Kevin Costner and Modern West April 10, 2012 Ridgefield Playhouse Ridgefield, CT
On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, Kevin Costner and Modern West brought their tour to the intimate Ridgefield Playhouse, located in the beautiful Ridgefield, Connecticut. Costner and his band are set to release their third album and have embarked on a nationwide tour.
Modern West features Teddy Morgan on lead guitar, Larry Cobb on drums, Park Chisolm on guitar, and the impressive Bobby Yang on fiddle. Also appearing as a special guest on numerous songs this tour is Costner’s daughter, Lily Costner.
Thanks to Allshows.com, I was able to attend a pre-party at the Playhouse before the show which included a backstage meet and greet pass to meet Kevin Costner. I was able to speak to him for a few minutes and he seemed relieved that I asked him about his music rather than his acting career. We discussed the music chords to a few of his songs and he was extremely talkative to me.
In case anyone is wondering, “Superman 14” is played with a G major, A Minor, and a C Major. After the party and my time with Costner, we took our seats in the unbelievably intimate Ridgefield Playhouse. There is simply not a bad seat in the house.
The band came out to “Red River” and followed it up with “Long Hard Night”. Costner explained (as you can see in the video below) he wrote “Long Hot Night” about the night with a woman, which you realize, whatever is broken with her, is just not going to get fixed. This set the theme for the night, Costner takes his music seriously and set up each song with an explanation on why it was written.
Costner explained that “90 Miles an Hour” was a metaphor for how he wants to live. Especially since he thinks it must be a bad feeling for father not to know how to help his son. He made a few jokes about his father and his relationship. His stories really brought to life Modern West’s songs and lyrics. The explanations were meaningful, deep, and extremely creative.
The crowd, for the most part, was very respectful. There was a moment where a younger woman shouted out “My Mom loves you Kevin!” He laughed and responded with “wow, that’s the point I am in my life.” He was playful and interactive throughout the night. At no point did you see any sign of the arrogance one might expect from an Oscar Award Winning Actor. Instead, his humble approach and love for music made me admire the man even more.
Costner brought his daughter, Lily, out for three songs including one of his hits, “Let Me Be The One” (see video below) as well as new songs “Indian Summer” and “All the Women In The Hills”. Lily has a beautiful voice and an attractive appearance. Costner explained that she went to school in Connecticut and called her his “little rascal who was a joy to raise”. On “All the Women In The Hills”, Daddy let his daughter take the spotlight as the entire band stood behind her as she took lead vocals on a song about the women who raised the men who fought and died in the Civil War.
Costner explained that his next acting project is going to be a series on the History Channel entitled “Hatfield and McCoys” in which he plays Devil Hatfield. He states it relies a lot of the Civil War and the Appalachian feeling going into the next century. He also wrote a song for the series, entitled “How Deep The Water Runs” which he performed (see video below).
Costner told a story about 1969 when he was young and politics were “moving fast”. He said he saw people with blue glasses and tie die shirts. However, all he wanted to do was kiss Debbie Anderson at the county fair. He said his friend told him to buy her some jewelry so he got her a St. Christopher pin, thinking that would do the trick. In the crazy 1960’s he was lost and only wanted a kiss at the county fair. And that was the basis for writing his song “Where Do We Go From Here”.
The encore consisted of two songs, the first is the Band’s newest single “Angels Came Down”, which is about the last moment a soldier has before he dies on the battlefield. The final song is clearly the band’s most popular, “Superman 14”. As you can see in the video below, Costner explains it comes from a time where you a small child and think you can be or do anything. The fiddle, played by Bobby Eng, on the song is infectious and it was the perfect way to end an impressive night.
Costner made sure his Band got credit as he got them all together for a final bow. He then came back out with a bottle of champagne, which he poured a few glasses for the lucky ones up front. He showed his appreciation for the crowd and took a final bow.
I have always been a big fan of Kevin Costner. Tin Cup, Dances With Wolves, and The Untouchables have always been some of my favorite movies. When I heard his music I was very impressed. He has a country vibe mixed with a Paul Simon/Bruce Springsteen feel to it. He obviously has a great passion for the music and that really shined bright in his live show. I look forward to Costner’s next project, whether it be in music, acting, or whatever he decides to do next.
Pitbull 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.
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.
Setlist: 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
Huckabee 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”.
