The rain may have dampened the attendance numbers for the Arlington Music Hall’s weekly Saturday night Country Music Revue show but it had no impact on the spirit of those who did attend, or the caliber of talent taking front and center on the venue’s historic stage.
Consummate performers entertain as if they are playing to a full house, no matter how many seats are sitting empty, and while the rain may have kept a few folks snuggled up at home, those of us who dared to venture out were rewarded with a great show.
The evening always kicks with a high energy performance, and tonight was no exception as Chris Rodriquez began the night with I Want My Goodbye Back, followed by regulars John Sharp, covering Brooks and Dunn’s My Maria and the lovely Patsy Andrews with Lorrie Morgan’s Out of Your Shoes. Patsy returned later to sing I’ll Be There. Chris Rodriquez wasn’t finished either. He returned in the second half to cover the legendary Freddy Fender hit Before the Next Teardrop Falls, and What’s a Guy Gonna Do?.
Each week a stream of regular musicians and singers, as well as newcomers and repeat guest performers take to the stage, performing hit after hit of memorable songs. Of course it doesn’t just stop there. Each and every week the show packs at least a couple of surprises as artists showcase their talents outside the country music genre. This week Samuel T. Robertson IV was gave us one of those special moments with his soulful performance of When A Man Loves A Woman, and later returned to the stage to switch genres and sing Lonestar’s hit song, Amazed.
The Tuckers, a father, mother and daughter trio from Waco, Texas, showcased their family harmonies on John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Roads. Daughter Holly returned to the stage twice later in the evening, backed by her parents as she sang Don’t Tell Me What to Do (Pam Tillis) and I’m Gonna Love You Through It (Martina McBride).
The CMR’s stage band, The Superpickers, has so much talent, that some of it was bound to spill over and create another generation of talented musicians and singers. The theory proved true as Kandis Moody took the stage and sang her heart out while her daddy, played the keyboard. I’d say she holds much promise, but that would be misleading, since obviously hitting the target full on. Her vocals drew me in and held me through both of her numbers, the mesmerizing But I Will and the fun, tongue in cheek I Love You Honey, originally sung by the great Patsy Cline.
Guest performer Larry Johnson entertained with Gary Allan’s Nothing On But the Radio and a hilarious rendition of Jerry Reed’s The Bird. I’m still smiling as I write this simply from the memories that remain from his performance.
Luke Robinson, a CMR performer since the early age of 10, and now a fine young man with a great traditional country presence, ala George Strait, sang Ray Price’s Heartaches By the Number in the first half of the show. A few segments early Bill Brooks had done a Ray Price medley, but in my opinion there can never be enough Ray Price songs sung in one country music revue show. In the show’s second half he paid homage to George Jones with Choices, and stepped in the realm of the current country music scene by performing Blake Shelton’s Goodbye Time.
Krista Bailey is one busy woman. Not only does she sing backup for most of the night, but she also takes a regular turn front and center. She proved herself worthy of being in both situations with a great cover of Leann Rimes Must Be Tellin’ Me Something but the highlight of the night for her was her duet with Stephanie Pruitt, who also happens to be 1/3 of Krista’s trio group Maiden, Texas. The two of them tackled one of the most challenging duets in country music — the Linda Davis/Reba McEntire hit Does He Love You. It was a showstopper. Stephanie proved her worthiness of commanding center-stage on her own a few songs later with another Reba tune, Sky Full of Angels.
Rounding out the night’s entertainment was the ever popular Mike Stewart singing the Haggard classic I’m a Lonely Fugitive and a Jack Greene standard favorite Statue of a Fool. Last, but certainly not least, I need to mention Wayne Reed who sung Emerson Drive’s Moments that left the audience with something to think about, and had us singing along to Dobie Gray’s Drift Away.
What a great night of entertainment!
AMH CMR Spotlight: Bill Brooks
Bill Brooks’ online biography reads: For nine years Bill was seen in The Promise as “Peter” and Narrator.” During a span of six consecutive years Bill was voted Entertainer of the Year in Texas by the Country Music Revue Association. It was there that Bill taught his signature arrangement of the gospel song, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” to 8-year-old Leann Rimes, which she later recorded on her top selling inspirational CD. Bill has also worked with Bob Hope, Dick Clark, Garth Brooks, Ronnie Milsap, Osmond Family and Barbara Mandrell.
It wasn’t just Leann Rimes who had an early start in the music business, Bill did as well. He told me during the intermission that when he was all of six years old began to perform at shows, occasionally appearing at local events and churches on the same bill as Larry Gatlin and his brothers who were around the same age.
Bill is a irregular, regular of the CMR, making an appearance on stage when he’s in the area and available. He is a seasoned professional and it shows both on and off stage; and I mean that sincerely as a compliment. Each time I’ve seen him perform, the crowd seems to enjoy his performances and last night was no exception as they wholeheartedly applauded his medley of Ray Price tunes and then later, as they rose to their feet as he closed the evening with I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.
The Arlington Music Hall has a stellar list of upcoming shows in addition to their regular Saturday night revues.
Apr 13: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Apr 20: Exile
Apr 27: George Jones
May 11: Country Gold Tour (Leroy Van Dyke, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, Rex Allen Jr.)
For tickets or information visit: Arlington Music Hall website or call 817-274-5700