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,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sugarland, Little Big Town, and Jake Owen in Charlotesville, VA December 8, 2007


“You must be a Little Big Town Fan,” she said as I arrived at Panera Bread in Charlottesville to meet my friends before the Sugarland, Little Big Town, Jake Owen concert at John Paul Jones Arena.  How did she guess?  Was it because we were talking non-stop and laughing uncontrollably, so excited about being together again and headed to one of our most anticipated concerts of the season?  I have a feeling we stood out among the crowd in that little cafĂ©.  At any rate she went on to say she was with Little Big Town and wanted to do a video interview for CMT about what it means to be “with the band,” – since their latest release, “I’m With The Band” is about that very thing.

She went to the back corner to set up, we finished our dinner and joined her.  We sat around chatting casually about when we first saw Little Big Town, how we met them, and our impressions of them as individuals.  “You know, when you find a group of young people as sincere and nice as Little Big Town, whose voices blend with such great harmonies, whose music is so good -  you just want to support and promote them, and bring as many people as you can to their shows.  That’s what it means to me to be “with the band.”” I said.  The others nodded in agreement.  We wrapped things up, snapped a few photos and headed off to the arena.

Being blessed with the privilege of having two “Meet and Greets,” I decided to have a little fun with my photo-op.  Since it was close to the holidays I had picked up some Santa hats and reindeer antlers.  My mission was to get past security with all that paraphernalia.   I need not have worried.  After scanning our tickets they asked what all that stuff was for and shined their flashlight down in the bag.  After being satisfied there was no threatening item in the bottom we were ushered on into the arena.  Whew!

Jake Owen was first.  He arrived to greet us in sweat pants and a baseball cap saying he had just gotten out of the shower and to please excuse his appearance.   Good grief, some people can wear anything and still look good!!  Having met him before I knew he was a good sport so I said, “O.K. Jake, here’s the deal, I have two reindeer antlers, one for you and one for me.  I think it will fit over your baseball cap just fine.”  He laughed, popped it on top of his head and said, “Well alright then!”  What fun!  I got a great photo.  His road manager tried to sneak one of the antlers away from me but I needed it for Little Big Town’s meet and greet which was next.  He reluctantly gave it back.

On to Little Big Town…  “O.K. guys,” I said when my turn came.  “I have something for you to wear to make our photo a little more festive.”  Out came the Santa hats and reindeer antlers.  Phillip Sweet grinned and put on a hat.  The photographer said, “Uh-oh, the girls spent a lot of time on their hair, don’t mess it up!”  “I thought of that,” I replied, “The antlers are on a head band and shouldn’t be a problem.”  Kimberly Roads Schlapman and Karen Fairchild each took a set of antlers when Jimi Westbrook, Karen’s husband, complained that HE wanted to wear the antlers – go figure!  Karen quickly said, “O.K. honey, I’ll wear the hat.” And everyone was satisfied. 

“I want you to know we’re doing this only because it’s you,” Karen told me grinning.  “And I don’t want to find these pictures posted all over the internet,” she said laughing along with everyone watching.

Mission accomplished!   I packed up and headed into the Arena for the concert.  Jake Owen was already into his performance and the crowd was singing and dancing right along with him.  He commented that this was the best (and loudest) crowd on the tour so far.  He sang a new song he recently wrote, “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” which is one of my favorites.  At the end of his set he brought a young boy on stage to sing the song “Yee Haw” with him.  It was absolutely adorable!

Little Big Town opened with “I’m With The Band” and went on to sing several crowd pleasing numbers such as “A Little More You,” “Lookin’ For A Reason,” “Good As Gone,” plus a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” that had everyone singing along. “Novocaine,” a song from their latest album “A Place To Land” is fast becoming a favorite of mine.  “Evangeline,” from the same album, is a powerful ballad against abuse and received a positive response at John Paul Jones.  By the time Little Big Town got to their signature song, “Boondocks,” no one was left in their seat.  The walls reverberated with “I was born and raised in the boondocks,” as everyone clapped and sang at the top of their lungs.  You could tell by the smiles on their faces that Little Big Town loved playing in Charlottesville, VA.

