Eric Church

      1. Country Music Jesus
      2. Guys Like Me
      3. Hell On the Heart
      4. Pledge Allegiance to the Hag (with Pancho & Lefty rifts)
      5. How About You
      6. Carolina
      7. I’m Getting Stoned
      8. Jack Daniels
      9. Living Part of Life
      10. Hungover and Hard Up
      11. Creeping
      12. Keep On
      13. 2 Pink Lines (Acoustic)
      14. Sinners Like Me (Acoustic)
      15. I Love Your Love the Most (Acoustic)
      16. Drink In Your Hand
      17. Lotta Boot Left To Fill
      18. Homeboy
      19. Smoke A Little Smoke
      20. These Boots
      21. Springsteen

      Zac Brown Band Lights Up Nashville

      Zac Brown Band
      w/ Nic Cowan, Sonia Leigh,
      Sarah Dugas, and Arnold McCuller
      December 30, 2011

      Bridgestone Arena
      Nashville, TN

      I attended the Zac Brown Band concert in Nashville, TN this past week.  It was my first time and first night in Nashville and everyone seemed to be just as excited as I was.  Honky Tonk Row aka Broadway was jumping with people for hours before the show and you could feel the energy oozing up and down the block.  Bridgestone Arena is a massive building, as far as Arenas are concerned, and the inside appeared to be very clean and well thought out.  I made my way down to the floor level where the show had a General Admission Pit. 

      I walked into sounds of the initial opening act, Sarah Dugas and was a bit confused about what I heard. She at first was not singing in English, then proceeded to belt out sounds, not words, in a high octave that made myself and others around me cringe. I was happy only to hear a few songs by her and will certainly pass on her in the future. To my surprise, Mac McAnally, the Grammy and CMA Award Winner, was in crowd next to me.  I spoke to him for a few minutes and, at one point, he stated “well you are in for a great show, the guys are really talented”.  He was humble, gracious, and allowed a few fans to take pictures with him right there on the floor. 

      The next two opening acts up’d the ante from the rocky start and the night finally was on its way.  Nic Cowan performed his funky Country/Americana songs: “Hard-Headed”, “Woke Up This Morning”, and “Cut It Loose” and he had the crowd dancing throughout.  I have really enjoyed Nic’s music and was hoping for a longer set than just four songs, but he did perform a new single that has a lot of promise.  Sonia Leigh was next and she came out with high energy right away.  She is a very unorthodox female singer who is way more Americana than Country, but it works for her.  “Money” and “Bar” are catchy songs and she has a passion for her songs.  I do not think she will ever be a regular on country radio, but her fans could care less. 

      It was finally time for the main event and the extravagant stage illuminated with stars, lights and lazers and the Zac Brown Band jumped into their newest #1 smash hit, “Keep Me In Mind” and never looked back.  I have seen ZBB over seven times and they keep getting better and better.  No setlist has ever been the same and each show has new surprises. 

      I was half expecting Alan Jackson to show up for “As She’s Walking Away” since we were in Nashville, but when he didn’t it did not bother me all that much.  Especially since they followed up those first two #1’s with their rendition of Charlie Daniel’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”.  Excuse me for saying this, and I may get hate mail for it, but I think Zac and the boys’ version is better than the original.  Jimmy De Martini is an absolute master with the fiddle.  That, and the intensity and skill the other members of the band play their instruments with make that song a must at each ZBB show. 

      For the first time since I have seen them live, Zac added two new band members to the stage.  One  was a saxophonist that resembled Justin Bieber and another was a bongo player who later on had a “drum-off” with ZBB’s Chris Fryar.  Both were highly skilled and really added a new flavor to the already overly talented Zac Brown Band. 

      The setlist flowed perfectly with #1 hits and deeper cuts off the Band’s two albums in which all the fans in the sold out arena seemed to know word for word.  There were several songs that were meshed with other classics, such as “Free” mashed with “Into the Mystic” and “Where The Boat Leaves From” and some Bob Marley classics.  One highlight was when “Isn’t She Lovely” was mashed up with John Mayer’s “Neon”.  If I thought Jimmy De Martini was amazing on their earlier Charlie Daniels rendition, he showcased his ridiculous talent even more on a spellbinding fiddle solo on “Neon”. 

      Zac brought out Sarah Dugas along with soul/R&B singer, Arnold McCullen for a cover of “Use Me”.  ZBB let Arnold and Sarah handle the vocals and Zac really seemed to be enjoying himself during the funky song.  This song was suprisingly followed up by a cover of hip-hop group Outkast’s “So Fresh and So Clean”.  That is the real beauty of the Zac Brown Band, their range of songs are unlike anyone in the business.  I have seen them cover songs from Pink Floyd, Outkast, Sir Mix A Lot, to Tom Petty, Alabama, and Rage Against the Machine. 

      The stage for this tour was much more extravagant than the recent tours.  It had rotating and moving spotlights as well interactive screens that changed colors and showcased live images of each of the Band members. 

      The Encore began with the drum-off that I spoke of earlier and was followed up with a masterful version of “Can’t You See” with Band member, Clay Cook, on vocals.  He too has a wonderful voice and really put his all into this song.  The whole crowd responded with applause and their voices back. 

      The Nashville crowd exploded during the next few songs.  First was “Colder Weather”, arguably the Band’s most successful single, to date.  Bridgestone Arena sang along to the song word for word and Zac’s voice was never better.  I heard reports that Zac was sick during the show and needed an emergency shot of antibotics before the concert.  I would have never known unless for those reports because, to me, his voice was as clear and strong as ever. 

      Lastly was a mashup of “America. The Beautiful” with “Chicken Fried”.  The two songs flow so well together and the whole crowd went crazy during the chorus of the latter.  Zac and the boys ended the song with a jam-out in which each member had a short solo.  Zac finished and stated to the crowd in a loud, booming and passionate voice: “I know a lot of you have seen us at Awards shows lately and we have come up empty handed. But we do not judge our success by those Awards, it is by this right here – you the fans! And as long as you guys keep coming out and filling up these Arenas for our shows, I guarantee we will be here in 20 years still doing this for you. So thank you Nashville!”. It was powerful and obviously truthful statement in which Zac really exclaimed with passion. 

      The show was incredible and everyone walked away completely entertained and extremely satisfied.  As the Nashville crowd walked out of the Arena and right onto Honky Tonk Row, they knew that in twenty years they would indeed be seeing Zac and the boys again, because this Band is not going anywhere but the top. 

      1. Keep Me In Mind
      2. As She’s Walking Away
      3. Devil Went Down To Georgia
      4. Free
      5. Into The Mystic
      6. Where The Boat Leaves From
      7. Islands In The Stream
      8. Jolene
      9. Highway 20 Ride
      10. Not Okay
      11. Who Knows
      12. Knee Deep
      13. Whiskey’s Gone
      14. Use Me (with Sarah Dugas and Arnold McCullen)
      15. So Fresh and So Clean
      16. Sic Em On A Chicken
      17. Isn’t She Lovely
      18. Neon
      19. Make This Day (with Mastiff)


      20. Drum Solo’s by Chris Fryar
      21. Can’t You See with vocals by Clay Cook
      22. Colder Weather
      23. America The Beautiful
      24. Chicken Fried

      Rodney Atkins Takes a Back Road to NYC (original publication on

      Rodney Atkins
      iHeartRadio Theater
      Tribeca, NYC
      Nov. 4, 2011

      The original publication of this article can be found on

      On Friday night, New York City was treated to an intimate live performance from one of the rising stars of country music, Rodney Atkins.  I was greeted by Vanessa Wojtusiak, the Manager of Digital Marketing & Programming at Clear Channel Online Music & Radio, who informed me that the Theater was just renamed to the iHeartRadio Theater (formerly known as the PC Richard & Sons Theater).  This music venue is one of the best I’ve ever been to.  It gives fans an up close experience to top artists while providing exceptional acoustics.

      At approximately 7 p.m., Jonathan Clarke, an on-air personality from New York’s Q104.3 came out to warmly great the crowd and introduce Rodney.  He asked the crowd if anyone was from Rodney’s home town of Knoxville and informed us that Rodney’s last single (“Take A Back Road”) was the fastest rising of his career.  Rodney came out and modestly stated “This first request is for you guys.”  The fiddle sounded and his band jumped right into “These Are My People”. 

