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, 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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Keith Urban in Wasington, D.C. July 28, 2011


Keith Urban’s “Get Closer” tour provided ample opportunity for Urban fans to do just that at the Verizon Center July 28th.  After performing several popular songs like “Put You in a Song,” “Days Go By,” “Only You Can Love Me This Way,” “Long Hot Summer,” and “Stupid Boy,” Urban left the main stage and ventured out into the crowd.  Passing within arm’s reach of two of my friends they observed a gleeful Urban flanked by security being high-fived, patted on the back, touched and grabbed by numerous fans along the way to a circular satellite stage near the middle of the arena.

Out in the midst of the crowd Urban performed “I’m In,” “Jeans On,” and then sat down to sing “You’ll Think of Me” as the platform began to slowly rotate and rise from the floor giving everyone a clear view.  Afterward  he cheerily braved the masses making his way back to the main stage and reminded us all of his extraordinary guitar skills with a blistering guitar solo during “’Til Summer Comes Around."

As Urban surveyed the many colorful signs scattered among the crowd one in particular caught his eye proclaiming “Nicole Says It’s O.K. For You To Kiss Me.”  Pretending to text his wife for permission, Urban invited the young lady on stage, gave her a kiss on the cheek and posed for a photo. 

She was not the only fan invited on stage.  During the song “Sweet Thing” three volunteers from the audience were selected by Urban for a friendly competition of “Urban Karaoke.”   Each volunteer sang a round of the chorus and the soloist earning the most applause won the privilege of finishing the song with Urban while the other two sang with band members all in good fun.

Just when we thought Urban was on the main stage to stay he took off once again, this time into the far reaches of the second level to sing “You Look Good In My Shirt” where he left a signed guitar in the hands of an astonished fan.

In the end it was a country rocking, good time party hosted by Keith Urban where concert goers were made to feel like honored guests.  Urban acknowledged each section of the arena then declared how much he appreciated the fact that we took the time and spent our hard earned money to come share a couple hours with him especially during “these uncertain economic times.”

Jake Owen
Concert opener Jake Owen served to whet the crowd’s appetite delivering up a nice mix of his hits (“Yee Haw,” “Startin’ With Me,” “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,”) with selections from his new album set to be released August 30th.  If the songs “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and “Trip to Heaven” are any indication of what’s in store, we’re definitely in for a treat.

Set List for Keith Urban 07-28-2011

1)    Put You In A Song
2)    You Gonna Fly
3)    Boondocks (snippet of Little Big Town cover)
4)    Only You Can Love Me This Way
5)    Long Hot Summer
6)    Stupid Boy
7)    Silly Love Songs (Paul McCartney cover)
8)    Making Memories Of Us

Satellite Stage
9)    I'm In
10)    Jeans On
11)    You'll Think Of Me
12)    Days Go By
13)    I Told You So
14)    Til Summer Comes Around
15)    Sweet Thing
16)    Kiss A Girl (with fans on stage)
17)    Without You
18)    Somebody Like You
19)    Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me
20)    Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (Waylon Jennings cover)

Band member Covers:
21)    With Or Without You (U2 cover - snippet, sung by Jerry Flowers, bass guitar player)
22)    American Girl (Tom Petty cover - snippet, sung by Danny Radar, guitarist)
23)    It's a Long Way to the Top (AC/DC cover - snippet, sung by Brian Nutter, guitarist)

Song performed in upper level
24)    You Look Good In My Shirt

25)    Tonight I Wanna Cry
26)    Better Life

Published: The Star Exponent
Re-posted on  Urban Country News

Monday, June 20, 2011

Flatts Fest in Bristow, VA June 18, 2011


Rascal Flatts brought their show to town with all the fun and games of the midway at a fair complete with a shooting range, mini golf, a dunk tank, face painting, exhibits, a prize wheel and a karaoke challenge to keep folks of all ages entertained before the evening performances.  The Flatts Fest at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA on June 18 was the first of many scheduled across the country this summer.

Justin Moore

First to perform on the main stage was Justin Moore who reminded me of a caged tiger as he paced the stage with purpose and intensity.  When he wasn’t grabbing hands he was grabbing our attention with poignant lyrics to songs like “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” and “Small Town USA.”

Easton Corbin

Easton Corbin came out next with his down home country charm and George Strait voice.  He seemed content to stay in his comfort zone behind his guitar singing several of his own hits (see set list) and covering Brooks & Dunn’s “Put A Girl In It.”

Sara Evans

Sara Evans added some much needed glamour and femininity to the show.  She had to walk carefully in those high heels.  She confessed her fear of a “Shania Twain moment” (falling) with the hazardous combination of heels and a slick, shiny stage.  Yet Evans managed to maneuver quite well if not cautiously and often reached out and connected with her fans as she sang through a number of her famous songs.

Amid smoke and flashing strobe lights Rascal Flatts emerged through three separate doors, descended stairs and proceeded to three different drum sets for the intro which led into opening number “Why Wait.”

Rascal Flatts - sharply dressed in black & white
Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus looked mighty sharp in their black and white color coordinated outfits but the evening was all about the fans filling the pit and lining the stage frequently reaching out to the Flatts boys.  Eager fans were rewarded for their adoration and enthusiasm with high fives, handshakes, winks and nods.

