Country Twang rings True Up at the Trop
It was back in 1997 when I moved to the Florida Panhandle up within spitting distance of the Alabama border that I got to have my first huge meal of Country music and began to savor as a symbolic method of expression of my Southern heritage. I had been that rock guy who moved to this region of the state sometimes known as the “Redneck Riviera” and expreienced firsthand the music and the lifestyle usually shown only on videos. Some people call it “simple music”, but I consider it the purest form of musical expression we have in our American culture. Sure we developed and introduced the world to rock and roll, but Country brought rock its soul way before
Elvis used his pelvis to swoon the Nation.
And maybe I was either lucky or just the timing was right as Country music then was transforming itself towards certain rock and roll roots and left some of its traditional sights and sounds to embark in another direction. It was the sunrise of artists like Garth Brooks, Lonestar and Clint Black that gave me my Country foundation, and I ate it up like a slab of pork ribs kissed by the essence of tasty rubs and smoke. I had begun a musical transition that stays with me even today. But when I got my first nibble of Country at the Billy Bowlegs Festival in Destin, Florida, it had me hook,line and sinker from that moment.
And Dierks Bentley has been high on my list of budding Country artists every since his debut album, and the hit “What Was I Thinking” hit the Country Billboard charts. But Bentley is also one of those artists that can transcend the usual “Country” streotypes and provides a show that is high energy and also riddled with greats songs and musical influences from Bluegrass to bona fide old Country licks like the twang of the steel guitar and high notes of the banjo. Bentley is one of the new genratioin of Country artists that embraced the move towards the mainstream, but also remembers his roots with passion and enthusiasm. Bentley definitely took the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series to a new high level of grand old music that makes the hips sway.
But I got to tell you, he showed us some of his new stuff off his recent “Up on the Ridge” album release, which has more sounds based within the guidelines of Bluegrass than your usual Country, and I am going to my local store today to buy that CD, because it was an amazing slice of Tennesse-based Americana, and I am hungry to hear more of it. Not sure why, but I like to hear the banjo and ther steel guitar struming loud and proud from the stage. And mixed with the charisma and musical charms of Bentley on Saturday night, it almost became intoxicating to my senses. To say I had a great time would be taking something great from the experience. It was that proverbial “blast of the past” for me, and we all know how the Renegade loves nostalgia.
And as usual for me, I went totally bananas taking over 500+ photos of the concert thyen spent the last two days in my moment away from the Trop trying to figure out which one were worthy and which needed to be trashed. So I popped in Bentley’s first self titled album “Dierks Bentley” and began the hard task of trying to bring the best to the surface, but the music kept interrupting the flow as I began to sing along with some of the great sounds parading from the computer speakers. It had in me in sucxh a lather I had to click on my ITunes desktop icon and download a few more traks to add to the musical mix of selecting photos for this blog entry.
I began to again live the performances in my mind as a deleted and edited photo after photo while listening to the energy of “Feel that Fire” or the slow beats of “Settle for a Slowdown.” With every beat coming from that stereo system I was again loving stands inb the crowd at Tropicana Field enjoying Bentley’s music bouncing off the white fabric and making it way down to my ears. It was surely one of the best concerts of this season, and maybe in the Top 5 of the always evolving Rays Concert series. And with banter and charm of Bentley made the crowd intense and totally in the moment with him as he went from song to song with great transitions and amazing vocals.
This was definitely another Rays Concert event that made me glad the Rays have instituted these concerts into their Saturday night lineup and has be already excited and anxious for Barenaked Ladies. The band people, not the club. But in all seriousness, tonight’s concert was the best Country offering by the Rays since Trace Adkins ushered in the first musical Country night two years ago. Doesn’t seem like that long ago, but the music and the Rays games have seemed to flow togewther in perfect harmony and rhythm since their inception.