September has always been a favorite time of my and Ed’s concerting because of the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville. We’ve gone before and spent the whole week in a cabin and gone to concerts every night. Always a great country lineup. This year however, for a variety of reasons, we weren’t going to be able to go spend the whole week but when the line up was announced and Sunday night September 10th was Drew Baldridge and Michael Ray I knew we were going to be in the audience for that one.
Sunday was a gorgeous day weatherwise. Highs in the low 70’s. We took the top off the Jeep and hit the backroads to Knoxville. We arrived at the fairgrounds about 6:00. Parking was easy as always, bought our admission tickets and we were in headed to the Homer Hamilton Theatre.
Our friend, Sarah, who we met back in 2011, the first time we went to the fair because she gave me tickets to see Josh Thompson and then from my Twitter picture found me in the crowd, she no longer works at the fair so it seemed really strange not seeing her smiling face. However, another smiling face in the crowd that we’ve met over the years, Cindy, from WIVK was there and she had meet and greets for us! Was a great surprise, we weren’t expecting that.
At 6:30 we got taken back for Drew’s meet and greet. We had met Drew a couple years ago at Brick Street in Oxford, Ohio when he opened for Dylan Scott. Super nice guy then and nothing had changed at the meet and greet on Sunday.
We then went to find our seats. The only annoying part about the meet and greets, they scheduled Michael Ray’s for the same time as Drew was going on stage. I was very unhappy about that and I think they could have figured out a way not to do that, as a lot of people in line to meet Michael weren’t happy about missing over half of Drew’s set. Ed decided to stay out front and watch Drew and try to record his new song, since I was the one the most excited to meet Michael.
At 7:05 they took us back for the meet and greet but Michael didn’t come off the bus and go into the building until 7:20. Aargh!! So we all were trying to listen to Drew from behind the building. From what I could hear he sounded really good. Luckily the meet and greet line went really fast. Michael was super friendly, giving hugs to all the ladies and let me tell you he smelled sooooooo good. He asked how my day was going so far while his photographer took our picture. Really nice guy.
I ran from the meet and greet to my seat to catch as much of Drew’s set as I could. When I got to my seat he was beginning his cover of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” mixed with some “I Like Big Butts” that he and his band really get into and have some nice choreography to go along with it.
Drew and his band not only sound great but they are so fun to watch. They bring so much energy to the stage and it’s easy to see how much they all enjoy performing.
The next song he did was “Rebound”. He said WIVK was the first radio station that played “Rebound” when he first released it. He finished up his set with the fun, energetic “Dance With Ya” that just makes you want to get up and dance with Drew. He has a new song out “Guns & Roses”, which is written about his current girlfriend, that I missed him performing but Ed recorded it so you can take a listen to it here.
About 8:10, 24K Magic started playing and the lights dimmed. Everyone stood up, which they had not done for Drew which sucked. Michael Ray came out to “Another Girl”. Next he did “Run Away With You” which he wrote and Big and Rich recorded. The crowd got into it singing along. “Look Like This” and “Real Men Love Jesus” were next before his current single “Get to You”. “Everything In Between” (which is one of my favorite songs) was next.
He told a little bit about himself that he grew up in Eustis, Florida in a double wide trailer. His parents were divorced. He’d play in little bars around there to 4 or 5 people which he more than likely was related to with his dad on one side of the bar and his mom on the other. He said he had many people who influenced his music so he did a little “Forever and Ever Amen”, “Shoulda Been a Cowboy” “Mama Tried” and then to pay respect to Don Williams who passed away on Friday (the 8th) he did “I Believe in Love” and then for Troy Gentry who country music also lost on Friday he played “My Town”.
As a musical journey he did some songs from some of the artists who has taken him out on tour. “House Party” from Sam Hunt, “Beer Money” from Kip Moore, “Bottoms Up” from Brantley Gilbert and “Wagon Wheel” from Darius Rucker.
I must say Michael Ray has a great voice that can sound good singing anything. He sounded incredible doing the old country and he sounded great doing the new country stuff. Not a lot of artists can cover the whole spectrum but he can.
He finished his set up with “Livin It Up”, “Think a Little Less”, a cover of “Dust on the Bottle” and he left the stage. I knew he’d be back out but apparently everyone else thought it was actually over and a lot of people left. Their loss. He came right back out and of course did his first number 1 single “Kiss You in the Morning.”
Great show at the Tennessee Valley Fair by Drew Baldridge and Michael Ray.