      Rodney is not flashy at all.  He was dressed simply in a trucker hat, a grey sweater, and brown cargo slacks.  He was very soft spoken between his songs and really lets his music do the entertaining.  He prides himself on singing about real life events that normal people can relate to.  He took the time to sing the next two songs about his son, Elijah, who was actually in the crowd.  He stated “this is for my little bear” and emotionally sang the smash hit “Watching You”.  As the yellow and blue lights swirled and filled the theater, it was an amazing moment to see his son react to the song his father was singing.  He was full of smiles and jumped up and down singing right along with him. 

      The next song was also about his son as Rodney jokingly explained that his son had just hit double digits (in age) and Rodney knew what he did when he was younger was going to come back haunt him.   But he always wanted his son to know he loved him “and it’s unconditional.”  He then sang his new song on country radio, “He’s Mine”.  It sounded even better live than it did it does on the radio as extra emotion was pumped through Rodney’s vocals.  He certainly has yet another hit on his hands. 
      Rodney took the time to introduce his band before he sang “Farmer’s Daughter” which included amazing instrumental moments from a band member playing a banjo and another on the steel guitar.  It is good old country music at its finest.  He introduced the next song as the first love song he has ever done.  He said its “hard to find a real love song because once you are in a relationship it’s not all blue skies and no bills”.   He, of course, was talking about “Cabin In The Woods”, a real stand-out song off of his newest album. 

      His next song was the one the crowd was obviously waiting for as the entire Theater sang “Take A Back Road” in unison with Rodney.  In fact, he seemed to be getting more comfortable on stage as he was very animated and interactive during this huge hit.  He followed it up by singing to a fan in the crowd who was celebrating a birthday.  He performed an acoustic version of the fan’s favorite song, Garth Brooks’ classic hit “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old”. 

      Rodney finished up his set by proudly toasting all the soldiers who were serving abroad and stating “may we all be in heaven five minute before the devil knows we’re there!”  He of course was eluding to arguably his biggest hit “If You’re Going Through Hell”.  Rodney did not use his guitar for the first time that night as he used every inch of the stage.  He was clearly most at ease singing this song and he was nothing but energy and smiles throughout. 

      I was able to speak to Rodney after the show and I asked him what he was most proud of with the new album.  His response was “Not to be trite, but we love keeping the music real to who we are. And our album’s material has not wavered from the first album. And I love the way I can keep my music true to who I am.”  He also explained to me that the album took a long time to make because he really wanted the right songs to be on the record.  My friend Max who came with me to the show explained that from one father to another, he hoped he could see his son’s face during “Watching You” and “He’s Mine”, because it was a powerful reaction. Rodney as always, was very gracious and humble.  For such a soft spoken guy, his music really speaks loudly and you could tell everyone at the iHeartRadio Theater that night really connected with his music. 

      All photos are courtesy of Jeremy Harris of iHeartRadio.  All in all, it was an exceptional show in a superb venue. Thank you to CountryMusicIsLove, iHeart Radio, and Clear Channel Radio for such a great experience.


      1. These Are My People
      2. Watching You
      3. He’s Mine
      4. Farmer’s Daughter
      5. Cabin In the Woods
      6. Take A Back Road
      7. Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old (Garth Brooks Cover)
      8. If You’re Going Through Hell

      Watch The Throne: The Madison Square Garden Edition

      Watch the Throne
      Jay-Z & Kanye West
      Madison Square Garden, NYC
      November 8, 2011

      The stars were out in New York City at Tuesday Night’s “Watch The Throne” concert at the world famous Madison Square Garden. As I took my seat in Section 107, Row 8, I could see the likes of Beyonce, Neo, Serena Williams, Fat Joe, and more. In fact, Alexandria Ambrosio and three other Victoria’s Secrets models sat down in the seats right next to me! About five minutes before the lights went out, Carmelo Anthony walked onto the floor and got a New York City home crowd standing ovation accompanied with chants of “Melo”. For all of the big names in the Garden that night, no one shined more than the true stars of the show.

      The lights went dark at about 9:30 p.m. and it was on.  Kanye appeared on a platform on the right of the arena and Jay-Z came out a few seconds later on a platform to the left.  They were facing each other as they ripped into the egotistical “H.A.M.”, a bonus track off of the “Watch The Throne” album.  Jay-Z was immediately in showman form as he kept yelling to the crowd “What’s Up?”.  After the initial song, the platforms rose into cubes thirty feet off of the ground and transformed into giant shark tanks as they rapped “Who Gon Stop Me”. 

      This was one of the highlights of the show and the shark stages are getting a lot of buzz in the world of twitter and facebook.  It really was a sight to behold.  The back and forth interaction across the arena between “Hova” and “Ye” while standing atop these giant cubes was memorable and the two rappers seemed larger than life. 

      The cubes descended back into the floor and the two superstars vanished for a few minutes as they made their way to the main stage.  For the next two and half hours the fans were treated to a sing along catalog of Jay-Z’s solo hits, Kanye’s solo hits, the duo’s collaborations over the years, and of course a heavy dose of Throne songs.  The stage set up was unique and featured a plethera of pyrotechnics, giant images on the big screens of the two, as well as a laser light show that was breath-taking. 

      As you know from my previous post on this blog, I attended the same concert two nights earlier in New Jersey.  While that show was incredible and had a distinct “wow” factor, this night was extra special.  I have never, in all of the 200 plus concerts I have attended, been part of a crowd that was so energetic. 

       The entire crowd danced, rapped, sang, jumped, swayed, and bounced along with Jay-Z and Kanye West.  And the two of them responded in due fashion.  Kanye was acting like a maniac running sprints, dancing wildly, and giving it his all.  Meanwhile, Jay-Z was as cool as ever, delivering his lyrics clearly and smoothly, and his interaction with the crowd was really what made MSG shake. 

      “Empire State of Mind” and “Encore” never sounded so good to me.  It was like Jay-Z thought of those lyrics while standing on stage at the Garden.  He was smiling throughout the show and geniunely looked like he was having the time of his life.  I took a lot of time to just study his facial expressions as well as to look around the arena at all of the people going crazy.  There was a special, special feeling in the air that night and everyone was a part of it. 

      Kanye’s wardrobe was as bizarre as ever.  He changed his clothes at least five times that night and made his way through a collection of  Bill Cosby-like sweaters.  All throughout he wore a leather skirt and leather tights.  But he gave extra that night into his performance and for once, I even saw him smile a few times.  He and his big brother clearly have a lot of admiration for each other and that was evident that night as their on stage interaction was flawless and real. 

      The setlist was a bit different from the show I saw at the Izod Center as Kanye, to my delight, added in his first single “Through the Wire” and the two sang “Made in America”.  During the latter, they dedicated the song to Heavy D, who had died that same day.  They had everyone take out either a lighter or their cell phone and the entire arena became a spectacle of lights. 

      A funny moment was after Jay-Z performed the smash hit, “Big Pimpin”, Kanye stated to the crowd “Jay-Z was my hero growing up and I always wanted to be like him. But every time I would try to live Big Pimpin, I couldn’t because ….” and the speakers broke right into the Jamie Foxx chorus of “Gold Digger”: “she take my money”. You can see the video below of this humorous scripted moment.

      The encore was completely different from Sunday night’s show and was a true fan’s delight.  “***** In Paris” was played for the third time and, of course, they did “Encore”.  The whole crowd was chanting “Hova, Hova, Hova” and Jay made sure the crowd also gave love to Kanye.  Then Jay-Z went off script and asked a fan in the crowd what time it was and said “no really, what time is it?  Like the real time”.  He then said that they had fifteen minutes to run through some more hits.  The two broke into some old classics like “Guess Who’s Back”, “Dead Presidents”, “All Falls Down”, “Get Em High”, “Jigga My *****”, and more.  They just kept turning back to the DJ behind him and called out a song that seemed to come off the top of their head. 

      Like I said, there was a special feeling in the air on that night.  The two music powerhouses combined at the World’s Greatest Arena to put on one of the best shows I have ever seen.  It was an amazing 50 song setlist, performed flawlessly and with great pride, swagger, and passion.  I have been absolutely blown away by the Watch The Throne Tour and this night was, perhaps, the best of them all. 


