Tonight was opening night for the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn. Everything worked the way it was supposed to. Even Mother Nature ignored the weather forecast –which indicated we were in for a 60 percent chance of thunder storms. We had clear skies, and a great show. Easton Corbin was our headliner tonight. I could probably stop right there, and you would all be saying “Easton Corbin? Wow, we know that one was great!”
Easton and I go way back. It was Oct. 2, 2009, when I first saw him on stage. That was at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, Tenn., just a little while after “A Little More Country Than That” hit radio airwaves. I remember telling you all back then that when you are watching a guy on stage with only a guitar, a microphone, and one accompanist – you discover quickly whether or he can really sing. We found out four years ago that Easton Corbin can really sing. We found out tonight, that he just keeps getting better. [You can read that review of his 10/02/09 Paramount show by clicking here.]
Somewhere in between the Paramount show in 2009 and the Fair tonight, I saw Easton at the Greene County Fair in Greeneville, Tenn. That was on Aug. 11, 2011. I remember being in that audience smiling. Realizing that night that Easton was definitely finding his place in country music – and I just knew he was going to be around for a long time. [Read about the Greene County Fair show here.]
Tonight I was either paying more attention to the songs he was singing, or he did something different. Every song wasn’t his. We heard him do songs made famous by Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, and even Gary Allan. And while you were listening to him sing all those different songs, it wasn’t hard to imagine him actually recording any one of them. Everything Easton Corbin does, he does well.
The first time I met this kid, I told him to never forget who the people are that buy his music and go to his shows. Never forget the ones who take a minute to write a ‘fan letter’, send an e-mail, or put a comment on a web site. It isn’t just the artists starting out who have to remember that there are people out there who like their music, it is the artists who made it to the top who have to remember that, too. The most famous country artists didn’t get there alone, and it is important to always take time for your fans. I’d like to take credit for the fact that Easton seems to remember that. But even if I didn’t have anything to do with it – he to be commended. He does remember, and he does make time for his fans. He had a Meet & Greet before the show; and he had one after the show for fan club members.
Easton is still very good at working his crowd. He sings to his audience. He looks at them, he uses a catwalk (runway), and shakes hands with as many people as he can. He invites his fans to sing along with him (although that invitation probably wasn’t necessary – we were singing, clapping, and some were even jumping up and down).
I like leaving a show knowing I could recommend that performer to anyone looking for a fun night out, and some great country music. If you can’t get to one of Easton’s shows any time soon, I would suggest you get his album, “All Over the Road.” It was released back in September, 2012, and if you don’t have one – it’s definitely not too late to grab one, and enjoy some great Easton Corbin music. I put a review of that album up about a year ago. It was Aug. 25, 2012 – and in that review I said, “I’m thinking the title track “All Over the Road,” just might be Easton’s next single. It’s fast, it’s good, and it’s pretty typically ‘Easton’. It reminds me a lot like some of his other songs, but I think anyone who liked those will like this one. I actually liked it better than “Lovin’ You is Fun.” Easton definitely spends a lot of time on the road, so the song is a good fit.” And that song did become a single for Easton. [You can read that full review by clicking here.]
You can all tell by now that the show was great, Easton is great, and I have no complaints about any of that. However, this is my column, and I have an opinion – one that I’m going to share with all of you. It’s a little on the negative side, but I think it needs to be said. The only problem I had with tonight’s concert is that somewhere during the show, Easton lost control of his fans. He needs to remember that he is the star. It is his show. And he needs to be the one running the show. Let me explain.
People in the reserved seating area paid for their ticket to that show. The bleacher seats were included in gate admission to the fair. The reserved section was occupied by people who paid not only their gate admission, but were willing to pay an added fee to sit down front. I am quite certain that when they paid that extra money, their intention was to SEE the show, not just hear it. I don’t know if Easton realizes this, but only about 15 percent of his reserved seating audience actually got to see the show. The other 85 percent couldn’t see a thing… the reason was the 15 percent who could see were too rude to sit in their seats so the people behind them could watch Easton’s performance.
I’ve been going to concerts for more than 50 years. More than once I have heard an artist ask his (or her) audience to sit down and enjoy the show. Once I heard an artist say that ‘management instructed him to ask the audience to sit for safety reasons.’ My favorite was Trisha Yearwood, who just said, “Would y’all please sit down, you are making me nervous.” However an artist wants to handle a situation like that should be up to them. They are the star. It is their show. Now, while I may be old, I still understand how we want to stand up during a fast number; how we want to walk to the front to snap a picture or two before returning to our seats; how we get excited and caught up in the performance, and we may forget there are small children in the seats behind us who would really like to be able to see.
So there it is – since we get excited, and we jump up and down, and we sometimes stand too long and get in people’s way – I think it is up to the artist to look at his crowd and think to himself, “not everyone can see, I better do something.” I do have to apologize to Easton’s awesome band. I usually get a lot of pictures of the band, that wasn’t possible tonight because people wouldn’t sit down and let me get the shots I needed. But I do want to at least recognize all of them. Great group of entertainers, and I know Easton has to be thrilled to have all of you behind him. Backing Easton we had Seth on bass, David on drums, Brian on acoustic guitar, Loren on electric guitar, Shaun on fiddle, and Drew on steel. Drew is also the band leader. And they were all awesome.
Here are a few more pictures from tonight’s show.
That will do it for tonight. I’ll talk to you all soon! And for those of you coming out to the Fair every night – I’ll see you on Tuesday!