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 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 Encore 16) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover Song) 17) Dance Me To the End of Love (Leonard Cohen Cover Song)
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 http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2011/03/fan-story-ryan-amy-dierks-bentley.html ) – 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.
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
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 Encore: 15) Wish You Were Here 16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go 17) What Was I Thinking
JAKE OWEN 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
ENCORE: 17) 8 Second Ride 18 ) That Smell (Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover)
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY (REMIX WITH JESSE’S GIRL) – JAKE OWEN:
BAREFOOT BLUE JEAN NIGHT – JAKE OWEN with ERIC PASLAY:
8 SECOND RIDE – JAKE OWEN w Carson as his dancing guest:
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
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)
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’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.
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:
Live a Little
Beer In Mexico
The Woman With You
I Go Back
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem
Anything But Mine
There Goes My Life
You and Tequila
Living In Fast Forward
Happy Birthday to Ken (Chesney’s road manager)
Somewhere With You
Don’t Happen Twice
Never Wanted Nothing More
Out Last Night
When the Sun Goes Down with Uncle Kracker
Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band Cover
Cowboy – Kid Rock Cover with Uncle Kracer
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes Cover with the songwriter Mark Tamburino
How Forever Feels
The Boys of Fall
She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy with Billy Currington
Dixieland Delight – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
If You’re Gonna Play in Texas – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
Knee Deep – with the Zac Brown Band
Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven – with Zac Brown Band
The Joker – Steve Miller Band cover with … moreZac Brown Band and appearance on-stage by Nick Swisher of New York Yankees
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley Cover with Zac Brown Band
Caress Me Down – Sublime Cover with Zac Brown Band
Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty Cover with Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band Setlist:
As She’s Walking Away
It’s Not Okay
Where the Boat Leaves From
Islands in the Steam Cover
Highway 20 Ride
Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Cover
Quiet Your Mind
My Name is Money – with Sonia Leigh
Keep Me In Mid
Whatever It Is
Settle Me Down
America The Beautiful Cover
Billy Currington Setlist:
Thats How Country Boys Roll
I Want To Be A Hillybilly
I Got A Feeling
Love Done Gone
Pretty Good At Drinking Beer
All Day Long
Let Me Down Easy
Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr. Cover
People Are Crazy
Must Be Doing Something Right
Uncle Kracker Setlist:
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers Cover
Good To Be Me
All Summer Long – Kid Rock Cover
1. Quiet Your Mind – Fiddle Solo – Zac Brown Band
2. Dixie Land Delight – Kenny Chesney with the Zac Brown Band
I arrived at the pristine P.C. Richard & Son Theater, located at 32 Avenue of the Americas in New York City’s Tribeca Neighborhood, about two hours before Showtime. To my surprise, there was already a huge single file line in front of the building and wrapped around the block. The fans, predominantly females of all ages, came equipped with a mixture of signs, boots, and cowboy hats. Everyone was happy to withstand the humidity as they were eager for their chance to get an up close and personal look at country music’s newest star, Luke Bryan.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., Jonathan Clarke of NYC’s Classic Rock Station, Q 104.3, took the stage.He announced that everyone in the crowd should feel very lucky because the show was going to be a “live television event”.In that, he meant it was going to be streaming live on iheartradio’s website as well as multiple country music radio station websites across the country.There was even a twitter trend created for the show (#iheartradiolive) that he encouraged fans in the crowd to tweet during the show.
Luke Bryan came out to the stage to a fury of screams from the crowd.He stated “What’s up New York City and iHeartradio? We have a good looking crowd here. This is going to be a lot of fun.If you were calling someone your baby and you’re not anymore, this song is for you.” He opened his show with a former #1 hit, “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.In typical Luke Bryan fashion, he was smiling, dancing, and interacting with the crowd throughout the song.
Luke next took the time to briefly tell the crowd that his new album “Tailgates & Tanlines” was being released at midnight that night and said he was going to do a few songs off the new album.He proclaimed “this is last show that I will do without a new album out. The next song you have to get your ‘boom boom’ on.”Of course, that got a rise out of the crowd and he proceeded to sing a new fan favorite “Drunk On You”.The song is very catchy and is very chorus driven:
“girl you make my speakers go boom boom,
Dancing on the tailgate in the full moon
That kind of thing makes a man go mmm mmm,
You’re looking so good in what’s left of those blue jeans,
Drip of honey on the money make it got to be
The best buzz I’m ever going to find.