      1. H.A.M.
      2. Who Gon Stop Me
      3. Otis
      4. Welcome To the Jungle
      5. Gotta Have It
      6. Where I’m From
      7. Jigga What, Jigga Who
      8. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
      9. Flashing Lights
      10. Jesus Walks
      11. Through the Wire
      12. Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix
      13. Public Service Announcement
      14. U Don’t Know
      15. Run This Town
      16. Monster
      17. Power
      18. Made In America
      19. New Day
      20. Hard Knock Life
      21. H to the Izzo
      22. Empire State of Mind
      23. Runaway
      24. Heartless
      25. Stronger
      26. On To the Next One
      27. Dirt Off My Shoulder
      28. I Just Wanna Love You
      29. That’s My B****
      30. Good Life
      31. Touch The Sky
      32. All Of The Lights
      33. Big Pimpin’
      34. Gold Digger
      35. 99 Problems
      36. What A Wonderful World
      37. No Church in the Wild
      38. Lift Off
      39. ****** In Paris
      40. ****** In Paris
      41. ****** In Paris
      42. Encore
      43. Jigga My *****
      44. Blow Your Whistle
      45. All Falls Down
      46. Get Em High
      47. Lucifer
      48. Dead Presidents
      49. Guess Who’s Back
      50. Why I Love You


      Big Pimpin’ into Gold Digger
      Dirt Off Your Shoulder
      Kanye’s Cube Rise

      Made In America

      Who Gon’ Stop Me

      Watch The Throne Lives Up To the Hype In NJ

      Watch The Throne
      Jay-Z & Kanye West
      Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
      November 6, 2011

      Wow.  I attended the Watch The Throne Tour stop in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday Night expecting to see a great concert.  Instead, what I witnessed was a magical moment where two performers took their music to heights where no Hip-Hop artist had every taken it.  The show literally made me say “wow” out loud multiple times. 

      The show did not begin until approximately 9:15 p.m. and there was no opening act.  As the crowd sat in their seats with the lights on you saw a stage with raised platforms in an almost maze-like manner, with two other platforms shaped like squares, and at least six men on a hanging trapeze fixture with gigantic lights and cameras.  Yet, no one knew exactly what was going to come next.  As the lights went dim, the “Throne” instrumental music that is heard between each of the tracks on the actual Watch The Throne album could be heard.  And you could see Kanye West walk to the squared platform on the right and Jay-Z to the one on the left.  Surpringsly, the first song of the night was “H.A.M”, a bonus track on the new album.  No one seemed to mind as all of a sudden, the two squared platforms started to rise and within a minute the two superstars were on cubes thirty feet in the air trading verses filled with bravado and swagger.  

      The astounding 40 song setlist was perfectly planned.  It was a constant and entertaining trade off between Jay-Z and Kanye.  They performed songs together and then separately, each with an even amount of stage time.  Jay-Z clearly got more love from the crowd, most likely because the show was so close to where he grew up.  That’s not to say Kanye did not get love because the crowd was cheering and dancing right along with him as well. 

      The two stars traded verses on the raised cubes to “H.A.M.”, “Who Gon Stop Me”, and “Welcome To the Jungle”.  At one point the cubes pictured both pitbulls barking and then transformed into giant fish tanks with great white sharks swimming in them.  It was truly amazing to witness these effects.  Once they finished these three songs, the cubes came back down to their starting level and the lights went dark.  For the next three minutes, “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding played over the speakers and a huge American Flag was spread along the main stage.  The two came out and ripped into “Otis” and the crowd went wild.

      What I really loved about the show was the interaction between the two.  They genuinely looked like they were having a great time.  They were smiling and even traded lyrics on each other’s singles.  For instance, Kanye sang the lyrics as the police officer in the second verse of “99 Problems” and Jay-Z helped Kanye out on “Gold Digger”. 

      In fact, after Jay-Z did “Big Pimpin”, Kanye stated to the crowd “Jay-Z was my hero growing up and I always wanted to be like him. But every time I would try to live Big Pimpin, I couldn’t because ….” and the speakers broke right into the Jamie Foxx chorus of “Gold Digger”: “she take my money”. The two shared what looked like a lot of good laughs to their obviously rehearsed song set ups. 

      Jay-Z was the most interactive with the crowd that I have ever seen him.  He strolled around the stage in his typical coolness and got the crowd to put their hands in the air and make the “Roc Diamond” in the sky multiple times throughout.  Kanye had a lot less interaction, but really showed a lot of emotion during his songs dancing like a maniac and giving it his all. 

      All throughout the show, large amounts of pyrotechnics were used and the dual stages were utilized.  Kanye used the large platform on the left of the arena for a three song set highlighted by the effectious “Stronger”.  Most people seemed to take a bathroom break during the autotuned “Heartless”.  I could have done without that fairly lackluster tune. 

      I really enjoyed their rendition of “Diamonds From Sierra Leon” and “Monster”, two songs from Kanye’s past solo albums.  The two have a natural showmanship and do things so differently, yet the combination at the same time is an amazing transformation.  Kanye is self absorbed rapper, dressed in a leather kilt; Jay-Z is the crowd pleaser dressed simply in his trademark Yankee hat, black shirt and jeans.  They are so different, but somehow when they blend their styles, sure genuis is the result. 

      Another great moment was when the two slowed things down and sat next to each other on the stage.  They rapped to “New Day” and “Hard Knock Life” while sitting down as if they were just old friends sharing a moment.  It came across as genuine and really showcased the real love they have for each other.

      Three of the last four songs played was their latest #1 on the Billboard Charts, “****** In Paris”.  When the clip of Will Ferrel from his movie “Blades of Glory” came on, the energy in the building amplified to a ridiculous level.  The two blasted into the song and the crowd responded by jumping up and down.  The entire building was shaking, it was truly a sight to behold.  They finished the song once and Jay-Z stated “**** it, let’s do again” and they went right back to it. 

      The two left the stage for a brief minute and came back out for an encore.  They went right back to “Paris” and no one in the building seemed to mind.  They finished their masterpiece with Jay-Z’s “Encore” and the crowd was heard chanting “Hova, Hova Hova …” on repeat in honor of the superstar.  They finished up with Jay-Z thanking the crowd and walked off together into the dark. 

      While most of the concert was absolutely brilliant, there were a few minor things that were a bit strange.  First, was Kanye’s choice of clothing.  At first he was wearing a t-shirt with his face on it, a leather kilt, leather tights, and basketball sneakers.  He then changed halfway through into an atrocious sweater, yet decided to keep the kilt on.  Also, there were images on the two giant HD screens that were confusing.  At one point there was a police chase where police cars were getting blown up and crashed into.  Then duing “No Church In the Wild”, there were images of the Klu Klux Klan – quite disturbing. 

      But all in all, out of the 200 plus concerts that I have attending in my lifetime, this one ranks up there in the top few.  The stage design, the pyrotechnics, the setlist, and special effects all lived up to the hype that “Watch The Throne” has been receiving.  I cannot wait until I see their show at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.  All I can say is wow. 


      1. H.A.M. 
      2. Who Gon Stop Me
      3. Otis
      4. Welcome To the Jungle
      5. Gotta Have It
      6. Where I’m From
      7. Jigga What, Jigga Who
      8. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
      9. Flashing Lights
      10. Jesus Walks
      11. Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix
      12. Public Service Announcement
      13. U Don’t Know
      14. Run This Town
      15. Monster
      16. Power
      17. New Day
      18. Hard Knock Life
      19. H to the Izzo
      20. Empire State of Mind
      21. Runaway
      22. Heartless
      23. Stronger
      24. On To the Next One
      25. Dirt Off My Shoulder
      26. I Just Wanna Love You
      27. That’s My B****
      28. Good Life
      29. Touch The Sky
      30. All Of The Lights
      31. Big Pimpin’
      32. Gold Digger
      33. 99 Problems
      34. What A Wonderful World
      35. No Church in the Wild
      36. Lift Off
      37. ****** In Paris
      38. ****** In Paris
      39. ****** In Paris
      40. Encore



      Who Gon Stop Me

      ****** In Paris
      U Don’t Know
      On To The Next One
      Jigga What, Jigga Who
      Diamonds Remix
      99 Problems
      H To the Izzo
      Empire State of Mind

      Toby Keith On the Mike Huckabee Show

      Fox Studios, New York City
      Guest Star Toby Keith on the Mike Huckabee Show
      October 28, 2011

      I had the great privilege of attending the private taping of Huckabee on October 28, 2011, which is, of course, Governor Mike Huckabee’s show on Fox News.  As any reader of this blog already knows, I am a huge supporter of Toby Keith.  I caught word that Toby was going to be a guest star on the show that day and I quickly scooped up a ticket.  I had never been to a live television taping so I had no idea what to expect.  After a long wait, the 50 or so people who scored tickets were brought into a small studio.  At first we were greeted by a comedian who did his best to keep us attentive until the stars came out.  When Governor Huckabee did come out he had a few jokes for the crowd and was very hospitable. 