With opening acts like that, excitement was at a fever pitch for Sugarland to take the stage and take it they did.  Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush were all over the place entertaining and singing their hearts out.  Jennifer is a master at facial and body expressions.  What a darling stage presence she has with that southern drawl and charming demeanor.  Kristian Bush is the perfect match for her to draw energy from and flirt with on stage.  Sugarland’s band showcases their talent on select numbers.  I especially enjoyed the Beyonce cover of “Irreplaceable” done country style and “One Blue Sky,” when Jennifer played harmonica.  Other songs performed were “Speed of Life,” “County Line,” “Want To,” “Settlin’,” “These Are The Days,” “Happy Ending,” “Just Might Make Me Believe,” “Down In Mississippi (and Up to No Good),” “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” “Everyday America,” “Baby Girl,” and “Something More.”

For the encore Jennifer sang her classic “Stay” with conviction and power.  To round out the evening Little Big Town and Jake Owen returned to join Sugarland in singing a medley of covers.  First was The Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town” followed by Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”  I must say I was on sensory overload by then because all of the artists on stage were having so much fun I couldn’t decide which one to watch or photograph.  What a phenomenal concert.  It’s one I won’t soon forget.  I’m so glad I got to share it with friends and family.

When I got home I noticed I was missing a set of antlers.  Jimi, if you liked them that much, all you had to do was ask.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Garth Brooks in Kansas City, November 2007

My Garth Brooks Adventure

It all started with a visit to my sister, Darlene, in Georgia.  “Guess where I’m going.” she said. “I have no idea,” I replied.  “To Kansas City!” she exclaimed.  I stared at her with a blank look on my face.  “You know who’s performing in Kansas City don’t you?” she asked.  The light slowly dawned.  “Oh – My – Gosh!  I can’t believe you’re going to see Garth Brooks!!”  “Yep” she grinned. “Sharon and I are celebrating our birthdays with a girl’s weekend adventure.  Wanna come?”  My mind started racing.  Garth Brooks!  I’d always wanted to see him but he retired before I ever got the chance and now he’s getting back out on stage for nine shows only and here’s my chance!  I glanced at my husband for some indication about the situation.  He was grinning at me, knowing that there’s no stopping us when the words “girl’s weekend”, “adventure” and country music are involved.

We  rushed to the computer to check out the availability of tickets.  I was able to find a seat two sections over from Darlene and Sharon at a reasonable price.  Next I checked on flights from Dulles to Kansas City.  Ouch!  That’s gonna pinch the budget a bit.  No matter – this was going to be the chance of a lifetime and we were giggling like school girls anticipating our Garth Brooks adventure.

I left town Friday before Saturday’s concert and arrived at Kansas City International Airport two hours before Darlene and Sharon.  Uh-oh.  She didn’t tell me what airline she was flying and there were three different terminals.  That’s o.k. – I just plopped down in a seat to await her phone call and listened to Garth’s new CD “The Ultimate Hits”.  After all, I didn’t want to be tagged as the “newbie”  I truly was to country music with all those faithful Garth fans at his concert and I wanted to be able to sing along with the best of them.

Darlene and Sharon finally arrived from Atlanta and called me.  I had to scurry over to Terminal B (which required some maneuvering since I was in Terminal A and the terminals aren’t connected).  Once I got there we hopped in our rental car complete with a GPS system and the “Girl’s Weekend” began.