Hey I’m a little drunk on you
And high on summertime.”
Luke laughed after the song because the crowd seemingly knew every word to the song although it was yet to be released.In fact, many of the fans had signs decorated with the phrases “boom boom” and “drunk on you”.He said “a lot of you must be watching some youtube or something”.
He then proceeded to introduce another song off of the new album entitled “I Don’t Want This Night To End”.In fact, he stated that he expects this to become the next single released after “Country Girl hopefully goes number one”.In my opinion, if he decides to release this song as a single, he will certainly have yet another number one single on his hands.
The song is very new age country with a phenomenal instrumental sound combined with a fun storyline.Musically, it is very similar to Kenny Chesney’s song “Somewhere With You” in that it is a very soulful sounding song which he switches his notes from mid-tempo to rapid-fire very smoothly. The song is a story about a girl who he apparently just has met and how they are staying up all night driving and dancing in his pickup truck.
I must mention that throughout the performance, the P.C. Richard & Son Theater really helped showcase Luke’s performance.It is a small stage, but had the perfect amount of room for Luke to do his patented “Elvis-type” dance moves that he has become famous for.Further, the intimate style of the venue had every fan from the front row to the back feel like they were getting a private performance.The acoustics in the theater were flawless and I overheard many fans ranting and raving about how much they enjoyed their experience there.
Luke, always the charmer, decreed to the crowd that he wanted to go “honkey-tonking on Broadway tonight.This song will start it.iHeartradio will have some frisky country girls.”He obviously was alluding to his smash hit “Rain Is A Good Thing”.The entire crowd was singing along as Luke sang and danced.The energy of both the band and the crowd were at its peak and Luke immediately took his cue to up the ante once more.
The speakers began to play a hip-hop auto tune (robot voice) of “Country Girl Shake It For Me” and everyone knew what was next.Luke and the band let the auto tune say its phrase a few times and then ripped right into their original country version.Everyone in the New York City crowd was either clapping along with both hands above their head or fist-pumping ala the Jersey Shore cast.Luke put his guitar down, grabbed the microphone, went to the front of the stage and partied along with the crowd to his new mega-hit.
He closed the night out with what he called “a good old fashion cover song”.To the crowd’s pleasant surprise he belted out a great rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s former platinum hit “Play Something Country”.Again he had everyone singing and wailing their arms.As the consonant performer that Luke Bryan is, he had everyone that night smiling and dancing along right back with him.The only question was: did the crowd have more fun or did Luke himself?
Moreover, as an added bonus, Luke announced he would wait outside the door to give an autograph to every single person in the building.Not only does his talent shine through his music and his energy flow through his performances, but he treats his fans with a respect that is unlike any other artist in any genre of music.
I would like to thank countrymusicislove.com to for giving me the opportunity to attend such a private event, as well as iHeart Radio, Vanessa Wojtusiak, and Clear Channel Radio for their astounding hospitality.
The above pictures are courtesy of iHeartRadio / Mark Gong.
Setlist: 1) Someone Else Calling You Baby 2) Drunk On you 3) I Don’t Want This Night To End 4) Rain Is A Good Thing 5) Country Girl (Shake It For Me) 6) Play Something Country (Brooks & Dunn Cover)
ERIC CHURCH Cheif: Deconstructed Album Release Party Bowery Ballroom, New York City July 26, 2011
I had the pleasure of attending the cd release party of country music star: Eric Church. The event was dubbed “Chief: Deconstructed” and was held at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on July 26, 2011. This was the same day that his third studio album was released entitled “Chief”. A bonus for the sold out crowd was that each ticket-holder received a hard copy of the album.
Fans who are familiar with Eric Church’s live shows all know that they are full of adrenaline with chest pounding and boot stomping. This night would be very different. Upon arriving to the intimate venue, the stage had no drum set and no amplifiers; instead, it only had five stools. The title of the show was “Chief: Deconstructed”, so no one had any idea what to expect.
It was very clear once Eric and four other men took to the stage and sat down, each with an acoustic guitar in hand. This would not be the energetic and often hyper Eric Church show, instead it would soon become an intimate look inside Eric Church “the song writer”. The other four men were Ryan Tyndell, Jeff Hyde, Luke Laird, and Casey Beathard. Each of these men not only helped sing the eleven tracks of the new release, but were also Eric’s co-writers for the album.
