Sunday, January 21, 2007

The King of Country Music

Yesterday, Marty & I got in the car, drove an hour and 45 minutes to Greensboro, NC and attended a concert with the King of Country Music - Mr. George Strait.

It wasn't my first George Strait concert - Marty and I went to the George Strait Music Fesitval when we lived in Houston. But that was before I actually liked George Strait. Before I really knew his music. All I remember about the festival was that it was at Minute Maid Park (then known as Enron Field) and there were multiple acts before George actually took the stage. I vaguely remember Martina McBride and She-Daisy and by the time George came on, I was ready to go home.

This time was different. This time, I was actually a George Strait fan. I bought the new album right when it came out (after reading a 4-star review in People no less). I listened to it a few times in the car and was instantly hooked on the catchy tunes. I checked George's homepage for tour cities and dates for weeks, waiting patiently for them to be posted. When the dates were finally announced, I was thrilled to see that he was indeed coming to North Carolina. While Charlotte would have been optimal, Greensboro is less than 2 hours away and the concert was on a Saturday. Plus - the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro is really nice...

So we bought tickets and booked the trip.

The truth is, the fact that I spent a Saturday night at a country music concert is not a refelection of moving to North Carolina. I have long been a fan of country music - going back to my childhood and the country mix tapes my dad used to play in the car to and from Woodstock. What reflects the move to North Carolina is the fact that I had to opportunity to actually go to a country music concert. It's not as if Madison Square Garden is a stop on George Strait's tour.

The opening act was newcomer Taylor Swift. She looked like a cross between Jessica Simpson and Chelsea Clinton with a mop of blonde curls and big teeth. She had a decent voice but what impressed me most was the fact that at 17, she had written over 250 songs, including all 11 tracks on her first album, just released in October. The songs weren't sophisticated or complex - they were the songs of a teenage girl. Simple songs written about boys, broken hearts and unrequited love. They reminded me a lot of what I used to write when I was in high school. Still, she was entertaining.

If Taylor Swift was the new girl on the block, then Ronnie Milsap was the old timer. He was billed as a special guest and while I never would have thought he would have had so many fans, the entire Coliseum was cheering and on their feet for the better part of his 50 minute set. What surprised me most was how many of his songs I knew. I guess with 40 number one hits under his belt, I was bound to know a few.

And then there was George. He is known as the King of Country Music with good reason. His voice is as deep and smooth as ever. He looks the part of qunitessential cowboy with starched shirt and jeans and the brim of his hat shading his handsome face. He sings about everything from milk cows to the hard life of rodeo riders.

His set lasted nearly 2 hours and was a mix of his newer material (which I love) and his older songs. Despite having over 50 number one hits to his credit, he did not sing them all. He sang a lot of lesser known songs mixed in with classics like The Fireman and The Chair. In fact, short of hearing him sing Carried Away (my song with Marty) hearing George sing The Chair live was a true highlight.

The whole evening was great. And after we'd had our fill of denim and plaid and cowboy hats, Marty and I went back to the O. Henry and shared a bottle of Far Niente chardonnay and a pizza with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes.

And I know that ain't country...