A Word from Cheryl:

Thank you for visiting my Concert Review Blog. I have enjoyed attending, photographing and writing about a variety of concerts over the past several years. I hope that my reviews and photos have made you feel like you were right there with me.

At this time in my life I've taken a step back, looked at what’s truly important and have begun to prioritize my time, energy and resources.

I retired from nursing in 2012 and was then able to be with my aging father, who later passed away in June, 2013.

My family is growing dramatically! We now have eight grandchildren and I take every opportunity to be available to help when needed. I also make sure I carve out plenty of time for my husband so that he knows how important he is to me.

Because of this I don't attend many concerts anymore. I try to be selective in choosing a show and do my best to relax and enjoy the experience. I no longer stress about getting the perfect photo or remembering some occurrence so I can write about it.

If you want to view a collection of some of my favorite photos from the past several years you may find them here:
Cheryl's Pearls Photos - Concerts

Thanks again for visiting my site.

May God Bless,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Brandon Heath Concert in North Carolina


My husband, Phil, and I were driving into the mountains of North Carolina for a week of vacation when Phil noticed a sign that said “Brandon Heath Appearing Here November 1st.”  The location was only about an hour from our destination and we agreed it would be fun to go.  Eventually we went on-line and purchased tickets for the concert which included early admission and a Meet & Greet with Brandon Heath.

On the day of the show we were ushered into a meeting room.  Heath came in and talked to us about his new album, “Blue Mountain.”  He told us he had been looking forward to this particular concert in Mills River, NC because it was so close to Asheville where the album had been recorded.

“Blue Mountain is literally just a place in my imagination,” said Heath.  “It actually comes from a C.S. Lewis quote where he talks about how some people are like mountains – blue and mysterious in the distance but when you get up close to them they’re brown and green, nothing mysterious at all.”
“I thought “if I want to tell a story about Blue Mountain I need to talk about the people who live there.”  So I made up songs about a guy who’s a coal miner, a man who lives on death row, a young couple living on Blue Mountain – all these people are telling the story about who or what Blue Mountain really is.  As I’m telling the story, like so many authors do, I’m really revealing who I am through these characters.”

Heath serenades couple
Heath played us a song called “Paul Brown Petty” from the new album then asked if anyone had a song they would like to hear.  A newlywed couple asked for “Heavenly Day,” one of Heath’s songs used for their first dance at their wedding.  He agreed to sing it provided they got up and danced (which they did).

We then had our photos taken with Brandon Heath, received autographed copies of “Blue Mountain” and went into the auditorium for the concert.

Matt Maher
Micah Bournes
Micah Bournes gave a dramatic reading prior to Matt Maher’s opening act.  Maher performed several of his hits – “Alive Again,” “Hold Us Together,” and “Rise Up,” to name a few.  His popularity with the crowd was evident by the large amount of audience participation singing along with him.

Brandon Heath

Another Micah Bournes reading ushered in Brandon Heath’s performance which included four No. 1 hits: "I'm Not Who I Was," "Wait and See," the 2009 GMA Dove Award-winning Song of the Year, "Give Me Your Eyes," and the eight-week chart topper, "Your Love."

Brandon Heath after intermission
Following a brief intermission with a Food for the Hungry promotion, Heath returned to the stage.  I noticed a costume change had taken place, possibly to help get into character to tell the stories of Blue Mountain.  Heath gave us the background story for many of the songs which made the concert highly entertaining.  Some of my personal favorites include “The Harvester,” “Diamond,” “Jesus In Disguise,” and “He Paid It All.”

Singing back-up for Heath were The Church Sisters, 16 year old twins Sarah & Savannah, who also sang their own bluegrass rendition of The Issacs’ “Heros.”  Heath was later joined by Matt Maher to sing Maher’s “Your Grace Is Enough.”

This was by far one of my favorite concert experiences and I would highly recommend Heath’s new album.  Phil and I came away with hearts uplifted and smiles on our faces.  This was indeed a Blue Mountain adventure!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DC Fest in Fairfax, VA August 18, 2012

  DC FEST 2012

On Saturday, August 18, some friends and I traveled to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA for DC Fest where seven Christian artists and groups performed.  It was an amazing concert full of fun, laughter, praise and worship.
Jason Roy with Building 426

Starting the show was Lindsay McCaul followed by Kerrie Roberts.  These girls had their work cut out for them as they sang without benefit of a backup band while people filed in, talking and laughing throughout the venue.  Neither one had a deep repertoire of hit songs but their voices were beautiful and deserved more attention than they received.

