Thursday night took us back to Knoxville once again to the Tennessee Valley Fair for a show with Trace Adkins. I’ve listened to Trace for years on the radio but this was our first time seeing him in concert.
We had meet and greet passes so we were there about 7:00. We were taken back stage and fair pass holders were put on one side and fan club pass holders on the other so they could go in first. Some older guy, I’m assuming some of Trace’s people, was not very friendly as he told us we would walk in single file say hello, take a picture, say thank you and move on. No autographs. He comes back over and starts saying that we aren’t in a single file line and nobody is going back until we are. Not sure why as we walked through the gate we couldn’t get single file, why it had to be done right then. I understand night after night they do these meet and greets and they probably get tired of seeing people and going over these same rules however, this is our only time to do this and this impression came across badly.
I would say there were probably 100 people in the meet and greet line and he got them through in about 10 minutes. We literally walked up to him he said hello we took the picture and he said “there you go” as he nudged us away from him. After years of doing meet and greets maybe Trace is just “over” them but this was the unfriendliest person we’ve ever had a meet and greet with and it was really disappointing.
While we were doing the meet and greet we could hear Mae Beth Harris on stage. We were really disappointed that we didn’t get to hear her set, as we were looking forward to hearing someone that we hadn’t heard before. When I saw she would be opening tonight I googled her name to find out some things about her. Her hometown is Strawberry Plains, TN. She apparently just graduated from high school in May and moved to Nashville in August to attend Belmont University. She works with the same voice coach that Carrie Underwood has worked with and her band came together and had their first practice in May.
From what we could hear while standing back stage, she sounded great. She was doing Reba’s “Out Like That”. We heard her do Martina’s “Independence Day”. Her and her guitarist did Brad and Carrie’s “Remind Me” and they sounded incredible. Not only did Mae Beth have a great voice but her guitarist does as well. The last song we heard her do before we went inside the building was Toby Keith’s “ Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” kinda surprising for a female artist, but she did a good job, and we saw people in the audience waving little American Flags. (When we got to our seats after meet and greet there were flags laying in all of the lower level chairs). Maybe we will have a chance to hear her again at some point.
His set was really cool looking. Looked like brick buildings with graffiti sprayed on it and the graffiti words were titles of his songs. The middle was the door of the building and when the show started that’s where Trace came out of and walked on stage.
The music for “This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing” was playing. Trace walked out to the front of the stage, took his hat off towards the audience and then went behind the mic to sing. I must say for a 53 year old, Trace still looks pretty damn good!! The crowd stood up when he first came out but as soon as he started singing they all sat down except for me, Ed and maybe 8 other people. What?! Out of 4500 people and we are the only ones standing up. I hate crowds that sit.
Trace didn’t speak through the first three or four songs. He stood mostly behind his mic, singing. Every now and then he’d walk from one side of the stage to the other very slowly. A few songs he did a little hip moving that got some ladies in the crowd screaming. During “Marry for Money” he added in a little riff of “Just a Gigolo”.
He said in 1995 he met with some Nashville record people and one of them ask him if there was a girl in Texas and he told him there were a bunch of them. The record guy told him to write a song about one so that’s how “There’s a Girl in Texas” came about. It was his first single. He said he had taken it out of his set list but had recently put it back in since the song is now 20 years old. He said the words in this song mean more now to him than they did when he wrote it. I didn’t remember this song at all but it sounded really good.
After that song he said since he just did his first single, he’d do his last single which is a tribute to George Jones “Between Jesus and Jones”. I don’t know if this song has already been released or will be released soon, but it was a great song. He also said he should have a new album out the first of next year.
Trace said people have asked him over the years what his biggest achievement of his career has been and he would have to say playing at the Grand Old Opry. He said he liked to do a song at each of his shows from one of the greats and tonight’s would be Don Williams’ “Til the Rivers All Run Dry”. His band all brought mics up to the front alongside his and sang from there. It was a nice cover of this song.
He did a few more of his songs then he and his background vocalist, Marian Grace, did “Everytime You Go Away”. It sounded great. Afterwards, Trace said “Wow, SHE can sing” and he was right. You could hear how good she was just backing Trace but doing this cover with him and having her own solo parts she sounded amazing, and was nice of him to showcase her.
When he started doing “Ladies Love Country Boys” the crowd finally stood up! Trace walked around a little more during this song and he even tucked his t-shirt behind his big belt buckle as he sung the lyrics “ladies love country boys”. Again, the ladies yelled. The crowd stayed standing for “I Left Something Turned on at Home” and his last song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”. He thanked everybody for coming out and he left the stage.
He came back out pretty quickly. He said they had to head to Biloxi after this show for a show there on Friday night. He said they get paid to ride on the buses and they do the show’s for free. His encore song was “Ride” with a little Bob Seger “Roll Me Away” mixed in. Sounded really good.
I’m really glad we got to see Trace after all the years of hearing his songs on the radio. “You’re Gonna Miss This” still made me teary-eyed. However, I don’t think I’d probably go see another show. Obviously, we knew going in that Trace is very traditional country. Even being “traditional” country you can still put on a great, fun show and I just didn’t feel that with this show. Maybe part of it was because the crowd was so boring, not standing up or many singing along….or maybe this is just who Trace is. A man of few words. He just didn’t talk much, didn’t introduce his band, little interaction with the crowd on the front row. It wasn’t much different that just putting his CD in and listening to it.
We saw Charlie Daniel’s at the Tennessee Valley Fair two years ago and were blown away. You don’t get much more traditional than that and he and his band put on a great show, got the crowd into it and we left impressed. Randy Houser, is pretty traditional country, very similar to Trace. We’ve seen Randy several times and always leave his shows happy and feeling like we’ve seen a great show.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like Trace and think he sounds fantastic but just was less than impressed with this show.
Be sure and check out our videos from tonight’s show at www.youtube.com/ourcountryconcerts and come back to our blog site www.ourcountryconcerts.com for more country concert blogs. We will be seeing JT Hodges on Saturday night at the Tennessee Valley Fair.