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Reminiscing Time: The First Country Concert I Ever Hosted Was Randy Travis

We have our all important Countryfest on the horizon.  Always a very exciting time here at ‘GNA.  I’ve lost count but I’m pretty sure I’m close to 20 of them.  Which makes me think back to the very first time I ever introduced a country show way back when.  Let’s go back, shall we?

This is wild, but I actually “googled” this and I found out exactly when the concert was:  March 30th, 1990 at the Knickerbocker Arena (that’s the Times Union Center for you kids).  The headliner?  Randy Travis.

Randy Travis
photo by Getty Images

His opening act? Ricky Van Shelton.  Ever hear of him?  Great talent.

Ricky Van Shelton
from website

One of his big hits was “Statue of A Fool

But I digress.  The reason that this sticks in my mind is that it was the very first time I got on stage with my partner at the time, the late, great Uncle Fred Horton. We get there to introduce the show, and immediately were told that Van Shelton (no relation to Blake, by the way) was in the RV sick with laryngitis. We actually went into the RV and I remember the look on his face.  He was REALLY upset about it.

So was I!  In other words, we had to go onstage to a country audience and tell them that one of the stars aren’t showing up?  OMG.

“You can’t do that with all those rednecks in the audience”, I remember saying to my partner.  ”They’ll get violent.  They have guns!”  I had every stereotype of a country listener ingrained in me back then.  My knees were literally knocking together wondering what they were going to do.

The lights went up, we went out there and explained the situation the best we could  Guess what?  They were the most quiet, polite group EVER.  They gave him a very sympathetic round of applause and we soldiered on.

I walked out of there saying to myself “wow, country audiences are actually MORE polite than other shows I’ve been to.  And I’m not just saying this- I have found it to be true to this day.    So much for stereotypes, huh?

And one more quick story.  I was backstage and this guy came up to me and asked, with a huge southern drawl “Can you tell me where the bathroom is, brother?”.  It was Randy himself.  My knees knocked for yet a second time.

Well, that was my first experience.  I’ll never forget it.  And when I saw the crowd reaction it was just one more reason why I wanted to make this my radio home, and has stayed that way (thanks to you) for over 20 years.

Boy, this is a long way to go to promote Countryfest, huh?  Not sure who’s coming, but you’ll find out soon enough at our kickoff breakfast at Tops Diner in Rotterdam on Thursday, March 22nd. Be a part of the audience!

 

 

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