      You can see the video clips of the Governor with Toby Keith that were aired on television below.  The most impressive moment of my experience was something that went unaired.  During a ten minute sound check, Toby actually taught Governor Huckabee his new song “Clancy’s Tavern” on the fly.  They played through the song twice and Toby commented where he wanted the Governor to change notes.  It was a great moment as a fan to see my musical hero teach an accomplished politician and TV personality a song, which I consider the best on his new album, in such a short amount of time.  As you can see by the video, they played it to perfection.  Toby’s last comment, off camera, to Huckabee was “I will be your Huckleberry Huckabee”. 


      Toby Talks Patriotism, Politics:

      Toby & Huckabee perform “Clancy’s Tavern”:

      What was not seen on television yet was an additional segment in which they taped that same day for an upcoming Christmas Special that Huckabee will be airing on Fox News.  The two spoke about an early Christmas memory that Toby had (I will not spoil it for anyone) and again did a sound check for a version of “The Little Drummer Boy”.  After trying out several different approaches to the song, they settled on a faster paced version of the song with a drummer named Bob banging on the drums at a rapid pace.  Fans of both Governor Huckabee and Toby Keith will be very pleased with the result.  Keep your eye out for when that airs on Fox News. 

      The Civil Wars Serenade New York City

      The Civil Wars
      Town Hall – New York City
      October 27, 2011

      The Civil Wars took to the stage in New York City on October 27, 2011 at the historic Town Hall, and did not disappoint in the least.  It was fitting that this band picked such an old music venue on a night which was dark, cold and dreary.  Their music is hauntingly beautiful in a charming, old fashioned kind of way. 

      The Civil Wars is a duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White, who explained that they met in Nashville at a simple songwriting session.  They blend their distinct voices to create their own form of Americana/folk/alt-country music.  Their live show was very simple as  John Paul played an acoustic guitar while Joy mainly sang along with him.  She occasionally sat and played the piano, but mainly stood beside her co-part.  There were no flashing lights or high production effects.  Instead, the duo lets their music do the entertaining – and their fans greatly appreciate that. 

      I was blown away by how amazing they sounded live and how their voices blend so well together.  Their music truly is unlike anything today’s music has to offer.  They were fantastic on the dark “Barton Hollow” and the beautiful “20 Years”.  John Paul had a plethera of jokes for the crowd between songs and Joy danced on stage in an adorable and playful manner. 

      What was most impressive was their very unique cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which served as the first song of their encore (a video clip can be seen below).  The set flowed perfectly and the duo sounded incredible.  They have an extremely simple, yet likeable stage presence.  If you have not heard The Civil Wars yet, you are in store for a refreshing musical experience. 


      1) Tip of My Tongue
      2) Forget Me Not
      3) From This Valley
      4) 20 Years
      5) I’ve Got This Friend
      6) My Father’s Father
      7) Barton Hollow
      8) Falling
      9) Go
      10) I Want You Back
      11) Henry
      12) To Whom It May Concern
      13) Birds of a Feather
      14) Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover Song)
      15) Poison & Wine
      16) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover Song)
      17) Dance Me To the End of Love (Leonard Cohen Cover Song)


      20 Years
      Barton Hollow

      Billie Jean 


      Dierks Bentley Feels at Home in New York City

      Dierks Bentley
      Country & Cold Cans Tour
      featuring Jerrod Niemann and Eli Young Band
      Irving Plaza, New York City
      October 21, 2011

      Dierks Bentley brought his Country & Cold Cans Tour to the Big Apple for two nights this October.  I was in attendance for the second of the two shows and you could tell he felt right at home.  Last year he had a four night residency in NYC, playing a few different venues while promoting his Bluegrass album “Up on the Ridge”.  I attended two of those shows as well as two of his shows on the Jagermeister Tour, one of which he brought me and my wife up on stage (see ) – so I am very familiar with how Dierks operates.  Tonight was no different, if anything, he took the decible level up one more notch.

      Upon arriving at the Iriving Plaza, located in the heart of Union Square NYC, there was a line wrapped in front of the building and around which went on for another three blocks.  It was a quite a site to see so many hyped up country fans dressed in boots, plaid shirts, and trucker hats lined up on the streets of NYC.  The first act on the bill was the Eli Young Band.  I must admit I did not think I knew many of their songs, but once their set was off and running, I was quite familiar with most of their tunes. 

      Their lead singer has a great voice and their songs are full of memories from their hometown.  Songs such as “When It Rains”, “Only the Love Songs”, and “Crazy Girl” have had a decent rotation on country radio and were very impressive live.  The band is not flashy, but not at all dull, not down home country, but not hipster – their look was very similar to their music.  I look forward to seeing them again and buying their cd collection as well.

      Next up was Jerrod Niemann.  I had purchased Judge Jerrod’s cd the day it came out large in part for his remake hit of “Lover, Lover”, but this was the first time I have been able to see him live.  And he did not disappoint in the least.  He was extremely energetic and dynamic.  The crowd really responded and the New York City venue started to transform into a Nashville Honky-Tonk. 

      Jerrod Niemann has a very strange look.  He has long messy hair and wears a very different hat compared to most country singers and he backed by a band mixed with predominately older gentlemen that had people raising their eye-brows.  Nonetheless, people must learn to not judge a book by its cover, because the Judge and his Jury (as he referred to them) could rock. 

      He sang many of his songs off his cd including “What Do You Want”, “One More Drinking Song” and “Lover, Lover” and threw in a blues song by Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy” and Garth Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy”, which Jerrod actually wrote for him.  Jerrod was high energy with a lot of drinking songs and interaction with the crowd.  He was at his best when he had just the microphone in his hand and was up in the front of the stage.  I look for big things from him in the future and really was impressed by his set.

      After a brief intermission, the lights went low and the crowd started to scream.  Dierks has created quite a love affair with New York City after his four night stand last year and his double night run this Fall.  Of course, the Will Ferrell impersonator was in attendance (if you attended last year’s shows you know what I am talking about) and I saw a lot of familiar faces from the past NYC shows. 

      Dierks hopped on stage and ripped into a new song called “Country Cold Cans” which is a high energy song with a lot of country references (from pick up trucks to trucker hats).  I expect this song will be on his upcoming album which is rumored to have a winter 2012 release. 

      Irving Plaza was absolutely jammed packed while Dierks was on stage and people were going crazy during his set.  Dierks has a patented move where jumps straight up and down on stage and the crowd responded by bouncing up and down with him each and every time he hopped.  He brought out his full catalog of hits from “Feel That Fire” to “Every Mile a Memory” to “Sideways” and his energy level was at an all time high.

      To my delight, he even sang a few songs off his bluegrass album such as “Up On the Ridge” and “Bottle to the Bottom” and sang a few new songs, entitled “5 1 5 0” and his newest single “Home”.  “Home” is a patriotic song, not in the flag waving way, but more of an ode to America and its natural beauty.  He was very controlled and passionate during this song and the crowd responded with a slew of “U S A” chants upon its finish. 

      I have seen a countless number of country music concerts and Dierks is as good of a performer as anyone out there.  He has a natural interaction and energy that gives him a fun-loving vibe.  His career path is a bit confusing because he has the hits and persona to fill arenas, but yet he seems to stick to the mid-sized ballroom type venues.  I would love to see Dierks’ label allow him to embark on an Arena tour, he would have no problem selling well. 

      Dierks finished off his encore with his two biggest hits to date “Free and Easy” and “What Was I Thinking” and the crowd applauded him for what seemed like ten minutes.  Dierks was overwhelmed with the applause and bowed with his band multiple times.  The speakers then played “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the entire crowd began to jump straight up and down “Dierks-style” and he, of course, responded as you would expect. 

      On this night, in New York City, you could tell Dierks felt comfortable as if it was a second Home.  I expect him to keep coming back to the Big Apple as he really seems to have a great time on stage during his shows here.  Dierks, we await your new cd and cannot wait to have you back in the City that never sleeps. 