Building 429 was next.  The band’s name is based on Ephesians 4:29 which focuses on words that encourage and build up others.  They certainly got a lot of crowd participation, especially with their world-wide hit “Where I Belong.”  Lead singer, Jason Roy, admitted they were truly humbled and grateful for their current success.

Brandon Heath
Brandon Heath continued the sing-along with his numerous hits – most notable among them was the song that got him noticed on Christian Radio, “Give Me Your Eyes.”  This hit was followed by several more including “Your Love,” and “I’m Not Who I Was.”  He mentioned working on a new CD titled “Blue Mountain” to be released October 9, 2012.  The song “Jesus In Disguise” is from this album and can be heard on the airwaves now.

Matt Hammitt with Sanctus Real
Sanctus Real kept the fun going during their set.  When asked how they got their name they replied "Sanctus" means "Holy" and we really want to hold to that standard, and "Real" means just trying to be real. We are not stars. We don't have an ego, we are not into image, we are just who we are.” And what an enjoyable group they are!  I particularly enjoyed watching guitarist Chris Rohman as he enthusiastically attacked his guitar for several numbers.  They closed their set with “Lead Me” - one of my favorites.
Mac Powell with Third Day
We thought we’d been entertained up to this point but once Third Day took the stage it was apparent the show had just been kicked up a notch.  Their seasoned performance and ability to engage the crowd was delightful.  Lead singer, Mac Powell, took great pleasure in pointing to individuals encouraging them to stand, clap or sing along.  There was a nice ebb and flow to the song selection blending contemporary with praise and worship.  Their performance included “Tunnel,” “Revelation,” “Call My Name,” and “God of Wonders” with the highlight (for me) of the audience wide a cappella singing of “Blessed Assurance”.  Third Day’s next album “Miracle” hits the stores November 6 (Election Day) and we were urged to “vote for Third Day” with our purchase.

Bart Millard with MercyMe
MercyMe proved to be another polished group with a solid performance.  Lead singer, Bart Millard, used this concert platform to encourage the faithful with meaningful lyrics.  He joked that the song “I Can Only Imagine” follows them everywhere and then promptly sang it.  Other songs from the evening include “Beautiful,” “Homesick/Finally Home,” “This Life,” “Move,” “Hurt & The Healer,” “You Are I Am,” and the absolutely beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” sung by one and all.

Article Published in the Star Exponent HERE 

Friday, May 11, 2012

DIERKS BENTLY - Charlottesville, VA May 10, 2012

I've seen Dierks Bentley perform numerous times over the years and, as always, Dierks is certainly the life of the party!  His concerts are so entertaining.

Dierks has a wide variety of songs and his music strikes a chord for a very diverse age group as evidenced by the audience at the Charlottesville Pavilion May 10th.  There was something for young and old alike from the well known hit "What Was I Thinkin?" to patriotic ballads like "Home" to to his latest hit "5-1-5-0," a catchy little tune that tends to stick in your head.

Dierks appears to be most at home when the audience is crowding the stage - something security tried to prevent throughout the evening but eventually gave up, allowing the enthusiastic fans who kept pressing forward a coveted spot in front of the stage.  Several times Dierks knelt and interacted with his fans, reaching out to them, teasing them, and occasionally singing to a smitten female in front of him.
Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band

Opening for Dierks was the Eli Young Band who gave a strong performance.  I overheard some folks in the audience say "These guys are really good!  I didn't know they had so many hits!"  Mike Eli, lead singer and guitarist, was certainly impressive with songs like "Crazy Girl," "Guinevere" and my personal favorite "Even If It Breaks Your Heart."  The Eli Young Band is definitely one to watch.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rodney Atkins at Celebrate Virginia Live in Fredericksburg, VA September 9, 2011

I must confess I was a little leery of attending a concert at the Celebrate Virginia Live venue in Fredericksburg, VA after an August earthquake rocked the area followed by Hurricane Irene with torrential rains that washed away roads and left many in the area without power for days.  But that Friday we saw the first rays of sunshine in over a week so my daughter-in-law and I decided to venture forth.  True, there were some muddy spots where we had to step gingerly but all in all the outdoor venue was in good shape and it was great to get out of the house.

Rodney Atkins appeared to be thrilled to be in Virginia.  He told us to think of ourselves hanging out in his front yard while he played guitar and sang from his front porch.  In fact it actually felt like that’s exactly what we were doing! 

With his humble charm and no-nonsense style he immediately put the audience at ease as he sang his newest release “Farmer’s Daughter.”  He knelt down several times to converse with fans closest to the stage and hand out guitar picks.   He confessed that he’s not worried about conforming to the “norm” which may be why he doesn’t win a lot of awards but he unashamedly puts God, family and friends first in his life (and that ranks him high in MY book).

