June 8, 2009 — The economy is tough, but it's not so bad that people are giving up their country music. At a time when few acts in any genre are risking the big bucks involved in promoting stadium shows, country had two #151; count 'em, two — stadium gigs on the same day this past weekend, headlined by George Strait and Kenny Chesney, with four more on the way in this week's CMA Music Festival. And that tally doesn't even take into account a huge outdoor festival in Alabama.
George's appearance in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday was a special occasion — and not just because it was the first-ever event at the $1.15-billion Cowboys Stadium. It also marked the first time George and Reba McEntire had eve r played a major concert together, and it brought out more than 60,000 fans, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
They faced traffic snarls, one-hour waits for margaritas and $40 parking tabs, on top of tickets priced from $38.50 to $137.50. But they also got a lot of good music. George trotted out 100 minutes of material, including "I Saw God Today," "The Fireman," "Give It Away," "Write This Down," "Ocean Front Property" and his new single "Living For The Night," as well as an encore cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," The Dallas Morning News reported. Reba served up "Rumor Has It," "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia," "Fancy" and "Is There Life Out There."
Blake Shelton ran through his hits, adding in a rendition of the freecreditreport.com jingle, and Lee Ann Womack was a last-minute fill-in for Julianne Hough, sidelined — according to WDAF-TV — by strep throat. Quite the fill-in: Lee Ann, becoming the inaugural artist to perform at the new venue, packed 35 minutes with "I Hope You Dance," "Last Call" and "Ashes By Now," among others.
Kenny meanwhile brought his Sun City Carnival Tour to the Pittsburgh Steelers' home, Heinz Field, with his usual array of talent. The bill for the day included Sugarland, Montgomery Gentry, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum, meaning the tens of thousands of fans had much of the fare on the current country dial recreated for t hem in one location on one day: "Settlin'," "Beer In Mexico," "Lucky Man," "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven," "All I Want To Do" and "Back When I Knew It All" were all part of the set list, which also had Miranda closing with Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll."
Kenny's seemingly annual trek to Heinz was "almost as American as apple pie," The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raved.
If those two shows didn't provide enough big-ticket country, Dothan, Ala., played host to the three-day BamaJam, which closed out Saturday night. More than 120,000 people reportedly attended in a single day two different times during the event, which boasted Alan Jackson, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Charlie Daniels and the Black Crowes, among others.
It's not over. Kenny has been added to the next round of stadium concerts; he's the final act for Sunday's CMA Music Festival show at the Tennessee Titans' field, LP Field, in Nashville. The lineup for that night already included Taylor Swift, Montgomery Gentry, John Rich, Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram. Among the artists playing the three previous nights are Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, the Judds, Martina McBride, Rodney Atkins and Trace Adkins.
Tickets for one night at those CMA shows run $40 or $30, and the very best seats (more than $175 for all four nights) are already sold out. The economy might be bad, but give people a20ton of country music in one place, they'll find a way to make it.