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Hick at heart

Little Jimmy Jackson is jackin’ up his Bronco,
He’s gonna lay a little rubber later on at the truck pull.
All the girls are getting’ pretty sprayin’ on the White Rain,
Yeah they’re gonna get a rowdy tonight down at the football game
Yeah!

Hicktown by Jason Aldean

I grew up in the wild west, in a Colorado/Utah border town situated in the high desert. Friday nights were spent at football games. My hair went through a phase of great height and depth and curlage.

The first vehicle I drove was a 1967 Dodge pickup truck. It was calico, which for a truck means a mottled navy blue, rust, and bare silver steel. A pine tree, cut by my dad with his chain saw, timbered itself a nice little notch in the roof of the cab. Durnit! The truck sported a gun rack and an Ask First to Hunt or Fish on Private Land bumper sticker.

I can cast a fishing line and have pulled triggers. I’ve held cow pies in my bare hands.

But I couldn’t wait to leave. I desperately wanted to distance myself from these roots, to set myself above and apart from the culture of the Hicktown.

Country music was the genre to avoid, to mock. Secretly, I liked old-time country superstars like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Sr. They had a different sound and a glamour reserved for dead 1950s icons. As a general rule, I’ve kept my distance from twang, banjo, and steel guitar.

Recently, I was invited by Country Financial to have a VIP Backstage Experience with country superstar Jason Aldean. He is on tour and was making a stop about 5 minutes from my house. Would I like to attend?

I contemplated a night of being immersed in the music I tried to escape for so many years. I admit I was completely unfamiliar with Jason Aldean’s music, so I began to research. I read his biography and watched his videos. Something funny happened. I realized I liked what I was hearing—not just because he is legitimately talented, but because he stirred up something I had buried. For the first time in years, I had a bout of Hicktown Pride.

I couldn’t wait to go to the concert.

My date for the night was Nini. One of the reasons I chose her was because I knew she was not a country music aficionado, either. She was slightly skeptical, but was ready for the adventure. It’s always fun to be a fish out of water.

We arrived at the 1st Bank Center and picked up our packet from will call. Inside was a sticker allowing access to the backstage area, which wasn’t really backstage at all. Country Financial set up a very nice private reception area with food, drinks, seating for an intimate acoustic performance, and photos. Nini and I mingled and noshed on beef saute, bacon-wrapped shrimp, brie en croute, and beverages. We wrote on a special wall which is going with Jason on tour.

My first glimpse of Mr. Aldean was about 1 second before our photo was snapped with him. It was a little disconcerting because right before it was our turn to shake his hand and smile, I realized something:

He was the biggest star I’ve ever met. Murray Wiggle? You’ve been demoted.

Here is Jason’s resume: He has 2 platinum and 1 gold records. He’s had 4 singles reach #1 on the country charts, plus 6 other highly-charting singles. He won “Top New Male Vocalist” at the Academy of Country Music Awards. This guy is legit.

Of course he was charming and, as Nini overheard another woman say, he smelled good. Here is the photo:

gandnandj

After the photo session, he sat on a little stage with his bass and guitar players. He graciously answered questions from our small audience. His sense of humor kept everyone laughing, which is no surprise because country music lyrics are often really, really funny.

Jason talked about his little girls. I could tell he is a devoted daddy. Another guest asked why he changed the iffy lyrics in a song he often covered. He said it was because there could be a 4-year-old sitting in the front row. I love how he shows respect and consideration to everyone in his audience. I liked him even more.

He performed a very nice version of “The Big Green Tractor” before leaving to prepare for the show. Nini and I made our way to our seats, which were on the floor, seventh row. Luke Bryan was already on stage, opening for Jason. His bit of the show was energetic and entertaining. One thing I noted about these country dudes is they seem to genuinely like the fans. You almost get the sense that if they could, they’d come around and shake everyone’s hand.

Jason Aldean’s show did not disappoint. He has a great voice and his band is crazy-talented. The song selection mixed slower ballads with the rowdy let’s-party manifestos country music has perfected. A nice surprise in the middle of the set were two Bryan Adams songs. Jason finished off the night with a post-encore “Cowboy” by Kid Rock. Yee-haw, he can smell a pig from a mile away.

