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. 

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

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

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