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,

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Martina McBride in Bristow, VA - September 27, 2008

Martina McBride was the perfect choice to close out the concert season for Nissan Pavilion September 27th.  Even with heavy downpours of rain there were committed fans that cheered and sang and stayed to the very end.  They were rewarded for their faithfulness.  Prior to the show fans were videotaped writing their hopes and dreams on a white board and it was shown on the big screen as Martina sang her recent single, “For These Times.”  Cheers erupted for various comments written, causing Martina to turn as she sang to see what was on the video screen.

Martina has a delightful stage presence.  You know how folks will gather in front of a stage to get their picture “with the artist” while they’re singing?  I watched this happen several times but once when a young lady posed in front of Martina for a photo-op Martina leaned down, held up two fingers over the girl’s head and gave her “rabbit ears” for the photo.  The girl was oblivious to what was going on behind her.  It was priceless!

Before the concert started a young Marine approached our section and asked for a marker so Martina could sign his cap.  I happened to have one in my purse and gave it to him thinking he wouldn’t possibly have the chance to get it signed nor would I probably ever see that marker again.  I was wrong on both counts.  Mid-way through the concert between songs security allowed him to approach the stage.  He asked Martina to sign his cap and she said, “I can’t sign this,” to which he replied, “It would be my honor to have your name on it.”  Martina signed his cap, handed it back to him and said, “Thank you very much!”  His name?  USMC Staff Sergeant Jonny Nobel.

Martina McBride has to be the most gracious artist I’ve seen in recent months.  As she neared the end of her set she commented that she’s been singing for many years and she deeply appreciates the fact that people still come out to hear her.  She truly loves to sing and always tries to pour her heart out every time she performs.  I believe her too.  Her vocals were spine tingling as she sang “Broken Wing,” “Independence Day,” “Concrete Angel,” and “Anyway.”   Nobody sings those songs like Martina!  Did you know she can play harmonica?  Yep.  She played it during “Loves the Only House.”  And that’s not all; she has a brother in the band who plays guitar.  Talent runs in the family.

Martina affectionately referred to her opening acts as “the boys” acknowledging that they were sure to have gotten the crowd warmed up for her and indeed they did.

Jason Michael Carroll was first to shake things up singing, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead.”  He moved us all with his ballad “Alyssa Lies” – the first time I heard it on the radio, it stopped me in my tracks.  If you’ve never heard it before, you should give it a listen.  When his 3 year old son, JW, emerged holding a Guitar Hero guitar during the final song, “Waitin’ In the Country” you could hear a collective “Awww….” from the audience.    I’ve seen my own 3 year old grandson mimic his father with those Guitar Hero guitars so it was especially poignant for me.

Next up was Jack Ingram whose goal was to get everyone in the Pavilion on their feet participating at least once.  He proved to be very convincing.  If he saw you sitting down he pointed you out to the camera man.  He encouraged audience participation on his older songs, “Keep on Keepin’ On” and “Barbie Doll” but it was his newer hits, “Lips of An Angel,” “Wherever You Are” and “Love You” that had the crowd singing along.  Jack is obviously a people person because he jumped down from the stage and mingled with the crowd for a few minutes during his set.  He took photos with one fan and chatted with some girls who had seen him jogging earlier in the day.  He had asked them if they were looking forward to seeing Jack Ingram that night and they’d replied, “Jack who?”  I bet they know who he is now!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brooks and Dunn in Charlottesville, VA - September 7, 2008


Even if you don’t know many country music artists, I’d venture to guess you’ve probably heard the name “Brooks & Dunn.”   Winning Country Music Association’s ”Vocal Duo of the Year” award practically every year since 1992, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn must be doing something right.  Judging from their performance at JPJ Arena September 7th, it’s apparent they’ve done their homework.  Blending old favorites with new songs they captured the audience the moment they stepped onto the stage.

Well known for their high energy shows, Kix Brooks kept things lively with his enthusiastic personality and guitar playing while Ronnie Dunn interacted with the crowd, at one point playing cowbell, tossing drumsticks to fans.  Kix also played harmonica and flirted with the female back-up singers, all in good fun.  Songs like “She Likes To Get Out of Town,” “Play Something Country,” “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk (Out of the Girl), “Hillbilly Delux,” and their new single “Put a Girl In It” are so upbeat it’s hard to stay seated, you just want to get up and dance!  In fact one lucky girl in the front row was hoisted onto the stage to do-se-do and go for a spin with Kix Brooks.  He literally spun her around until they were both a little dizzy.  She’ll definitely have something to tell the folks back home!

Ronnie Dunn, who was dressed in black, appears to be the more reserved member of the duo.  His vocals are delivered with power and conviction and when he sang “Believe” I got goose bumps.  It was beautiful.  But that wasn’t the only song that proved to be emotional during the show.  As Brooks & Dunn sang “Only In America” several service men marched to the end of catwalk, stood at attention and saluted while red, white and blue streamers cascaded down upon the crowd.

Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn sure know how to weave a show together.  With up-tempo songs like “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “Brand New Man,” and “Red Dirt Road,” mixed with ballads like “Neon Moon” and “My Maria” you feel like you’re riding a wave and when it’s over you think, “Wow! That was FUN!

Rodney Atkins opened for Brooks & Dunn. I remember the first time I saw Rodney.  I was in Nashville at the 2006 CMA Festival.  His drummer, Kevin, actually invited me to the Riverfront to listen to his band and asked if I’d ever heard their song, “If You’re Going Through Hell.”  It had just begun to get some air play on the radio and I’d heard it a few weeks before so my girlfriends and I went to the Riverfront and saw Rodney and the band perform.  He was terrific and still is.

I got a chance to catch up with both Kevin and Rodney backstage in Charlottesville.   They are delightful young men and I’m so glad that Rodney’s songs have done well on country radio.  He was quite excited about opening for Brooks & Dunn.

 Rodney Atkins exhibits a down home country charm when on stage, comfortably chatting and joking with the audience.  He sings “These Are My People” with enthusiasm using a spotlight to shine on “his people” in the crowd.  He has quite a sense of humor as evidenced by the song, “Cleaning This Gun” about a father’s advice to a boy who wants to date his daughter.  He wrote the song “Watching You” with his son Elijah in mind and I noticed while singing it at JPJ Arena he changed the words “Scooby Doo night light” to “Spiderman night light” so I assume Elijah is a fan of Spiderman these days.

Published in the Star Exponent 9-19-08 - Brooks and Dunn Get Down