Brad Paisley moved into the rock zone with REO Speedwagon during Sony Music’s concert and dinner aboard the General Jackson showboat in Nashville. One of the highlights surrounding Country Radio Seminar, the Thursday night (Feb. 28) cruise on the Cumberland River attracted radio industry executives from throughout the nation.
Miranda Lambert opened the show with her latest single “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and then called husband Blake Shelton to the stage. Shelton, who records for Warner Bros, joked, “I never thought I’d be on the RCA or Sony — or whatever the hell you call it — boat.”
The couple sang an acoustic version of “Over You” before leaving the stage, but Lambert returned quickly as a member of the Pistol Annies with bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. After performing “Hell on Heels,” the trio introduced “Hush Hush,” a new song to be featured on their upcoming album.
Kelly Clarkson bounded to the stage wearing a T-shirt with the logo of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). With a joking reference to the revelry the radio programmers have experienced during CRS, she said, “I’m wearing the ’don’t do drugs’ shirt. Nobody told me about the alcohol.”
When Clarkson performed “Don’t Rush,” singer-songwriter Jason Sellers filled in for Vince Gill , who provided vocal harmonies on the recording. Clarkson got some additional vocal assistance from the Pistol Annies when she gave the crowd a taste of her new music with “Ain’t Gonna Like This,” an upbeat song that name checks Trisha Yearwood and Aretha Franklin.
Paisley performed two songs from his upcoming Wheelhouse album, opening on an acoustic note with “Harvey Bodine,” a comical song about an unhappy husband who happily discovers a legal loophole after being declared dead but revived by a defibrillator machine.
Things got a lot louder when Paisley strapped on his electric guitar for his latest single, “Beat This Summer.” He has a well-deserved reputation as a great musician, but the solos in the song allowed him to explore some unexpected territory as a slide guitarist.
Finishing the song, he segued into the first verse of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It on the Run,” providing the cue for the rock band to hit the stage to perform the hit as they originally intended it to sound. With Sara Evans occasionally providing harmony vocals, Paisley and his band essentially merged with REO Speedwagon.
Lead vocalist Kevin Cronin noted that the lines between country music and their style of rock have now become more blurred than ever and that many of his band’s hits would sound like country music if they performed them acoustically.
“It’s all country music,” Cronin said. “It’s good songs. It’s all country music.”
As the boat prepared to return to the downtown dock, Paisley and REO Speedwagon guitarist Dave Amato shared leads on several of band’s most popular songs, including “Music Man,” “Keep on Lovin’ You,” “Time for Me to Fly” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”