The show did not follow the exact tracklisting of the album. However, each song off of “Chief” was played. Eric started with Ryan Tyndell as they sang “Keep On” and followed it up by singing the ultra-country “Jack Daniels” with Jeff Hyde. Jeff is not only a co-writer, but also is in Eric’s band. The crowd already knew the words to this song as they sang along during the chorus. Eric has been playing this song during some of his shows over the past year.
In fact, Eric sang each of the songs as a duet with the co-writer who helped him write each of the songs. The only songs he did by himself included the third song of the night, “Creepin'”, and the last, “Country Music Jesus”. “Creepin'” has the potential to be a big radio hit for Eric as it is fast paced and rocks pretty hard.
Luke Laird next sang “Over When Its Over” which is a nice song with a catchy hook. Then Eric introduced Casey Beathard as “my favorite songwriter in Nashville”. In fact, the song Casey sang next, “Like Jesus Does” is the first song Eric has ever recorded that he did not write or co-write. Casey obviously explained that it was quite the honor for that achievement. The crowd began to mysteriously chant “one more year”. Eric caught on and quickly said “oh, is it because he looks like Brett Favre?”. The crowd applauded and Eric laughed hysterically.
“Like Jesus Does” is one of the standouts on the cd. It is so radio friendly it is unbelievable. I personally hope he releases it as a single at some point because I think it would shoot straight to number one.
Eric next stated “we’ve played every place in America. I’ve slept in every enviroment you can think of. I am passionate of my music and right now we are the number one album in America. It means so much to me and it is because of you guys I have this passion and we can do this.” It was a great prelude to his next song “Springsteen”. It is also a catchy tune that happens to be one of my favorites on the new album. It includes Bruce Springsteen song titles cleverly placed throughout the track. As always, you could heard different people in the crowd shout “Bruuuuuuuuuce”.
Next Jeff Hyde sang “I’m Getting Stoned” which is a funny song about a man who found out his ex-girlfriend got married to someone else and he realizes he messed up. The chorus is “she got a rock and I’m getting stoned”.
Then Eric stated that the next song, “Hungover & Hard Up”, was his favorite on the new album. It is a slower song about a man going through some struggles, all the while fighting off a hangover. If this song isn’t pure country, I don’t know what is.
Casey Beathard set up the background for the next song that was sung, “Homeboy”, which happens to be Eric’s new single on country radio. Casey said he got the idea because his son was listening to some bad music on the radio and acting all tough so he said “what’s up homeboy?” He then had that stuck in his mind and called up Eric to write the song. He knew Eric was “the only person who could record the song”. Eric and Casey let the crowd do most of the singing as everyone in the Bowery Ballroom that night seemingly knew the lyrics word for word.
Eric then spotted a sign in the crowd in which a young man was holding up that said “On My Bucket List: Take Shot with Eric Church”. Eric actually brought the young man on stage, poured two shots of Jack Daniels and took it with him. It set up the next song perfectly, “Drink In My Hand”. It is a fun, easy-going song that I am sure will be heard at country music tailgate parties throughout America this summer.
Finally, the last song of the night was “Country Music Jesus”. Eric seemed to struggle with the lyrics and only sang half of the song, but maintained himself well. For true fans of Eric Church, this night was quite special. You did not get the energy of his normal rowdy live shows, nor the smoke and amplifiers. Instead, you got a look inside the real song writer that he is – and got to hear the new tracks and the stories behind why they were written.
As I listened to the studio album on my ride back home that night, it was amazing how different the songs sounded from the acousitc set. Each of the songs were lyrically dynamic enough to sustain an enjoyable acoustic set, yet when the production and instruments were set to the songs, the music sounded that much better. Overall, the album is phenomenal and I would highly recommend country music fans to purchase it. And I will have a greater understanding and connection to the album after seeing the stripped down set that night at the Bowery Ballroom.
1. Keep On 2. Jack Daniels 3. Creepin’ 4. Over When It’s Over 5. Like Jesus Does 6. Springsteeen 7. I’m Getting Stoned 8. Hungover & Hard Up 9. Homeboy 10. Drink In My Hand 11. Country Music Jesus
Rihanna LOUD Tour Izod Center East Rutherford, New Jersey
The Loud Tour was turned up a few levels from its usual decible meter at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 21st, 2011. This wasn’t because Rihanna had another eye-dropping wardrobe change or because she ran through the aisles of the crowd for the third time that night. No,t his was a much bigger “Concert Event” moment.
