Vince Gill led a Nashville A-team last night August 14, 2019, at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa. His two-hour-plus concert was a well-paced tour through his mega hits like One More Last Chance, Pocketful of Gold, When I Call Your Name, Liza Jane, Whenever You Come Around, I Still Believe in You and Go Rest High on That Mountain, plus an introduction to some new poignant songs including A World Without Haggard, Forever Changed, and When My Amy Prays from his upcoming album Okie due August 23. At Amazon here.
The audience hung on every note Mr. Gill, the superstar, showcased with his amazing vocal abilities and feathery finesse on electric or acoustic guitar. But he also demonstrated an impressive, genuine-seeming gracious spirit. He gave plenty of breathing room to highlight the deep talent around him. He said he simply preferred “sharing a stage” over always being in the limelight.
True to his word, he invited Mississippian Charlie Worsham (who Gill referenced as one of his favorite young country artists to arrive in Nashville) to front stage. As a band member, Mr. Worsham played guitar, mandolin, banjo (or ganjo), and did backup vocals. He obliged his opportunity from Gill with a perfect swing on That’s How I Learned to Pray. Charlie Worsham is another guitar ace with a smooth, smooth voice! In addition to playing these days with Gill, he sits on Old Crow Medicine Show. Here’s a link to his music. Check it out.
It was also great to see Jedd Hughes open the show with new material reflecting a new chapter in life. Mr. Hughes had a bit of a country radio hit with High Lonesome and maybe a few more in the mid 2000s. He nabbed a few big opening slots on superstar tours back then, too (I seem to recall him opening for Keith Urban, for one). But for the past 10 years, Hughes explained he’s mostly supported other artists’ music as a guitar player, producer, and songwriter. Last evening he delivered a batch of heartfelt songs from his new album West to be released later in August. I liked them, especially one he co-wrote with Guy Clark called Hollywood. Hughes, who moved to the US from Australia about 20 years ago, talked sweet about his new five-week old baby, his wife’s ability to keep the home fire burning, and the honor it was to take the stage with Gill’s band. He drew a big applause when he announced he’d also found a new sober life. Good for him. I hope to learn more about Jedd Hughes for a future post but here’s a link to his Facebook page for now.
Gill also gave backup singer Wendy Moten (who made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry this past spring) a nice showcase with Ode to Billie Joe and Ernest Tubb’s Driving Nails in My Coffin. Wow!
Rounding out the talented band were keyboardist John Jarvis, who co-wrote I Still Believe In You with Gill, Time Jumpers (and Nashville stalwarts) Billy Thomas (drums) and Paul Franklin (pedal), and guest bassist, the famed session player Jimmie Lee Sloas.
Gill’s gracious ways were also on display as he politely begged off when an audience member yelled for him to cover an Eagles song. He responded something like this: I was lucky to tour with one my favorite bands ever, the Eagles, for three years. Out of respect for them, I just play my songs at my own shows. Class act.
After the show, I was thrilled to join a quick Meet and Greet (I won a pass through his fan club) in a back hall of the theater. Gill’s tour manager just got done explaining we’d be taking a short elevator ride to meet the star when the door popped open and there was a slightly sweaty Vince Gill wearing shorts and a tee shirt. “It’s hot!” For the next few minutes, you got just what you’d expect after seeing Gill on stage or TV. He was kind and seemed happy to take a couple minutes with his diehard fans.
I took my big shot at a mini interview, asking Gill what he hopes TV viewers take away from the big Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary film coming out on PBS on Sept 15.
“RESPECT. It is that simple,” he said.
I also asked whether Young Man’s Town (which he mentioned as one of his favorites) was written about Nashville. With lyrics like, “we’ve got to face it, it’s a young man’s town, I knew this day was comin’ all along. So why bitch and moan and say they done you wrong. Just teach them what you know and pass it on down” I made the wrong assumption.
“No, just life.” Gill clarified, explaining he was commenting on a “gracious way to pass the baton” to a younger generation with no sour grapes. Thinking back to his generous spirit at the show, that makes perfect sense. See his performance of the tune at a Country Music Association show circa 2003 or 2004.
What a fun evening downtown Davenport. Dan, plus his cousins Karen and Leann, and I enjoyed our mid-week night out, including an excellent dinner at Duck City before the concert.
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