My dad had a funny story he used to tell. One night he went to the fights and a hockey game broke out.
I had similar experience last night. I went to see Clint Black at the Weinberg Center and a Willie Nelson concert broke out.
Willie wasn’t there, but Clint does a mean impersonation of the “Red-headed Stranger.” It made me wonder if Willie does a Clint Black impersonation.
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Performing as herself only, Nashville recording artist Hailey Whitters opened for Clint. The native Iowan has written with some top songwriters, including Lori McKenna and has had songs recorded by Little Big Town (“Happy People”) and Alan Jackson’s most recent, “The Older I Get.” She co-wrote it with Adam Wright (Alan’s nephew) and Sarah Allison Turner. Alan reportedly nipped and tucked it a bit, especially the first verse Hailey said, but when she sang his version in her set it sounded and felt like an Alan Jackson song. She co-wrote “Happy People” with McKenna.
Her set included a song she co-wrote with McKenna who had met an 86-year-old woman named Janice who was full of pearls of wisdom for live, like “make a good living but don’t forget to make a good life.”
Hailey is the oldest of six kids and shared how seven years ago one of her brothers, Drake, was killed in an accident. She took some time away from the guitar and songwriting, but the first song she wrote after the tragedy was for Drake, called (raise) “One More Hell” (with you), even if there is hell to pay for it.
With a Miranda-like voice, she is definitely one to watch.
Clint Black, donning a black cowboy hat, of course, opened his set with “The Shoes You’re Wearing,” and rolled right into “Summer’s Comin’” and “A Better Man.” Those three songs and many others were co-written by Clint and his guitarist Hayden Nicholas. Clint said that Hayden and two other band mates, including the drummer, have been with him for 30 years or more.
Introducing “When My Ship Comes In,” Clint quipped that he and Hayden wrote this song while stranded in a cabin in Colorado with nothing to eat but steak and ribs (ha-ha!) “And that’s true as far as you know,” he told the audience.
With temperatures outside in the 30s and several inches of snow on the ground (but you know that!), he joked that he was glad they waited until spring to come to Frederick, because it could have been cold outside.
After a discussion about whether it’s Fred-er-ick or Fred-rick, with many in the audience clarifying it’s Fred-neck, Clint moved on to the next song, “Untanglin’ My Mind,” a song that he co-wrote with the late Merle Haggard in 1994, and definitely has that Merle vibe.
Clint also plays the harmonica and put us to the test singing back to him, in harmonica-speak, what he played on the harmonica. Good sports that we were, he explained he just wanted to see how silly Fredericktonians could be. (He should come back on April 7 for Silly Walks Day in downtown Frederick.)
He sang a few songs from his most recent album, “On Purpose,” but loaded the set with his hits because he has that many, like “No Time to Kill,” “Killing Time,” “State of Mind,” Like the Rain,” “Heartaches” and threw in a few Willie Nelson songs and Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” performed Clint-style and a song with 30-some country artists names in the lyrics.
Clint Black’s show was the first of three WFRE and Tri-County Pumps Free Country Rewind concert series. Up next is Sawyer Brown at 7 p.m. April 22, and Rodney Atkins at 7 p.m. May 9, both at the Weinberg Center for the Arts (www.weinbergcenter.org). WFRE and Mick’s Plumbing & Heating present the next free Random Act of Country is 7 p.m. April 18 with Southern Halo and special guest Adam Rutledge at Champion Billiards Sports Bar. More information on these artists at www.wfre.com.