Atkins continued to perform a number of his hits: “It’s America,” “About The South,” “Friends with Tractors,” and he even covered a few songs to the delight of the crowd – “Good Ol’ Boys” (Waylon Jennings), “Much Too Young (Too Feel This Damn Old)” (Garth Brooks), and “Back on the Road Again,” (Willie Nelson).  It was obvious Atkins and his band mates were enjoying themselves.

Atkins continued to maintain the momentum by saving some of his best songs (in my opinion) for last: “Take a Back Road,” “Cleaning This Gun,” “These Are My People,” and “Watching You.”  Atkins invited the cutest little 5 year old girl on stage to sing along on the chorus of “Watching You” as the audience cheered and applauded her effort.

With the anniversary of 9/11 only two days away, Atkins closed with a fitting tribute to the military by singing “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows).”

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Roots & Boots with Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, & Joe Diffie


The Roots and Boots Concert Tour is all about getting back to the “roots” of country music and, as Aaron Tippin says, restoring camaraderie among musicians which he says there’s too little of these days.  Aaron Tippin is joined by Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie as they tour around the country sharing stories and singing their songs together on stage.

I had the opportunity to see them at the Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock, VA on Thursday, September 1st.   I was curious to see the nature of the crowd.  As expected there were several old timers in attendance but there was a surprising number of young people there as well.  In fact a pre-teen sat behind me and sang along to practically every song.  It just goes to show you that traditional country music is timeless.

There was a lot of lighthearted banter on stage.  Sammy Kershaw was the main perpetrator but Aaron Tippin and Joe Diffie had their fair share.   Between all the jokes and chatter they each took turns singing some of their greatest hits.

After Sammy Kershaw sang his number one hit “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” he laughed about never making it to number one on two other songs because Tracy Lawrence kept edging him out.  I don’t think the crowd cared – they seemed to enjoy singing along to “Cadillac Style,” “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer,” and “Third Rate Romance.” 

As for Joe Diffie, he struck me as a humble and talented musician who thoroughly loves playing music.  With a twinkle in his eye he sang “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox,” Pickup Man,” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “John Deer Green,” and “Home,” to name a few.

Aaron Tipping received a standing ovation for “Where the Stars and Stripes and The Eagles Fly” as he honored the military.  The crowd also enjoyed “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” “Kiss This,” “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong with the Radio,” “Workin Man’s Ph.D.” and “My Blue Angel.”

I wish them the best as they travel the country as ambassadors of traditional country music, courageously sharing the stage and the limelight with fellow artists.  We, the fans, are the true benefactors.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

American Idol Live Tour in Washington, DC August 19, 2011

My husband and I enjoyed being “armchair judges” as we watched Season 10 of American Idol.  We each had our favorites and decided it would be fun to see them perform live when the Tour came to the Verizon Center August 19.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover a new and improved American Idol Tour compared to years past.  Previously contestants would come out to perform in the order they were eliminated so you would have to wait a long time to see your favorite if they were closer to the top.  This time there were more group numbers and duets mixed in plus contestants were utilized as background singers for occasional solo performances.  Of course if your favorite happened to be the winner, Scotty McCreery, you had to wait for the second half of the show before he even set foot on the stage.

Now I’m sure everyone who watched American Idol has an opinion on who’s a better singer or performer and I’m not here to debate that, I’m simply sharing my personal observations.

•    Thia Megia is cute as a button and I was surprised by her poise on stage.  She waved and engaged the younger crowd.
•     Naima Adedapo is a live wire and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her dance as much as listening to her sing.  She appeared very comfortable on stage.
•    Pia Toscano has a beautiful voice and is a lovely girl but she just didn’t seem to connect with the audience.
•    Paul McDonald seemed to enjoy performing in such a big arena and was mildly successful in getting folks to stand and sing.
•    Stefano Langone worked the stage and the crowd but I failed to see the need for him to yank off his shirt just as the lights dimmed.
•    Casey Abrams played his bass fiddle in addition to singing and looked as though he was having a great time engaging the ladies in the front row.
•    To be honest I hadn’t been blown away by Jacob Lusk but on stage he sang with utter abandon and pure enjoyment.  He was truly fun to watch.
•    It took a while for us to locate James Durbin because he entered from the rear of the Verizon Center and made his way through the crowd and onto the stage for his set.  He was energetic, enthusiastic and hit some pretty amazing notes.
•    Haley Reinhart was sultry and saucy and I was a bit surprised by the lack of participation when she invited the audience to sing along on “Benny and the Jets.”  It begs the question: are folks are still put out by the fact that James was eliminated before Haley?
•    I’m sorry those who had tickets for the Baltimore show didn’t get a chance to hear Lauren Alaina due  to her vocal problems but she was in full voice in D.C.  I only noticed an occasional rasp when she spoke.  Her performance was solid and I have a feeling once the tour is over and she is completely rested she will be even better.
•    After a tremendous build up and introduction, Scotty McCreery finally took the stage.  He was relaxed, comfortable and thankfully no longer held the microphone like a flute.  Scotty was definitely the crowd favorite and he acknowledged this with several handshakes, waves and nods.

