Friday, August 22, 2008

A Golden Show

Category: Concert Review

The Country Gold tour rolled into the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday August 21. For two hours the very sizable crowd was entertained with country stars and legends.

Leroy Van Dyke was the emcee of the show and apparently the man responsible for putting the package together. "Every song you're gonna hear tonight, you'll know," Van Dyke promised the audience before launching into the biggest hit of his career, "Walk on By." His backing band, the Auctioneers, served as the back-up musicians for the rest of the stars on the bill. He concluded his set with "The Auctioneer," a song he said he wrote about his cousin's desire to become an auctioneer, although Van Dyke himself is a professional auctioneer.

Leroy Van Dyke at the autograph table
following the Country Gold performance

Next on the bill was T.G. Sheppard, who delighted the fans for 20 minutes (the biggest drawback of the package show -- no one was on stage long enough). He performed four of his biggest hits, including the masterful "Last Cheater's Waltz."

T.G. Sheppard signs autographs after the show

Helen Cornelius was the only female on the show, and honestly the biggest disappointment. Instead of doing her sole top 40 hit, "What Cha Doin' After Midnight, Baby," she chose instead to do Don Williams' "Lord, I Hope This Day is Good" and Jessi Colter's "I'm Not Lisa." In spite of ignoring her own solo songs, her voice is still very strong and enjoyable.

Next to take the stage was Jim Ed Brown, without question the highlight of the evening. The should-be Hall of Famer began with a quick rendition of "Lookin' Back to See," his first hit with his sisters from 55 years ago. He also performed "Pop a Top," a favorite with young and old alike (thanks to the recent cover by Alan Jackson).

The single greatest moment of Brown's performance, and of the entire show, was "The Three Bells." Instead of having Cornelius or members of the Auctioneers sing with him, he sang the song solo. The audience sang along on the chorus of the classic 1959 hit. It was positively magical.

Jim Ed Brown chatting and signing at the autograph table

Cornelius joined Brown for three of their duet hits, including "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You," but anything after "The Three Bells" was a letdown.

Following Jim Ed's performance, Van Dyke presented a guitar, autographed by everyone on the show, for auction. Van Dyke led the auction, which raised $3,600 for the Kentucky 4H and FFA organizations.

Steve and Rudy Gatlin took the stage after the auction to perform four songs. Their harmonies were obviously missing brother Larry to fill them out, but the two did very well on "Houston," "Broken Lady," and, with the audience's backing vocals, "All the Gold in California."

Steve Gatlin autographs a CD

The final act on stage was another Country Hall of Fame should-be, Bobby Bare. Again, limited by time, he only performed four songs, but the audience was thrilled with his rendition of "Me and Bobbie McGee" (which he recorded during his short stint on Mercury Records in the late 60s) and "Marie Laveau." "Detroit City" was another show-stopper.

Bobby Bare poses after signing an autograph

According to the Country Gold Tour 2008 web site, the line-up for the shows changes frequently. The people in Louisville were blessed to have such a "golden" line-up of performers, still singing the great country music that brought them to prominence and proving that country music is alive and well.

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