      Jerrod Niemann

      1) How Can I Be So Thirsty
      2) Down In Mexico
      3) Baseball Song
      4) Good Ride Cowboy
      5) What Do You Want
      6) Buckin’ Song
      7) Pride & Joy
      8) Get What You Deserve
      9) Everclear
      10) Lover, Lover

      Dierks Bentley

      1) Country Cold Cans
      2) Feel That Fire
      3) Am I The Only One (with an extra verse)
      4) Every Mile a Memory
      5) Tried to Stop Your Leaving
      6) Sideways
      7) 5 1 5 0
      8) Tried To Stop Your Leaving
      9) How Am I Doing
      10) Up On the Ridge
      11) Bottle to the Bottom
      12) Home
      13) Lot of Leaving Left To Do
      14) Come a Little CLoser
      15) Wish You Were Here
      16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go
      17) What Was I Thinking


      Dierks Bentley – “Home”
      Dierks Bentley: “Up On The Ridge”

      Dierks Bentley – “Am I The Only One”
      Jerrod Niemann – “One More Drinking Song”
      Dierks Bentley – “What Was I Thinking”

      Video of FX The League Live “The Shiva Song” – Gramercy Theatre, New York City

      FX The League Live
      Gramercy Theatre
      New York City
      October 7, 2011

      Anyone who is a fan of the television show “The League” on FX knows what the Shiva Song is.  I was able to catch one of the cast’s stand up shows in New York City this past Friday.  The show was absolutely hilarious.  They each performed together and separately – and we even got to see a video clip of the upcoming season.  I was in the second row and was able to tape a video of the them doing “the Shiva”:

      The cast members who performed that night included:

      1) Nick Kroll – “Ruxin”
      2) Stephen Rannazzisi – “Kevin”
      3) Paul Scheer – “Andre”
      4) Jon Lajoie – “Taco”
      5) Kate Aselton – “Jenny” (only came out at the end for the song)

      Nick Kroll

      Stephen Rannazzisi 

      Jon Lajoie 

      Paul Scheer
      The League

      The Miami Boys Warm Up New Jersey (Pitbull & Enrique Iglesias at the Pru)

      Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull
      Euphoria Tour
      Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
      September 24, 2011

      On September 24, 2011, I made my way into Newark New Jersey’s Prudential Center Arena for the Euphoria Tour starring Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull.  This pairing was an obvious choice since both artists are internationally known, both from the Miami, Florida area, and have collaborated on multiple songs.  Upon walking into the Arena we were told the show would not be starting on time as there were complications with the stage.  In fact, the show started approximately two hours late, which was quite annoying.  Luckily, the Pru Center has ample lounges serving both food and drink, which helped ease the time. 

      Up first was an artist named Prince Royce who is a “bachata” musician.  His music did not appeal to me whatsoever, but most of the crowd was happy to finally get some entertainment after the long wait.  He sang his biggest hits, such as “Stand By Me” and “Corazon Sin Cara” but for the most part, his performance was not memorable.  However, once he finished the energy in the Arena hit all time high as we all waited for Pitbull to hit the stage.  Pitbull is an artist who combines Hip-Hop with Pop with Latin music.  He has really increased his worth in the past few years thanks to his collaborations with Enrique, J-Lo, Neo, Marc Anthony, T-Pain, Akon and Lil Jon, just to name a few. 

      Pitbull took the stage with all of the swagger and bravado of a hit-making headliner.  And on this night, he out-shined his headlining counterpart.  He broke into a 19 song set that was fast moving and full of energy.  His club anthems had the entire Jersey crowd fist pumping like Pauly D and feeling like they were in Miami instead of the gloomy and cold Newark. 

      Dressed to the T, as he always is, with a black blazer, black button down, black pants, black shoes, and black sunglasses, he had a very likeable presence about him.  At no point was he preachy, dirty, violent, or self centered as many Hip-Hop artists have become.  Instead, Pitbull was simply there to help everyone have a good time.  And a good time they had – I did not see anyone in the sold out crowd sit down during his thunderous set.  Especially during “Hey Baby”, “Shut It Down”, his version of “Suavemente” and “I Know You Want Me”.  He even threw in some of his guest spots like the mega-hit “On The Floor” with J-Lo (who was not present). 

      He ended his impressive set by bringing out Nayer, a Cuban singer and model, to sing “Give Me Everything” (without Neo).  The two had the crowd singing along and waving their hands back and forth.  The song was arguably the top Pop song of the Summer (2011) and everyone knew it word for word.  Pitbull’s set was better than expected and I expect to see him headlining Arenas in no time. 

      Next up was the international superstar, Enrique Iglesias.  My wife and I had seen him at Madison Square Garden just six months before this show and we really enjoyed his set.  I was actually quite disappointed in him on this night.  I am not sure if it was because of a City time restriction and because of the show starting so late, but he only sang nine songs, and he sang one of his songs twice.  This was not the same show I had seen at the Garden just a few months before. 

      That being said, when he was singing and performing he was quite entertaining.  But on this night, he was more interested in talking to the crowd and not singing.  He even took a solid fifteen minutes to sit on stage with a male fan from the crowd and drink rum and make jokes.  He did something similar in MSG, but it was only a few minutes.  This time that portion of the show was way too long and downright annoying.

      Enrique did switch songs up between his American hits and Latin songs, as he is known to do.  And he concentrated on a lot of material from his newest cd, “Euphoria”.  When he was singing, he was energetic and happy.  The women in the crowd probably did not care whether he was singning or talking as they seemed to melt and scream at just the site of the man.  He really is a pop sensation in every sense of the word. 

      His stage and performance included a few showers of confetti and lazers that created, at times, an impressive light show.  He interacted with a few members of the crowd and even brought a woman fan on stage to sing and hug and kiss her, as he is known to do.  It is a bit creepy, but its Enrique, so I guess he gets away with it. 

      The real highlight of the night was when Pitbull came out to sing their huge hit together, “I Like It”.  Standing at the front of the long catwalk, the two artists performed the song to perfection, accented by Pitbull’s patented rapid-fire rapping. 

      I was a bit disapointed that they did not sing their other collaborative songs (“Come And Go” and “I Like How It Feels”) and do not know why they did not sing them, but at least we got one song that night where they sang together.   In my opinion, if I am on a tour with another artist that I have collaborated with on a few songs, I would do all of those songs together.  Fans like special guests and songs where multiple artists are on stage together for joint hits. 

      All in the all, the show left me with mixed feelings.  I had a lot of expectation and while Pitbull lived up to the hype, Enrique left a lot to be desired.  I would see both artists again: Pitbull because he was fantastic – and Enrique, to see if this night was just a fluke. 

      Either way, the crowd was very into the show.  I even saw a male fan rip off his shirt in pure excitement and enjoyment during “I Like It” and throw it over the railing from the top tier to the floor tier.  That is a story one cannot make up. 



      1) Mr. Worldwide
      2) Hey Baby (Drop It To the Floor)
      3) Snipet of Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
      4) Miami B*tch
      5) Shut It Down
      6) Shake Señora
      7) Bon Bon
      8) Rain over me
      9) Manos para Arriba
      10) Siavamente
      11) Shake
      12) Culo
      13) I know You Want Me
      14) Pause
      15) On The Floor
      16) DJ Falling In Love
      17) Hotel
      19) Give Me Everything (with special guest Nayer)

      Enrique Iglesias:
      1) Loving You Tonight
      2) Dirty Dancer
      3) No Me Digas Que No
      4) Bailamos
      5) Lloro Por Ti
      6) Cuando Me Enamoro
      7) Only Wanna Be With You
      8) Hero
      9) I Like It (with Pitbull)
      10) Loving You Tonight (Dirty Version)


      Pitbull & Enrique Iglesias: “I Like It”

       Pitbull: “Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)”

      Pitbull: “On The Floor”

      Enrique Iglesias: “Loving You Tonight”

      Jake Owen’s Big E Blue Jean Night

      The Big E – Comcast Arena
      West Springfield, MA
      September 25, 2011

      I had the pleasure of attending the Jake Owen concert at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts on September 25, 2011.  The Big E is one of the East Coast’s biggest Fairs, boasting rides, music, food, drinks, shopping and more.  It has also recently created the Comcast Arena Stage which seats approximately 6,000 people and has hosted some of the biggest names in the music business today. 

      My wife and I arrived and were lucky enough to have meet and greet passes with Jake.  We waited outside of his bus until he came out to greet the pass-holders.  Jake’s biggest song is “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” which is not only his first #1 single, but it is the current #1 song on both the Country Billboard and Mediabase Charts.  When he came out of the bus, he was wearing blue jeans and was barefoot.  In fact, during his entire performance, he was also barefoot.  I thought this was pretty cool that the artist actually lives the words of his biggest song in real life.

      Jake was very humble and very personable.  We spoke for a few minutes and even joked about New Jersey (since that is where my wife and I are originally from).  He asked what Exit we were from and my wife said “far from the Jersey Shore, do not worry”.  He was by far one of the most sincere and down to earth music stars that I have ever met. 

