This past Saturday night, I headed back to Arlington to feed my latest obsession and attend the weekly Arlington Music Hall Country Music Revue. After my initial induction the week before, I couldn’t wait to see what the revue had in store for us this week.
Even before the show started, I was reminded about what it is that makes this production so unique. As I watched people greeting each other with warm hugs and broad smiles, it reaffirmed for me that this show is about much more than music, it’s about its strong sense of family.
Shortly after taking our seats, the evening’s musical intro began; a red hot rendition of When the Saint Go Marching In, that superbly showcased the band’s collective and individual talents.
As the song ended, I knew, even just after one week of being attendance, there were two things I could count on — the wit and energy of the show’s producer and emcee Michael Hix, and the talent of the evening’s line up. I sat back, settled in, and prepared to be fully entertained. I wasn’t disappointed.
While traditional country ruled the music hall last week, this time around there was an eclectic range of songs being showcased. John Sharp began the night with Toby Keith’s Who’s Your Daddy, followed up by Ginny Lynn who bedazzled us with an uptempo-rock version of Trisha Yearwood’s Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.
As a traditional country music fan, I always enjoy hearing familiar songs that I haven’t heard in a long while. Patsy Andrews, a CMR regular since 1986, took to the stage next with a couple of hit songs that were a little farther back in the music catalog than the previous performers, and she breathed new life into one of my favorites, Billy Jo Spears’ Blanket on the Ground and Patsy Cline’s Life’s Railway to Heaven.
Next up was the show’s multi-talented emcee Michael Hix who joined his lovely wife, Ginny Lynn as she returned to the stage. The two of them conjured up memories of George and Tammy as they sang the Vince Gill/Patty Loveless classic You’re My Kind of Woman, You’re My Kind of Man.
The show took a little genre side trip when Michael and Ginny were finished, as regular Wayne Reed stood in the spotlight and sang Restless Heart’s Wheels and Billy Joel’s hit Just the Way You Are.
Taking the CMR stage for the first time, Cathy Lake’s strong, clear vocals took her effortlessly through Anne Murray’s timeless hit, Snowbird. She was followed on stage by 11 year old Mikayla Griffin who showed much promise, and amazing memorization skills, by tackling the perennial road song I’ve Been Everywhere. It was the young lady’s second visit to the Music Revue and I personally hope there will be more opportunities to hear her in the future.
I found a video of Mikayla’s first Country Music Review performance from October 2011; enjoy.
At the Country Music Revue, everyone gets a chance to shine and it was the stage band’s lead guitar player, Jeff Williams, opportunity that night to stand out front to sing Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make it Through the Night. Jeff had the crowd feeling laid back and mellow for a few minutes, but it wasn’t long before Michael Hix kicked up the energy with James Brown’s I Feel Good. The song showcased Michael’s versatility as a showman, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a person in the crowd without a smile on their face by the time he was done.
Krista Bailey and Mike Stewart rounded out the show’s first half. Krista sang A Little Love Goes a Long, Long Way and Mike followed with a pair of aces, singing Four Walls and Where No One Stands Alone.
After a brief intermission it was time for some more great music, and Michael Hix stopped the show in its tracks with an amazing vocal rendition of Whitney Houston’s classic I Will Always Love You, which of course was originally written by country music superstar Dolly Parton. By the final note, he had the audience on their feet.
The ladies recaptured the stage next with Krista Bailey singing Something More and Ginny Lynn performing Don’t Know Why. They were followed by John Sharp slowing things down with a smooth as glass delivery of The Beatles In My Life.
I got my wish, as young but mighty Mikayla Griffin returned to the stage to sing the Tanya Tucker classic Texas When I Die. Even at this young age, her voice holds much promise, and I’m sure we’re going to be hearing more from this young lady.
Cathy Lake returned to the stage to sing the Cajun influenced, Jo-el Sonnier classic Tear Stained Letter, and another classic Anne Murray tune, Danny’s Song.
The rest of the night’s program had the son of a country music legend performing four original songs. Dion Pride is the son of Charley Pride, and although some may think he’s got some mighty big shoes to fill, he effortlessly stepped out from his father’s shadow and is a fine songwriter and musician in his own right. As Michael Hix said during his introduction “he stands in the shadow of no one.”
Dion is the kind of performer that gives his audience everything he has, and leaves them wanting more. He led his song selection with Feeling Right at Home, followed by the swampy blues rock sounds of No Mississippi. He sat down at the keyboard next, to sing a romantic ballad he dedicated to his wife, titled Ripple in the Water. If swoons could be heard, the sound would have been deafening.
Dion’s last song was prophetically biographical. As he sang Might As Well Be Me, I for one was glad that he was. He could have easily taken the stage and sang covers of songs made famous by his father, but this young man has the confidence and talent to stand on his own two feet. I hope next time we’ll get to hear even more from him.
As it was last week, the three hour show seemed to fly by, and it was time to head back home. The stage lights dimmed as the house lights went up and the crowd filtered out to the lobby to mingle with the evenings performers. The music may have faded out with the last note of the night, but the memories will live on.
Next Saturday night (February 25th) is the revue’s monthly theme night. This time around it will be TV Theme Songs. It promises to be a great night.