During the few minutes after the last song of her set “Take a Bow”, fans observed a cop car pull up to the right side of stage in the backstage area. The most observent fans, one of which happened to be my wife, could also hear a faint microphone check. It was a male’s voice who simply made the noise “uh-huh uh-huh”. I did not believe her when she said she heard that as I did not want to set my hopes up. Of course, she was eluding to the fact that she thought Jay-Z was doing a mic check. Much to my suprise, she was indeed correct.
Rihanna came out of her encore to large flames on the giant screens behind her. She sang only the chorus to her song with Eminem “Love the Way You Lie”. She walked a few feet forward, stopped, and froze. All of a sudden, a figure arose from a circular platform underneath the stage. The man stood still, facing down, and was wearing a Yankees hat pulled down low over his eyes. But everyone in the building knew exactly who it was and the place erupted.
Jay-Z is arguably the greatest rapper of all time. I certainly make the argument that he is. No one has had more longevity in the Hip-Hop/Rap Genre. He came out with his first cd back in 1995 has sold approximately 50 million records worldwide, and has eleven #1 records (the most of any artist, in any genre, all time). After arising from the stage and standing still looking down for approximately ten seconds, you could feel that everyone in the IZOD Center that night felt the same appreciation for him, that I have. The applause and screams were deafening. He and Rihanna then put their hands in the air and made the diamond symbol that fans know as the “Roc” symbol. The crowd responded in doing the same.
Jay-Z and Rihanna then performed their mega-hit “Run This Town” together. Rihanna looked to be as big of a fan of Jay-Z’s as everyone else in the building as she was all smiles while running around in admiration of her mentor. Jay-Z’s smooth rapping style and vintage moves were in full effect as they executed the song flawlessly.
Of course, everyone knew that this appearance would not be limited to one song. After all, Rihanna’s first hit “Umbrella” was another song featuring Jay-Z. They broke right into that song after “Run This Town” and everyone sang along with their camera’s flashing and their hands in the symbols of diamonds. Jay-Z quickly exited upon finishing his verse and left Rihanna on stage alone to finish out her song.
Rihanna’s performance pre-Jay-Z was a mixed bag for me. The good: she had a lot of energy, a multitude of extravagant costume changes, and high level production. The bad: she seemed to be lip singing at times and I was confused by the background dancers in various songs (including men dressed as robots who destroyed a car on stage at one point).
Overall, it was an entertaining and fun show. She did not have much interaction with the crowd between songs other than statements such as “What’s up Jersey”, which she said over and over again, and also “Get Your F****ing Hands Up”, which was not necessary since there were so many children in the crowd. She was at her best on her more sensitive and slower songs, when she was dressed in a very impressive yellow gown.
She also ran through the crowd a few times which gave the fans quite the treat. She even stopped at the back end of the floor opposite the stage to bang on a drum at one point. It was a bit cheesy, but no one seemed to mind. For me, that seemed to be the theme of the night (until Jay-Z showed up), it was colorful, fun, and sort of cheesy, yet everyone was having a good time.
But in the end, as much as Rihanna put forth her best efforts, Jay-Z upstaged her. I do not think she minded at all as she owes a lot of her career to him. In the end, it was a great surprise and left everyone in the building more than satisfied. Uh-huh, uh-huh.
1. Only Girl In the World 2. Disturbia 3. Shut Up and Drive 4. Man Down 5. Darling Nikki 6. S&M 7. Let Me 8. Skin 9. Raining Men 10. Hard 11. Breaking Dishes 12. Live Your Life 13. Unfaithful 14. California King Bed 15. Pon de Replay 16. What’s My Name 17. Rude Boy 18. Cheers 19. Don’t Stop The Music 20. Take A Bow
Encore: 21. Love The Way You Lie (chorus only) 22. Run This Town with special guest: Jay-Z 23. Umbrella with special guest: Jay-Z
TIM McGRAW Emotional Traffic Tour with Luke Bryan and The Band Perry Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut 7-24-11
If you are a fan of any genre of music, you have heard of Tim McGraw. He has countless #1 singles, was the most played artist of the decade, and even did a crossover song with Hip-Hop Star Nelly which was accepted by all radio stations. He is in movies, commercials, and even has his own cologne. But for all of those achievements, the thing he does best is perform live.