For more photos see: American Idol Live Tour Photos by C Walker

1.     The Girls – “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
2.      Pia Toscano – Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys & Jay z
3.      Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone – “California King Bed” by Rihanna
4.     Paul McDonald – Maggie May by Rod Stewart
5.     Thia Megia – “Who Says” by Selena Gomez
6.     Pia, Thia, Haley & Naima – “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae
7.     Stefano Langone – “Grenade” by Bruno Mars
8.     Stefano Langone and the Girls doing “DJ Got Us Falling In Love.” by Usher
9.     Guys w/o Scotty- “Animal” by Neon Trees
10.    Naima Adedapo – “On The Floor” by Jennifer Lopez
11.    Pia Toscano – New Single! “This Time”
12.    Lauren, Pia and Thia – “Firework”
13.    Casey Abrams – “Smooth” by Rob Thomas and Santana
14.    Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart – Moanin
15.    Casey Abrams – Harder to Breath by Maroon 5
16.    Group Number – “Forget You” – Minus Scotty
17.    Lauren Alaina – “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood
18.    Lauren Alaina – “Like My Mother Does” New Single!
19.    Lauren, Haley, Thia, and Stefano – “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
20.    James Durbin – “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns and Roses
21.    James Durbin – “Uprising” by Muse
22.    Jacob Lusk – “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross
23.    Jacob Lusk with Pia, Naima and Stefano – “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell
24.    Haley Reinhart – “House of the Rising Sun”
25.    Haley Reinhart – “Bennie and the Jets”
26.    Scotty McCreery – “Your Man” by Josh Turner
27.    Scotty McCreery – “Are You Going to Kiss Me Or Not” by Thompson Square
28.    Scotty McCreery – “I Love You This Big” New single!
29.    Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina – “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krause
30.    Scotty McCreery with Lauren, Thia, Pia and Haley – “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry
    Entire Group: Medley James & Lauren – “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, Paul, Haley & Casey join with “Faithfully” by Journey, Stefano & Naima Adedapo join with “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith, Thia & Jacob join and everyone

Published in the Star Exponent: see article here

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tim McGraw's Concert August 13, 2011


Tim McGraw’s Emotional Traffic Tour came to a close in Bristow, VA on August 13, 2011 and it was full of surprises.

 Opening act The Band Perry is a delightfully energetic, entertaining group of siblings who have honed their craft to perfection.  As they sang “If I Die Young” the air was filled with voices singing along with The Band Perry bringing a smile to their faces.  They thanked Tim McGraw for the opportunity and experience of opening his show and are poised for headlining a tour of their own this fall in addition to opening for Reba and Keith Urban.

Luke Bryan brought levity and laughter to the stage as he sang and danced his way through “Country Man” and “Rain Is A Good Thing” but it was the song “Country Girl Shake It For Me” that really stirred things up.  Bryan was “pranked” by male tour mates who paraded around in short-shorts and tiny pink shirts that exposed bare midriffs causing Bryan to fall on the stage laughing uncontrollably.  The stunt left him momentarily speechless.  Bryan eventually gathered himself enough to finish the song to a roar of applause from the audience.

As the lights dimmed the crowd was caught off guard to find Tim McGraw in the back of the pavilion to open the show singing “Something Like That.”  He continued with “Where the Green Grass Grows” and finally began to make his way down to the front while singing “Down on the Farm” shaking hands all along the way.  When he finally reached the main stage to perform “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” a young fan was lifted onto the stage to join him and sing along.

Throughout the evening McGraw walked back & forth, and up & down along the catwalk slapping hands raised high, signing posters and connecting with fans almost to the detraction of his songs.  I’m sure those fans who captured his attention would disagree with me.

First The Band Perry and later Luke Bryan returned to sing selections with McGraw.  It was Bryan’s humorous serenade using a version of Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” that made it difficult for McGraw to transition to a more serious performance of “Better Than I Used To Be.”  After three false starts the band and McGraw finally settled into the song.

It was obvious that the artists were having fun with each other, especially since this was their final performance on tour together.  As audience members it felt a bit special to be witnesses to the jokes, pranks and camaraderie that often occur among tour mates.  It was definitely a one-of-a-kind night.