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, February 29, 2008

George Strait in Richmond, VA - February 28, 2008


She was standing in front of us in the concession line at the Richmond Coliseum holding an armful of George Strait T-shirts.  My friend and I were discussing if we’d be able to see the stage from our seats when she whirled around with a big grin on her face and exclaimed, “There’s NO bad seat at a George Strait Concert!  The stage is set up right in the middle so everyone can see!”   I asked where her seat was located.  She replied that she had gotten a floor seat through George’s Fan Club and had driven all the way from Illinois.  She laughed when she saw the look of surprise on my face.  She continued to shock me by saying this was her 51st George Strait concert.  Wow!  This was definitely a devoted fan!  She’s been to see him as many times as he’s had number one hits  (50) and was about to see him one more time.

We took our seats and I scanned the crowd – young and old, families and couples, many decked out in cowboy hats, jeans and boots to see “King George” and his Ace in the Hole band.   You could feel the excitement mounting.

The first to take the stage was Sarah Johns, an up and comer from Nashville who got her start singing in church and was encouraged to head to Nashville to pursue her dreams.   She did a nice cover of Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You” as well as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishing in the Dark.”   She introduced her new single “He Hates Me” from her debut CD – “Big Love in a Small Town.”

Next up was a familiar favorite of mine – Little Big Town.  They are a very energetic group who moves and works the entire stage, always involving the crowd.  I was a bit surprised by the somewhat subdued audience response.  There were scattered groups here and there (myself included) who were on their feet singing and dancing along but for the most part folks stayed in their seats, even people in the floor section, which is known for being “a happening place.”   I thought to myself, “Uh oh… this is a tough crowd.”  From what I could tell, it didn’t seem to dampen Little Big Town’s enthusiasm or performance.  They opened with “I’m With The Band” and went on to sing a mix of their hits “A Little More You,” “Good As Gone,”  “Bring It On Home” with fresh songs  “Fine Line” and “Novocain” from their new CD “A Place To Land.”   Their rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” seemed to be a crowd pleaser.  Richmond Coliseum came alive when the song “Boondocks” was played.  By the time they were done Little Big Town had won some fans as I heard people around me saying, “That was awesome!”  “They were great!”

There was an intermission between performers and I had an opportunity to meet briefly with Little Big Town and say “Hello.”  They are such a gracious group of young people and very excited to be touring with the great George Strait, reaching (and hopefully winning) new fans.   I was able to give them a copy of the December issue of Culpeper Star Exponent’s In and Around that had their photos in it.  They got a kick out of the Reindeer Antler photo and teased me about how I said it wouldn’t be published anywhere.

I headed back into the Coliseum where George was already on stage singing.  The stage is set up “in the round” - a microphone is placed in all four corners and George moves to each one in turn singing two songs at each mic.  I watched in amazement as George Strait moved from corner to corner, playing his guitar and singing.  He didn’t have to do anything else.   The fans on the floor and in the stands were on their feet, singing, cheering, clapping and snapping photos.  Was this the same crowd?  Obviously a man who has 50 number one chart topping hits has a dedicated fan base and they were here in full force tonight.

George sang such hits as: “Ocean Front Property,” “I Hate Everything,” “Run,” “Check Yes or No,” “She’ll Leave You  With a Smile,” “I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore,” “Cowboys Like Us,” “Amarillo By Morning,” “Seashores of Old Mexico,” “Write This Down,” “Give It Away,” “It Just Comes Natural,” “I Just Want To Dance With You.”

As the music started for the song “Texas” he apologized, knowing he was in Redskin territory.  A video played showing scenes of Texas as he sang.  After he finished he said, “Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” and the crowd laughed good-naturedly.  Of course they loved it.  While he sang, “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” a camera sought out various cowgirls in the audience to the cheers of fans.   When George sang his newest single, “I Saw God Today,” a song about seeing the power of God in the life of a newborn child, you could tell from the crowd’s reaction that this could very well be another number one hit for “King George.”