      Eric Paslay was the opening act and he sang about five songs.  He stood on stage by himself with an acoustic guitar and sang songs off of his upcoming album.  He is a skilled song writer, who actually wrote “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” for Jake and has some real potential to continue his songwriting career in Nashville.  Jake came on stage full of smiles and broke right into “Anywhere With You” from his new album. 

      I had never seen Jake live before so I did not know what to expect.  I must say I was blown away from start to finish.  He had such a real and natural interaction with the fans in the crowd.  He was constantly commenting on people in the crowd, brought up a little kid on stage, took hats from the crowd and put them on his head, took beads from a fan and wore them, and, at one point, actually jumped off the stage and came into the crowd.  Halfway through his set, during the acoustic portion, he sang a full “freestyle” song simply commenting on things he saw around the arena.  It was humorous and extremely interactive.  I really was impressed.

      He was at his best on his biggest hits like “Starting With Me”, “Something About A Woman”, “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” and of course, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” in which he brought out Eric Paslay to help he sing the song.  All of his vocals were spot on and very strong.  His energy was high level during the entire show as he used every foot of the stage from left to right. 

      Two songs were sung with deep emotion and passion by Jake.  The first was “The One That Got Away”.  He really put a lot into this song and really rocked out.  He even threw a snippet of Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl” into the last verse of the song.  The other was his acoustic version of “The Journey Of Your Life”, an emotional song about his last few moments with his grandfather and the life lessons he learned from him.  It brought tears to the eyes of the almost sold out crowd.

      He ended the night with an encore consisting of “8 Second Ride” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell”.  During the song “8 Second Ride” he brought up a young boy who appeared to be about five years old named Carson.  Carson stole the show as he showcased dance skills that had everyone clapping and admiring how cute he was.  Jake was having a ball with Carson, slapping him high five, getting on his knees next to him and even letting Carson hold his guitar. 

      Jake really showcased his love for the fans and his love for his music.  He is a very talented, extremely energetic and refreshingly humble guy.  I really recommend all my readers to check him out in concert and pick up his new CD, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”. 


      1) Anywhere With You
      2) Yee Haw
      3) Wide Awake
      4) Keepin It Country
      5) Tell me why
      6) Starting With Me
      7) Something About A Woman
      8) The One That Got Away (Remix with a snipet of “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield)
      9) Bad In Me (Remix with a snipet of “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie and a snipet of “Love Is What I Got” by Sublime)
      10) Acoustic Freestyle Song
      11) Journey Of Your Life
      12) Heaven
      13) Barefoot Blue Jean Night (with special guest Eric Paslay)
      14) Apple Pie Moonshine
      15) Alone With You
      16) Don’t Think I Can’t Love You

      17) 8 Second Ride
      18 ) That Smell (Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover)




      8 SECOND RIDE – JAKE OWEN w Carson as his dancing guest:

      Toby Keith Ends the 2011 CT Country Summer Concert Season with a Bang

      Toby Keith
      Locked & Loaded Tour
      Featuring Eric Church and JT Hodges
      Comcast Theater, Hartford, CT
      September 16, 2011

      Summer was clearly over on this cold mid-September night when the “Locked & Loaded Tour” rolled into Hartford, Connecticut.  This night would be the final night of the summer’s country music concerts series at the Comcast Theater (formerly known as the Meadows) and was arguably the best.  Despite the unusually cold temperature, the sold out crowd and jam packed lawn section was alive and rocking. 

      I was fortunate, again, to score a meet and greet pass with Eric Church.  Eric has quickly shot up the list of my favorite singers and it has been a real pleasure to meet him twice in the past few weeks.  Despite all his energy and moxy on stage, he is a very humble and evel keel guy.  We spoke for a moment about the Tour and his upcoming single (which he hinted would be “Springsteen”).  I look for great things from Eric in the future.

      I was able to take my seat, 5th row center stage, in time to catch JT Hodges.  JT had recently signed to Toby Keith’s record label and has served as the opening act along the Locked & Loaded Tour.  I did not know what to expect from him since I really only knew his single “Hunt You Down” but he showed a lot of potential.  He was at best when he was at the forefront of the stage with a microphone and interacting with the crowd rather than set back behind the microphone stand with his band.  Overall, he had a good sound and has some solid lyrics.  I look forward to his first cd release.  I was also able to meet him after his set and he was easily one of the nicest artists I have met to date. 

      Eric Church came on stage with his patented avaitor sunglases and Von Dutch denim Trucker Hat.  He ripped into “Before She Does” and pumped his fist, pounded his chest, and shouted to the crowd for the next hour.  As I stated in my review two weeks ago, Eric has an unique performance style that combines swagger and bravado with a party style bad boy image. 

      He changed his setlist up a bit and added a new fan favorite “Jack Daniels”, which a video clip is included down below.  The song is a humorous take on the morning after a night out drinking whiskey. 

      Eric was energetic throughout, and really seemed to love when he was singing the new songs of his recent #1 album “Cheif”.  He actually stated to the crowd at one point, “thanks to you guys I had the #1 album in the world for two weeks. So Jay-Z and Kanye can kiss my rift!”  This comment is evident of who Eric Church is, an artist who does not care about taking on the music industry in the way he wants to. 

      Eric was at his best on songs such as “Lotta Boot”, “Springsteen”, “Love Your Love the Most”, and “Gettin’ Stoned”, all of which sound nothing alike.  That is the beauty of Eric’s music, he never makes a similar song, but they are all country to the core – in his own gritty way.  Which is why Hank Williams Jr.’s “Country Boy Can Survive” fit so well into his set.  Eric is doing country music his own way and is surviving very well. 

      He ended his set with the booming “Smoke A Little Smoke” and had the entire amplitheatre on his feet as the sprays of smoke dominated the stage behind Eric and his band.  I fully expect this man to be headlining his own tours very soon – it is just a matter of time.

      For as much as Eric is on the rise and put forth a great performance, you could tell the majority of the crowd in Hartford that night came to see the headliner.  And just after 9:30 p.m., the lights went low and the big screen produced a short comedic sketch which pushed Ford Trucks, the sponsor for Toby’s tour.  Upon the end of the sketch, the first of a multitude of pyrotechnic M-80 blasts exploded and Toby walked to the front of the stage.  Dressed in his usual cowboy hat and a strange short sleeve aqua blue “Hawaiian” style button down shirt, Toby exploded into “Bullets in the Gun”. 

      Toby was in playful mood that night as he was full of smiles, jokes, and lyric change-ups to make some of his songs more humorous.  On tracks such as “Just Talking About Tonight” and “I Love This Bar”, his lyrics were changed to lyrics of more jokingly suggestive sexual nature which the ladies in the crowd obviously enjoyed. 

      Toby’s latest top 5 “Made in America” and a rarely sung single from the beginning of his career “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You” were two of the highlights of this show.  Both songs were sung with deep passion, one for the Country he loves and one about a woman.  The notes Toby is able to hit on both songs are so far ranging that I would be surprised if any other singer in country music could hit them, besides maybe Ronnie Dunn.  It was really spectacular. 

      However, the true highlight of the night for me was when Toby brought out fellow songwriter Scotty Emerick.  Toby and Scotty have been long time friends and have penned powerhouse singles together such as “Beer For My Horses” and “I Love This Bar”. 

      On this night, Toby and Scotty went the way of the humorous “bus songs” they wrote together and had the crowd clapping along and laughing to two acoustic versions of “Weed With Willie” and “The Taliban Song”.  Both songs are hilarious takes on topics some might find “un-PC”, but for anyone who can take on a joke can really get a laugh out of.   I have always enjoyed Scotty Emerick’s writing and even some of his own recorded music, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him out there in the spotlight with the Big Dog.

      Toby had to rush through the last couple songs of his set, probably since it was getting very late and there is an ordinance in Hartford.  There is usually a few minute period where the lights go dark and the convential encore happens.  Instead, he went right into “American Soldier” after singing “A Little Less Talk”.  I enjoy the darkness period where the crowd chants “USA” before this patriotic encore better, but Toby made it work nonetheless. 

      Toby brought up a number of our Country’s military men and had them at the fore-front shaking hands with fans and standing alongside him in a proud and exhalted manner. As he sang “American Soldier” and the thunderous “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” alongside these soldiers, Toby reminded Connecticut that you should “never apologize for being patriotic”. 

      The entire “Locked & Loaded Tour” show that night was phenomenal and truly showed that Toby Keith is still at the forefront of country music’s finest artists and performers, that Eric Church is on his way up to the top, and JT Hodges has real potential.  Sadly, the Connecticut Country Concert Season was over, but it ended at its highest point of the Summer. 


