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The Front Row

George Strait continues his farewell tour in 2014
photo by Chuck Cox
Rattle and Hum Sports

Trio of Texans Performing Early in three 2014 Shows

George Strait, Charlie Robinson and the North Texas Hip Hop Showcase

By Chuck Cox

Special Contributor

As hard as it might be to believe, I didn’t go to any concerts the first eight days of 2014. I know, I know. That’s a small miracle considering I averaged a show about every five days in 2013.

But I more than made up for the slow start by seeing lots of Texans play three shows in four nights, starting last Thursday in Bossier City, La., of all places. Yeah, I got home at 3:30 a.m. But it was more than worth the trip.

Here’s the breakdown:

1. George Strait, Jan. 9, CenturyLink Center – I told you guys last year about my trip to San Antonio to see “King George” at the Alamodome on the first leg of his final full-blown tour. That show, which included Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride on the bill, was awesome. However, my seat pretty much had me bumping my head on the top of the Alamodome.

Thursday’s show, the first of the second leg, more than made up for it. I somehow wound up on the second row, which was just amazing. And while Strait played at four different microphones on the four sides of the stage, he was still right in front of me for about six or seven songs. Very cool. The best trip to our side of the stage included him singing “Amarillo By Morning” and “The Chair.”

The set list was pretty similar to the one in San Antonio, although it was a little bit shorter. However, getting to see a true Texas legend play about 10 feet away from me was absolutely awesome. This guy started cranking out albums before I reached seventh grade.

Jason Aldean opened the show. Although his music doesn’t really do much for me, he was a good, solid showman. He came back out and sang a couple of songs with Strait, too.

The “Cowboy Rides Away” Tour will wrap up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on June 7. The star-studded finale will include three songs each from Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lambert, McBride and Lee Ann Womack. Texas swing pioneers Asleep at the Wheel will open the show. Strait played a big show to open the stadium in 2009, too.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see Strait play live, I would suggest making it to that show. How often do you get to see a guy with 60 No. 1 hits? Hint: He’s the only one to every do it.

George Strait photo album.

The Front Row

The North Texas Hip Hop Show
Photo by Chuck Cox
Rattle and Hum Sports

2. North Texas Hip Hop Showcase, Jan. 11, Granada Theatre – Having recovered with a full night’s sleep, I made my way to the Granada for the show headlined by A.Dd+. I fell in love with A.Dd+ when I saw it open a New Year’s Eve show for Sarah Jaffe at the Kessler in 2012. And the duo, consisting of Slim Gravy (one of my all-time favorite hip hop names) and Paris Pershun, put on a fantastic show once again.

The theme of the show was boxing. Most of the performers played inside a ring constructed on the stage. And A.Dd+ came out in American flag boxing gear, a la Apollo Creed. These guys have amazing energy and skills.

Another big draw for me was AV The Great, who was the first act of the night. The Denton rapper, who I have known since he was in high school, got the crowd into it early with his usual high-energy show. This was my second time to see AV play, and I honestly believe he is a real talent with a ton of drive.

The same can be said for the rest of the acts on the bill — Blue, The Misfit, Sam Lao, Topic, Lord Byron and Jaeson Green. The Dallas/Fort Worth area truly has some gifted young rappers. And even though the show was a bit lengthy, it was a lot of fun.

North Texas Hip Hop Showcase photo album

3. Charlie Robison, Jan. 12, The Kessler — I wrapped up my first set of shows of the new year with an old favorite. Bandera’s own Charlie Robison has been cranking out fantastic music for years now. And this was only the second time I had the chance to see him play live.

The fact the show was acoustic made it even more spectacular. Armed only with a guitar, Robison played a stellar set list to a crowd that couldn’t seem to keep the chatter down, which is unusual for the Kessler. Frankly, it got a little annoying toward the end of the show.

The Front Row

Charlie Robinson at the Kessler Theater
Photo By Chuck Cox
Rattle and Hum Sports

But Robison fought through it admirably, obliging the crowd with favorites like “Sunset Boulevard,” “Loving County” and “My Hometown.” He also closed the show with a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” which was outstanding. I’m always excited when acts like Robison play the Kessler, because the sound is so amazing and the room is so intimate.

Opening act Bonnie Bishop was also stellar. The pairing of the two acts was perfect. And I love discovering artists I had never heard of before. Bishop has an amazing voice and played the guitar and piano beautifully.

Charlie Robison photo album.

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