Saturday morning after breakfast we went shopping at Zona Rosa, a local landmark.  We spent time laughing a trying on plenty of clothes.  Of course it’s a bit discouraging to shop with a sister who’s recently lost weight and who looks fabulous in anything she tries on while you’re battling those pesky 10 pounds that won’t go away.  Oh well, I did buy some new boots and they look fantastic!  We completed our outing with dinner at Bravo’s – Lobster Bisque was the specialty and it was delicious!!  Then we went back to the hotel to prepare for the concert…

Outside the Sprint Center everyone was in high spirits laughing and breaking out in song with the Garth Brooks songs playing from a bar across the street.  I was able to join in thanks to my preparation beforehand.  My sister had even printed the words to the mysterious third verse of “Friends in Low Places” – we were ready!!

Inside we parted ways and I found my seat – oh joy, I was seated on the aisle with a clear view of the stage!  I just had to beware of people passing by sloshing their beer in my direction.  My seatmate was from Oklahoma across the line from Topeka, Kansas and he told me he sees Garth around town all the time, in fact his daughter is on the same soccer team as Garth’s daughter – fancy that!  He told me Garth flew home every night during the week to see the girls off to school in the morning but his daughters were going to be in Kansas tonight to see their Dad in concert.  How sweet!!

The lights began to dim and the show began.  Trisha Yearwood opened the concert and gave a wonderful performance singing her new song, “Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love” along with familiar songs like, “XXX’s & OOO’s (An American Girl)”, “She’s in Love with the Boy” and one I wasn’t so familiar with, “The Wrong Side of Memphis.”   Her voice was smooth and strong and she moved around a lot making sure she included the folks sitting behind the stage.

After Trisha you could almost feel the excitement mounting in the crowd.  The “Wave” went around the Center several times and spontaneous chants broke out in various sections for “Garth – Garth – Garth”.   At 9:10 p.m. the lights went down and the spotlight came up on the center stage.  A piano came up through the floor with Garth at the keyboard, the fiddle player, Jimmy Mattingly, who also plays with The Grascals, emerged through the center of the piano and began the opening number “The Fever”, and the crowd roared its approval.  For 2+ hours, singing 25 songs, Garth Brooks had us hanging on every note.  He is a true master of entertainment.  Even when he makes mistakes he’s endearing!

It happened during the song “Shameless”.  Someone tossed a bra onstage.  He began to get flustered and left out an entire verse and blamed it on the bra.  He reared back and exclaimed, “I’m shameless!”  The crowd hooted with laughter.

He toyed with us as well by raising his arms to get us to yell, first one side, then the other like a competition.  After a little of that he began to glance our way and we still did it.  He said, “You mean all I have to do is look at you and you do that?” And we responded whenever he ducked his chin and looked up.  Then he chuckled and said, “Ahhh, the power I have!”It’s amazing to me how a man can be so accomplished in his career and yet come across on stage as one so humble and grateful for what he has received and be so appreciative of his fans.   I’m extremely glad I had the opportunity to experience Garth Brooks in concert.  True, it may not have been during the height of his career but he’s still got what it takes to win fans, both young and old.

We didn’t want our adventure to end but end it did.  Darlene, Sharon and I parted ways at the airport on Sunday morning.  As I was boarding the plane I heard a voice behind me, “Are you from Culpeper?”  Lo and behold I met Anne Richardson and her brother, Worth who writes for the Star Exponent.  Both of them had been in Kansas City the night before to see Garth.  Anne and I ended up sitting next to each other on the plane to swap stories and share photos (thank you Worth!).   What a nice ending to my “Garth Adventure.”  It’s one I won’t soon forget.

  • The Fever
  • Good Ride Cowboy
  • Rodeo
  • Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
  • Shameless
  • The Thunder Rolls
  • We Shall Be Free
  • Unanswered Prayers
  • To Make You Feel My Love
  • The River
  • Callin’ Baton Rouge
  • The Beaches of Cheyenne
  • Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
  • Papa Loves Mama
  • Two Pina Coladas
  • More Than a Memory
  • Friends in Low Places
  • The Dance

  • Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
  • When You Come Back to Me Again
  • That Summer
  • Longneck Bottle
  • American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
Published in the STAR EXPONENT  November 23, 2007