As the show progressed Rascal Flatts gave tribute to their early musical influences.  DeMarcus played piano and sang Michael McDonald’s “Taking It To the Streets.”  Rooney played guitar and sang Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “The House Is Rockin” and Vince Gill’s “What the Cowgirls Do.”  But it was LeVox who got the crowd to sing along on his solo of the popular Stevie Wonder song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Sara Evans ventured on stage to join Gary LeVox for a lovely rendition of the song “Easy” from Rascal Flatts’ album “Nothing Like This” and Lionel Ritchie joined the boys via video magic for their encore performance of “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

For more photos from the Concert see: Flatts Fest Pics


Justin Moore:
  1. Backwoods 
  2. How I Got to Be This Way 
  3. If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away 
  4. Small Town USA 
  5. Kick Your A$$ 
  6. Give Me All Your Loving
Easton Corbin:
  1. The Way Love Looks
  2. A Little More Country Than That
  3. Put A Girl In It (Brooks & Dunn cover)
  4. Can't Love You Back
  5. It’ll Make You Wanna Drink
  6. Roll With It
Sara Evans:
  1. As If
  2. Perfect
  3. Born To Fly
  4. My Heart Can’t Tell You No (Rod Stewart Cover)
  5. Stronger
  6. I Keep Looking
  7. Suds In The Bucket
  8. Real Fine Place To Start
Rascal Flatts:
  1. Why Wait
  2. Me & My Gang
  3. Summer Nights
  4. Broken Road
  5. Stand
  6. Unstoppable
  7. My Wish
  8. Taking It to The Streets (Michael McDonald cover)
  9. House is Rockin/Cowgirls (Stevie Ray Vaughn / Vince Gill Covers)
  10. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Stevie Wonder Cover)
  11. Lonesome Road
  12. Easy – with Sara Evans 
  13. Life Is a Highway
  14. Fast Cars & Freedom/Red Camero
  15. Take Me There
  16. What Hurts The Most
  17. Tonight. Tonight 
          I Won't Let Go
          Dancing On The Ceiling (Lionel Richie Cover)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sugarland with Little Big Town in Columbia, MD


I ventured to Columbia, MD with my sister and some girl friends to catch Sugarland’s latest tour and, as always, it was a pleasure.  Here are some highlights from the show on May 22 at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Opener Matt Nathanson talked about what a hard time he had believing Sugarland had been performing one of his songs in concert until Jennifer Nettles actually called and chatted with him on the phone.  Not long after that he said he was invited to join them on tour.  Sugarland’s Kristian Bush then came out joined Matt in singing the song in question “Come On Get Higher.” (listen here)

Little Big Town recalled their first tour with Sugarland at Columbia, MD in August 2006 and said it was good to be back.  They now have many hits to their credit and performed a number of them along with several selections from their new album “The Reason Why.”  Mid-way through their set Little Big Town talked about recent a challenge issued by one of their fans to “countrify” a Lady Gaga song.  “You bet we can!” declared Karen Fairchild.  And they proceeded to show us how it’s done with a fantastic rendition of “Born This Way.”

Sugarland exploded onto the stage amid bright lights and smoke singing “All We Are” from their latest album, “The Incredible Machine.” They sang several crowd favorites in addition to the collaboration “Run” with Matt Nathanson from his upcoming album.

Sugarland had a lot of fun with the song “Everyday America,” turning it into a medley including snippets of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious.”

As the concert drew to a close Jennifer Nettles reminded the audience of the widespread prediction for the end of the world.  “My mom is the best person I know so when I called her yesterday and she didn’t answer I was a little worried…“she confided, “But I finally reached her and I figure if she’s still here then we all must be o.k. ”  At that Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson joined Sugarland on stage for an encore performance of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

“Let’s party!” said Jennifer Nettles – and indeed they did!
Sugarland, Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson

To view more photos from the concert click here 

Set List from Columbia, MD Show:

Matt Nathanson
1.    Car Crash
2.    Room
3.    Faster
4.    Come On Get Higher
5.    Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)

Little Big Town
1.    Little White Church
2.    A Little More You
3.    The Reason Why
4.    Bones
5.    Why Oh Why
6.    Bring It On Home
7.    Born This Way (Lady Gaga)
8.    Shut Up Train
9.    All The Way Down
10.    Runaway Train
11.    Boondocks

1.    All We Are
2.    Stuck Like Glue
3.    It Happens
4.    Settlin’
5.    Tonight
6.    All I Want To Do
7.    Incredible Machine
8.    Little Miss
9.    Run Right Into You (Matt Nathanson)
10.    Baby Girl
11.    Everyday America
a.    Forget You (Cee Lo Green)
b.    Hit Me Baby One More Time (Britney Spears)
c.    9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
d.    Bootylicious (Destiny’s Child)
12.    Stay
13.    Find the Beat Again / Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
14.    Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Bon Jovi)
15.    Something More
16.    Stand Up
17.    Like A Prayer (Madona) with Little Big Town
18.    It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (R.E.M)