      Toby Keith – Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You

      Toby Keith with Scotty Emerick – The Taliban Song
      Eric Church – Jack Daniels

      Toby Keith – Should’ve Been A Cowboy

      Toby Keith w/ Scotty Emerick – Weed With Willie 

      Eric Church
      1) Before She Does
      2) How Bout You

      3) Hell On The Heart
      4) Drink In My Hand
      5) Guys Like Me
      6) Springsteen
      7) Getting Stoned
      8) Jack Daniels

      9) Love Your Love The Most

      10) Lotta Boot
      11) Creepin
      12) Country Boy Can Survive (Hank Williams Jr. Cover)

      13) Homeboy

      14) Smoke A Little Smoke

      Toby Keith
      1) Bullets in the Gun
      2) American Ride
      3) Just Talkin’ About Tonight
      4) Made In America
      5) Whiskey Girl
      6) Lady Marmalade (sung by Mica Roberts)
      7) I Wanna Walk About Me
      8) Get Drunk and Be Somebody
      9) Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You
      10) Who’s Your Daddy
      11) As Good As I Once Was
      12) I Love This Bar
      13) Should’ve Been a Cowboy
      14) Get Out of My Car
      15) Weed With Willie (with Scotty Emerick)
      16) The Taliban Song (with Scotty Emerick)
      17) Beer For My Horses
      18) How Do You Like Me Now
      19) A Little Less Talk, A Lot More Action
      20) American Soldier
      21) Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

      Hurricane Irene Proves to be No Match for the Goin’ Coastal Tour

      Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour
      Gillette Stadium – August 27, 2011
      Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, & Uncle Kracker
      Final Night of the Tour

      As most of the East Coast prepared for Hurricane Irene, 59,000 country music fans in Foxboro, Massachusetts, decided to hold off on dealing with the impending disaster.  Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, hosted the final night of Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour.  While some of the show featured all out down-pours, the majority of the night, including all of Chesney’s set, was rain free.

      After spending a few hours at the fun and impressive Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, which is located right next door to Gillette Stadium, we walked into the field level as Billy Currington was singing.  Billy sang the same set as I had seen a few weeks earlier at The New Meadowlands Stadium.  Billy has a ways to go with the energy and showmanship in his live performances, but his voice and songs carry him enough that he is still enjoyable.  Although I do not see him headlining a tour anytime soon, he was a good warm-up for the two powerhouses which followed. 

      Zac Brown Band hit on all cylinders Saturday night.  I have seen them live several times and this was, indeed, one of their finest.  While Billy Currington and Kenny Chesney sang almost identicle sets from the previous shows, Zac Brown and his Band switched things up totally.  Yes, the hits such as “Toes”, “Highway 20 Ride”, “Free”, “Colder Weather”, and “Chicken Fried were played, but they also incorporated other cuts that were not released as single, but the fans knew nonetheless.  As the rain stormed down on the crowd, Zac bolted out “Jolene” with such passion and pain, that no one seemed to care about the weather. 

        Zac sang a new tune called “Sweet Anne” that seems to be destined for country radio supremacy.  And of course, Jimmy DeMartini, who I consider to be the best non-vocal musician in all of country music, shined on his multiple fiddle solo’s.  The Zac Brown Band’s cover of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down To Georgie” is even better than the original.  Jimmy’s fiddle skills are particularly on display when the band does that song live.  The speed that his arm and wrist move at is absolutely remarkable.

      What is very different from most bands is that although Zac Brown is clearly the leader and face of the Band, he lets his bandmates get their “shine on” as well.  For example, on this night, Zac let Clay Cook take the vocals on “Can’t See You Tonight”.  Clay’s vocals could be lead for any other band in the land and as the rain came down at its hardest of the night while he sang this song (originally recorded by Zac with Kid Rock), the crowd could truly appreciate how talented this whole band really is. 

      The Zac Brown Band closed out their set as they always do, with “America The Beautiful” mixed as an intro into the band’s first, and biggest hit, “Chicken Fried”.  After ZBB finished doing their thing I thought to myself: wow, they were so good I almost forgot they were not the headliner of the show and Kenny Chesney is yet to come.  In fact, at least two times during their set, Zac Brown made it known to the crowd the Band is motivated to become one of the biggest acts in country music as he boldy stated “we want to come back here and play for ya’ll as a headliner” and “we will be back”.  I absolutely believe him – this Band is the real deal Holyfield. 

      To everyone’s delight the rain subsided before Chesney flew into the Stadium as there were only brief spells of drizzle during his set.  Chesney entered the Stadium as he has continously done over the past few years, on a flying apparatus extended high by cables above the floor section.  He sang the entire song “Live A Little” while flying as if he was in Cirque de Soleil. 

      Kenny did basically the same set as he did at the New Meadowlands Stadium.  He did throw in the song “She’s From Boston” and the New England Crowd graciously appreciated the hometown love.  However, Chesney was extra emotional and animated.  He normally is very active on stage, but this night, being the final Tour stop, he seemed to full of smiles more than most. 

      Chesney, for me, really shines on two songs: “I Go Back” and “Anything But Mine”.  They are the type of songs when you hear them live at his show, they are ten times better than the radio version.  The crowd sings back to him in unison with such precision and he responds to a tee. 

      At one point, CMA Chief Executive Officer Steve Moore came out on stage and presented the inaugural CMA Touring Musician Award to Chesney’s keyboard player Wyatt Beard.  Chesney said he had hired Beard ten minutes before leaving for a tour several years ago and he seemed proud to give the trophy to his bandmate – and they shared an emotional embrace. 

      Chesney brought out tour-mates Uncle Kracker and Billy Currington to help him sing some of his biggest hits.  Uncle Kracker sang “When The Sun Goes Down” and did a cover of Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” while Currington came out for the second half of the song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”. 

      Kenny sang “Boys Of Fall” to end his set and stated how proud he was to sing that particular song in a Stadium where so much history had been made.  In expected fashion, he had images of Tom Brady and various other New England Patriots on the big screen, resulting in an uproar from the crowd.

      The best part of the night was the ending when Chesney brought out the Zac Brown Band for a medley of songs.  It is obvious that Chesney and Zac have become very good friends on the Tour.  Chesney even told the crowd that Zac had set up a party the night before in which he and both members of the Bands sat around and played acoustic songs until 2 a.m. together.  The both signed the boots Kenny was wearing during his set (during the encore he performed in bare feet with mesh shorts and a baseball cap, instead of his normal boots, jeans, and cowboy hat).

      Zac and Kenny traded vocals on various covers – including Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”, Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old”, a few Bob Marley songs (in which Zac showcased his reggae skills), Sublime’s “Caress Me Down” and Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”.  As helped each other out on their own singles “Knee Deep” and “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”.  At one point, Kenny’s tourmates dumped a cooler of ice water on him.  He had to take of his shirt (in which the women around me went crazy for) and put on a sleeveless Highway 20 Ride Zac Brown Band t-shirt.

      Zac Brown and his band dominated the encore when they shocked the crowd and started doing some Hip-Hop songs including Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”.  If you thought ZBB was talented before, their medley of three hip hop songs made that even more evident.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out with a country-hop song in the near future, that’s how strong Zac’s flow was.  Even Zac’s security guard, Mastiff, came out to rap on the final song.

      The show was overall better than the one I saw at New Meadowlands Stadium and had much more energy.  Chesney seemed to hug and show love to each member of his own band, the Zac Brown Band, and each of his stage-hands and tourmates.  All 59,000 people in that wet Stadium could see two things were very evident that night: (1) It is easy to see why Kenny Chesney is considered one of the best live performers in all of music today and (2) the Zac Brown Band is well on its way to be placed in that same league. 

      Also, one final note – I have heard horror stories about the traffic getting into and out of Gillette Stadium.  Even though the show was clearly sold out, I sat in about two minutes worth of traffic total.  I’m guessing the credit should go to the Police of Foxboro, MA because it was clear sailing both in and out (for me at least). 

      Kenny Chesney – “You & Tequila”

      Kenny Chesney and The Zac Brown Band Prove to be Giants at the Meadowlands

      Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour
      New Meadowlands Stadium
      August 13, 2011
      with Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, & Uncle Kracker

      On August 13, 2011, Kenny Chesney brought his Goin’ Coastal Tour to New Jersey.  This show was special for a great number of reasons.  First off, Kenny is one of the few artists of ANY genre of music that can fill Stadiums up across the country and this was no exception.  That steamy Saturday in East Rutherford, New Jersey a record breaking crowd was on hand to see the country crooner and his large list of guests.  This particular show sold just over 55,000 tickets.  Not since country legends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard came around in 1983 had a country concert in New Jersey sold over 50,000 tickets.  This show passed that show’s number in attendance.  Sure Kenny is one of the best in the business today, but having the Grammy Award Winning and multi-talented Zac Brown Band on the bill with him sure helped with sales quite a bit.  Throw in Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker as openers and this made the Goin’ Coastal Tour the must see tour of the summer. 