George Strait is traditional country in his plaid shirt, crisply pressed jeans, boots and cowboy hat.  He has a knack for finding songs that connect with his fans and are fun to sing.  With a simple humbleness he stands on stage with guitar in hand, serenades his fans and is met with love and devotion.   Yes indeed, George Strait won the heart of Richmond.

Published in the Star Exponent 3/21/08 - Strait to the Heart of Richmond

Friday, February 1, 2008

Phil Vassar at The Birchmere - January 31, 2008


I was really looking forward to seeing Phil Vassar perform at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.    It was billed as an acoustic show with Phil, his piano and a guitarist.  That’s it.   I was wondering how he was going to keep the energy going but I needn’t have worried.  I came away amazed, not only by his talent but by the man’s natural ability to entertain.

The Birchmere is a prestigious music hall located in Alexandria, VA where artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, k.d. Lang are among the many who have performed there.   In music circles the reputation of The Birchmere is legendary and for this reason Phil Vassar was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Opening for Phil was a talented young singer /song writer named Jennifer Hanson whose father happened to play and tour with the group “Alabama” for 18 years.  He was there that night supporting his daughter, cheering from the back of the room.  Jennifer played guitar and sang “Beautiful Goodbye” and “73”.  She performed two other songs she wrote which became hits for other artists – “A Different World” for Bucky Covington and “Leave the Pieces” for The Wreckers.

Phil took the stage with casual familiarity, shaking hands with folks in the front, thanking everyone for coming.  He said he’d wanted to play at The Birchmere for a long time and was glad to finally be there.   He started the evening playing and singing “Black and Whites” then invited his guitarist, Jeff Smith, to join him on stage.    There was an easy camaraderie between Phil and Jeff born from years of playing and touring together.   The verbal jabs and laughter flowed freely.

Sprinkled among the many jokes and funny reasons to buy Phil’s “Greatest Hit’s” CD were a few tidbits about the various songs Phil has written.  “Carlene” is a song about Cindy Crawford; “My Next Thirty Years” was written on his birthday; “An American Child” was written for his daughter, Haley; he wrote “Six-Pack Summer” on a boat in Tennessee; and “Last Day of My Life” was written after the loss of a good friend.

Jeff Smith gave an exceptional solo performance of Sting & The Police’s “Roxanne” while Phil took a brief break from performing a total of 17 songs for the evening (see set list).

Phil interacted with the audience easily and often, taking requests and accepting a drink now and then.   Phil hails from Lynchburg, VA and attended James Madison University so he’s a “local boy” and it wasn’t long before it became apparent there were some very special folks in the crowd.  He acknowledged his college buddies, family members and most importantly, his mom.  Twice he apologized to her for a slightly off color remark.  It was endearing to see his sensitivity to her presence in the room and his delight at having her there for his performance.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of Phil’s fraternity brothers before the show and I asked him if he had any stories to share about Phil.  He thought for a minute and said, “You know, we were all busy getting our degrees and getting married but Phil was single minded.  He always said he was going to Nashville and we teased him about it.  But you know what?  He did it!  Here I am paying good money to see him sing his songs.  He was focused and I really admire him for accomplishing what he set out to do.  And what’s great is he’s still the same, approachable Phil.  He doesn’t put on any airs and I love that about him.” 

I think everyone came away from his performance “loving that about him”.  Phil made all of us feel like old friends.  It was indeed my pleasure to spend an evening with Phil Vassar.

Phil Vassar’s Set List:
•    Black and Whites
•    In A Real Love
•    Carlene
•    Love Is A Beautiful Thing
•    My Next Thirty Years
•    Little Red Rodeo
•    An American Child
•    Six-Pack Summer w/ Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer)
•    Bye Bye
•    Last Day of My Life
•    Just Another Day In Paradise
•    Rose Bouquet
•    I’m Alright
•    Roxanne  (by Sting & The Police, performed by Jeff Smith)
•    I’ll Take That As A Yes
•    Summer Loving (from the musical Grease)
•    Joe & Rosalita
•    Piano Man (by Billy Joel)