My ears have finally stopped ringing. It was loud in the seventh row. I felt guilty about the volume, so I spent most of the show sitting in my seat with my purse and Nini’s jacket clutched in front of my belly.

Nini predicted the baby is going to be a country music fan.

That would be okay with me.

Jason Aldean’s Wide Open tour is probably coming to a city near you. Even if you don’t love country music, you should entertain the idea of going. It’s a great show, a great time, and one of the best parts is simply hanging out with 6,000 people in plaid shirts and smiles.

He’ll be in St. Louis, Tacoma, St. Paul, Phoenix, plus several other cities. Click here to see if he will be in your area.

(Full bloggy responsible disclosure: I was given free backstage passes, an invitation to a party, and concert tickets, but rest assured if I thought the experience was intolerable, I would have gladly shared how awful it was. I ain’t shy.)

12 comments to Hick at heart

  • I wondered who it was you saw on stage wearing a cowboy hat. Oh my, I didn’t realize it was Jason Aldean. And you got to see Luke Bryan too? If you ever need a country lovin’ fan to accompany you to a concert, give me a call. I’d gladly join you, but I’d try not to look too hickish. Yeehaw!
    .-= joanne´s last blog ..Cooking With Ethan =-.

  • I love it! Gretchen, like you, I live a totally different life now. I think it sounds like you had a great time! When you have to ask Baby #8 to TURN IT DOWN, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. 😉
    .-= The Casual Perfectionist´s last blog ..Any day that involves cupcakes is a special day. =-.

  • You’re gorgeous. Sounds like SO. MUCH. FUN.
    .-= Sara Joy´s last blog ..Inquiring Minds =-.

  • LOOK AT YOU. You look fabulous. And your story sounds so similar to mine- I wrinkle my nose at any “newer”country music but it sounds like you had a fabulous time!

    Steph
    .-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..Do I need to separate you two? =-.

  • Hey, tell your country music fairy that if they need someone to sacrifice on their behalf in St. Louis, you might know someone who would be interested… I’m just sayin’…

  • Shayne

    He was just here playing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I used to listen to country when I was younger (I liked Kenny Rogers best of all), but “new country” doesn’t do much for me.

    It sounds like the concert was a blast, and my husband surely would have endured the entire thing just to hear that “Cowboy” encore! After reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t make the effort to go so him when he was in town!

  • Well, you had me at the shamrock! How are you Gretchen?
    I saw your comment on my friend Pam’s blog, Views From My Kitchen Sink. We live in Colorado Springs. Have you had as much snow up north as we have down here? I’m finally getting used to the spring storms around here, but it took 12 years!
    I’m a California girl, born and bred, but grew up going to Kansas and Colorado for long visits with relatives. Their country influence must have rubbed off because here I am!
    I love your writing, and this post! Must go and explore some
    more! Take care, Kelly

  • I “saw” you through a friend’s window..at her sink. 🙂 And, now I’ll be following you! Love your writing, so far. Can’t wait to get a steamin’ cup of jo in the a.m. and set for a spell.

  • Thanks for the encouraging comments on the blog. it is a good way to think about it – that this baby is deciding on his or her birthday, instead of just thinking about how I’m tired of being pregnant and just want this baby to come. And I definitely like your very minimalist approach to packing for the hospital. It was funny that you mentioned thank you notes – I had actually been contemplating whether or not to throw them in the bag. (Who was I kidding??) Anyway…I’m off to swim now. Thanks again for the thoughts and prayers. And hopefully, this baby will choose a birthday that is sometime sooner rather than later. 🙂
    .-= Aubrey´s last blog ..Due Date. =-.

  • I can see myself in your growing up years: as a farm kid, I too pulled triggers. I also drove 5 tonne trucks and heard more country music than I cared too. Looks like you had fun, though!
    .-= Ironic Mom´s last blog ..5 Stupid Comments Made to Parents of Twins =-.

  • Yee HAW! Sounds like a fun time, even though I’m not a country music fan. I am a good clean entertainment fan. And you look adorable.
    .-= Heth´s last blog ..Could This Be It? =-.

  • Stacey

    How funny- I met a different country star, Darryl Worley, when I was about 6 months pregnant with #5. It was my biggest celebrity moment also.

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