      Uncle Kracker and Billy Currington opened up their shorter sets with lots of familiar music.  Uncle Kracker did his biggest hits such as “Follow Me” and “Smile” and stole some material from his old touring buddy, Kid Rock, as well as Kenny Rogers.

      Billy Currington proved to be a crowd favorite with lots of summer drinking music such as “People Are Crazy” and “Pretty Good At Drinking Beer”.  Billy used the stage and the catwalk in a slow walk, but the crowd really responded to his easy-going music.  He closed out his set with “Good Directions”, a huge hit that was co-penned by Luke Bryan – and the crowd sang along with every word.  By the time Billy was finishing up his set, I looked up from the floor to the 3 tiers of sections in the New Meadowlands Stadium and the place was absolutely packed. 

      I overheard many people who were tailgating in the parking lot state they were more excited to see the Zac Brown Band than the opener and for good reason.  This band has released 8 singles to country radio and all of them have hit number 1 on the mediabase and billboard country charts.  Zac Brown, naturally, is the lead singer and captain of the band.  However, he makes sure that the crowd knows this is not a front man act – that they are whole band.  And the entire band had their own time to shine on this day.  Zac belted out his amazing vocals and intense guitar playing skills on hits like “Toes”, “As She’s Walking Away” and “Highway 20 Ride”.   Jimmy DeMartini, the fiddle player/violinst, absolutely memorized the crowd with his ridiculous talent.  He had tons of solos such as “Quite Your Mind” and “Free” and even used his fingers on the fiddle on “Where the Boat Leaves From”.  People were shaking their heads with their jaws dropped when the spotlight was on Jimmy.

      Even members like Clay Cook and Coy Bowles got their “rock star” moments on the song “Who Knows” which is essentially a ten minute jam out song with two minutes of vocals.  The drummer, Chris Fryar, changed his clothes halfway through the band’s set from a New York Jets jersey to a New York Giants jersey – which made fans of both teams smile in admiration.  Finally, John Driskell got to add some vocals on “It’s not Okay” and had the crowd dancing and laughing at the lyrics.

      The band had a large group of the United States military come to the front of the stage before the song “Free” and they stayed throughout the final songs which happened to be a mash-up of “America, The Beautiful” and the band’s biggest single to date, “Chicken Fried”. 

      The Zac Brown Band oozes with talent, passion, emotional and unbelievable music ability.  This band will be around for a very, very long time – and will be headlining their own Stadium Tour sometime soon, mark my word. 

      After a brief delay, the rain started to fall and the crowds retreated for cover and beer refills.  But, when the lights went dark, the crowds ran to their seats – not even caring it was still raining.  And the stage curtains raised, but Kenny Chesney appeared on a raised swing in the back of the Stadium, floating above the 55,000 cheering fans.  He sang the entire first song, a recent number 1 single, “Live A Little” while flying above the crowd.

      Once he landed, he was off and running, literally. The man used every inch of the massive catalk and stage.  The lights went crazy in every direction and the huge interactive screens portrayed Kenny in different sides and angles throughout the concert.  Kenny smashed through his hits and recents songs off his newest album, “Hemmingway’s Whiskey”.

      Kenny Chesney is the penultimiate performer and he really showed it this night.  From his acoustic takes on “You and Tequila” to his giant hits like “I Go Back” and “Keg in the Closet”, Kenny had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He cranked out hit after hit after hit, each song performed with just as much energy as the one before. 

      Kenny brought out all of his opening acts for certain select songs and covers. He of course performed “When the Sun Goes Down” with Uncle Kracker, which is one of the best summer concert songs anyone has ever written.  He kept Kracker on stage for their take on The Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider” and even did their best hip-hop/country mash-up to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”.

      Kenny then surprised the crowd and absolutely shocked me, when he changed genres up completely and sang “Blister in the Sun”, a Violent Femmes Cover.  For this, he even brought the original songwriter of the song, Mark Tamburino, out for the song. 

      Once the Encore came, Kenny ripped right into “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and brought out  Billy Currington for some help.  Unbelievably, the best part of the night was yet to come:


      At this point of the show, Kenny brought out the Zac Brown Band as they teamed up with Chesney and his band during eight unbelievable songs.  Zac and Kenny took to the front and sang two of the famous country band, Alabama’s biggest hits: “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”.  They teamed up for each other’s “summery” singles “Knee Deep” and “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”.

      Then for good measure they brought up the New York Yankees’ slugger Nick Swish to help them sing “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band.  Any fan of baseball knows how much a swagger and overall enthusiasm Nick Swisher has and he was full of smiles and fist pumped on stage. 

      Zac and Kenny and their bands finished things out with a Bob Marley, Sublime and Tom Petty Cover.  They even brought ZBB-protege Sonia Leigh, the New York Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, Kenny’s mother, and others on stage to help sing and finish the party out.

      Nick Swisher:

      Rex Ryan:

      Overall, the show was long (almost six and a half hours of music), but never slowed down.  Zac and Kenny electrified the crowd and all 55K went home happy – tired and very happy.  If there was any indication that country music was alive and well in the Garden State, you just had to look at the parking lot that became the New Jersey turnpike.  But despite the traffic and rain that night, you could tell that everyone walked away satisfied.  There are only a few more dates left on this tour and I am attending one again at the end of August – I would suggest any and all to check it out. 

       Kenny Chesney Setlist:

      1. Live a Little
      2. Reality
      3. Summertime
      4. Beer In Mexico
      5. The Woman With You
      6. Big Star
      7. I Go Back
      8. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem
      9. Anything But Mine
      10. There Goes My Life
      11. You and Tequila
      12. Living In Fast Forward
      13. Young
      14. Happy Birthday to Ken (Chesney’s road manager)
      15. Somewhere With You
      16. Don’t Happen Twice
      17. Never Wanted Nothing More
      18. Out Last Night
      19. When the Sun Goes Down with Uncle Kracker
      20. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band Cover
      21. Cowboy – Kid Rock Cover with Uncle Kracer
      22. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes Cover with the songwriter Mark Tamburino
      23. How Forever Feels
      24. The Boys of Fall
      25. Encore:
      1. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy with Billy Currington
      2. Dixieland Delight – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
      3. If You’re Gonna Play in Texas  – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
      4. Knee Deep – with the Zac Brown Band
      5. Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven – with Zac Brown Band
      6. The Joker – Steve Miller Band cover with moreZac Brown Band and appearance on-stage by Nick Swisher of New York Yankees
      7. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley Cover with Zac Brown Band
      8. Caress Me Down – Sublime Cover with Zac Brown Band
      9. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty Cover with Zac Brown Band
      Zac Brown Band Setlist:
      1. As She’s Walking Away
      2. Toes
      3. It’s Not Okay
      4. Where the Boat Leaves From
      5. Crazy Love
      6. Islands in the Steam Cover
      7. Highway 20 Ride
      8. No Hurry
      9. Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Cover
      10. Quiet Your Mind
      11. My Name is Money – with Sonia Leigh
      12. Colder Weather
      13. Keep Me In Mid
      14. Who Knows
      15. Whatever It Is
      16. Settle Me Down
      17. Whiskey’s Gone
      18. Free
      19. America The Beautiful Cover
      20. Chicken Fried
      Billy Currington Setlist:
      1. Thats How Country Boys Roll
      2. I Want To Be A Hillybilly
      3. I Got A  Feeling
      4. Love Done Gone
      5. Pretty Good At Drinking Beer
      6. All Day Long
      7. Let Me Down Easy
      8. Don’t
      9. Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr. Cover
      10. People Are Crazy
      11. Must Be Doing Something Right
      12. Good Directions
      Uncle Kracker Setlist:
      1. Little While
      2. Drift Away
      3. Follow Me
      4. The Gambler – Kenny Rogers Cover
      5. Good To Be Me
      6. All Summer Long – Kid Rock Cover
      7. Smile


      1. Quiet Your Mind – Fiddle Solo – Zac Brown Band

      2. Dixie Land Delight – Kenny Chesney with the Zac Brown Band