On July 23rd, 2011, Tim McGraw brought his Emotional Traffic Tour to Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The Tour is named after an upcoming album that he is currently in a legal dispute over with his record label. The supporting acts on this Tour are The Band Perry and a rising star, Luke Bryan.
I was not able to see The Band Perry perform because I was awarded a meet and greet with Luke Bryan. I have met Luke many times over the course of his career. The first time was when he was doing a free acoustic set at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlantic City, NJ back in January of 2008. He has come quite a long way from free sets at restaurants. He now has three number 1 singles on the Billboard Country Charts. He is on his way to a fourth number 1 with “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” which is currently number eight and rising each week.
As always, Luke was incredibly nice and humble. He takes the time to take a picture and give an autograph with each meet and greet pass-holder. Since I have met him seven times now over the past two and a half years, he recognizes me. We spoke a bit about his upcoming headling tour which is the “CMT on Tour 2011”. He said they will be making a stop in New York City which should excite most country fans in that area.
During his set, he utilized the catwalk to perfection. Usually opening acts are hesitant to use the catwalk at all and stick to the main stage. However, Luke is not the ordinary opening act. He came out to “Country Man” and immediately ran all the way down the catwalk which stretched out from the stage all the way to the back of the floor section. He had everyone in the Arena up and dancing the entire time. He ran through hits like “Rain Is A Good Thing”, “Do I”, “We Rode In Trucks” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby”. A highlight was the macho song “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets”. Of course, his newest single (“Country Girl, Shake it For Me”) had everyone shaking and singing along to every word. He ended the set, as he does with every one of his shows, with a remix of his first single “All My Friends” and Metalica’s “Enter The Sandman”. Overall, Luke Bryan’s set was one of the best opening acts I have ever seen and had every bit of energy that a headliner would have.
Tim McGraw would not be outshined this night. When it was time for his set a giant screen was unvieled and the spotlight quickly shined on the other side of the Arena. To everyone’s surprise, McGraw appeared walking down the aisle from that opposite side while singing one of his biggest hits, “Something Like That”.
Tim utilized the catwalk more than any headliner I have every seen. He wasn’t running around like a Kenny Chesney, but had a slow powerful walk that had every woman in the building scream and every guy admire his “swagger”. He sang all of his hits from “Where the Green Grass Grows” to “Last Dollar” to “The Cowboy In Me”. He even threw in some fan favorites like “Do You Want Fries With That” and “Red Ragtop”. Whatever he decided to sing next was met with cheers, screams, and applause.
I have seen Tim McGraw five times now and this was not only the best, but it appeared to be the most fun he ever had. He seemed to give every single person along the catwalk, including myself, a high five. He was constantly smiling, which is unique for the usually serious McGraw. It was good to see him like that since I know he is going through that heated legal battle with his Record Company.
He even surprised the crowd by bringing out The Band Perry for “Can’t Really Be Gone” and Luke Bryan for “Back When”. Luke and Tim seemed like young teenagers having the time of their lives, singing, laughing and even hugging at points.
Tim closed out his set with “Real Good Man”. His encore consisted of “Live Like You Were Dying”, “Indian Outlaw” and “I Like It, I Love It”. Full of energy and bravado, Tim McGraw put forth a memorable performance that shows why he is still certainly one of the Kings of Country Music.
Luke Bryan’s Setlist:
1. Country Man 2. Someone Else Calling You Baby 3. Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets 4. If You Ain’t Here To Party 5. Drunk On You 6. We Rode In Trucks 7. Do I 8. Rain Is A Good Thing 9. Country Girl (Shake It For Me) 10. All My Friends (with “Enter The Sandman”)
Tim McGraw’s Setlist: 1. Something Like That 2. Where The Green Grass Grows 3. Down On The Farm 4. Last Dollar 5. Just To See You Smile 6. Please Remember Me 7. For A Little While 8. Right Back At Ya 9. Red Ragtop 10. Unbroken 11. Sail On 12. Can’t Really Be Gone (with The Band Perry) 13. Back When (with Luke Bryan) 14. Do You Want Fries With That 15. The Cowboy In Me 16. Southern Voice 17. Felt Good On My Lips 18. Real Good Man
19. Live Like You Were Dying 20. Indian Outlaw 21. I Like It, I Love It