Alan Jackson delighted close to 1,000 of his loyal fans with an up-close and personal concert Wednesday night (June 10). The show at Nashville’s Cadillac Ranch was part of his anniversary tribute program — “Keepin’ It Country — 20 Years” — and marked his two decades with the same record label, Arista Nashville.
The tribute evening was free to Jackson loyalists — if they got in line in time in front of the club on Lower Broadway. With fans lining up early, soon there was a long procession of Jacksonphiles — many of whom brought coolers and lawn chairs for the wait — that almost rivaled his world’s longest line dance. It also added to the general throngs of crowds and the festive atmosphere that marked downtown Nashville as thousands of country fans descended on the city for the CMA Music Festival .
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean welcomed the fans in the club for the evening and noted the significance of Jackson’s accomplishments. He introduced Country Music Association CEO Tammy Genovese, who also congratulated Jackson and brought on Jackson’s longtime labelmate, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn. They showed a video of Jackson’s career highlights and presented him with an elaborate collage commemorating his success.
Brooks recalled his history with Jackson, especially how the latter was responsible for the formation of Brooks & Dunn. “[Arista Records head] Tim DuBois told me and Ronnie Dunn that he already had a boy singer [Jackson],” Brooks said, adding that DuBois’ advice was for Brooks and Dunn to form a duo to avoid competing. “Alan keeps that music right on the line,” Brooks said. “He is country music.”
Jackson and his longtime band the Strayhorns took over the stage after the opening remarks and didn’t let up for an hour and 42 minutes of nonstop music. To start, he reached back for the title song of his first album, 1990′s Here in the Real World, which was also his first chart hit. Then he ran through such fan favorites as “Wanted,” “Livin’ on Love,” “Drive,” and “Tall, Tall Trees” and worked his way through his recorded catalogue, all the way up to songs from his latest Good Time.
As ever, Jackson sang much and spoke little during the evening. He thanked his fans and said, “This is too much attention for this ol’ country boy.” He also poked fun at his usual attire, pointing to his jeans and remarking, “I finally saved up enough money to buy me some blue jeans without holes in ‘em.” And he introduced a few of his songs, prefacing “A Woman’s Love,” for example, by saying, “This song is from a few years ago, but I’m still trying to learn about things like a woman’s love.”
The closer, as most in the crowd suspected, was a rousing and rocking version of his 1993 hit “Chattahoochee.” After its raucous close, many of the diehard fans pressed around the stage and called for an encore, but Jackson — ever a man of a few, well-chosen words — had clearly delivered his message for the night. And, judging from the fans’ reactions as they left, no one was disappointed.View photos from Alan Jackson’s appearance at Cadillac Ranch.