Monday, August 28, 2006

No place like an adopted home

I got back home a bit ago from the Sara Evans concert at the Oregon State Fair.

At the risk of sounding like a groupie, or worse yet a stalker, I've seen Evans in concert three times in the past two years. The first show was in Las Vegas in December 2004 during the National Finals Rodeo when Phil Vassar opened for her at one of the showrooms there. Then last year, I saw Sugarland, Evans and Brad Paisley kick off Paisley's Time Well Wasted tour in Portland in September 2005. I'd seen Paisley once before in Vegas a few years earlier, and enjoy his live performance, but I bought the Portland tickets mostly to see Evans perform again.

So, perhaps it's unnecessary to say, I'm a bit of a Sara Evans fan.

And Evans put on a good show for the crowd just down the road from her adopted home of Aumsville, where she lives with her husband Craig Schelske and their children, when not in Nashville or touring.

Evans may have been born a Missouri farm girl, and as the reigning Academy of Country Music female vocalist of the year she has reached the top echelon of Nashville stardom, but she's called Oregon home, at least part of the time, for more than a decade. And the hometown crowd showed their appreciation in the sold out show.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that The Pavilion on the Oregon State Fairgrounds is not a great concert venue. The acoustics were poor, wish sound crashing off the concrete floor and metal beams and exposed sheetmetal vent pipes. And the ventilation system was also inadequate to cool the indoor venue, either that or the system was turned on too late to do any good.

But Evans, like her fellow songstress Martina McBride, boasts one of the most powerful voices in country music. You'd swear she could fill the venue with pitch-perfect sound even without benefit of a microphone and speakers to amplify her voice.

Unfortunately, like most fair shows, the performance only lasted an hour and a half. I didn't take a notebook along to keep track of the playlist, but several of her hits weren't included in the set. If memory serve (and if any other concert goers want to correct me, please do so in the comments), I don't think she sang "Crying Game," "Fool I'm a Woman," "Momma's Night Out," or "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus." And there was only one encore, a cover of Lionel Ritchie's "Dancing On the Ceiling."

Given Evans' library of hits and selections from her current album, "Real Fine Place," she is certainly capable of filling a two-hour show with songs well known to a country crowd. Considering some of the songs she left out of her set, "Dancing On the Ceiling" may seem like a strange choice for a final song. But perhaps it fit, given the fact that Evans will make an appearance on ABC TV's "Dancing With the Stars" next month. She played that fact up to the audience, going so far as introducing her dance instructor/partner and asking the fans' votes during the show's run. The show debuts Sept. 12.

As the Salem Statesman Journal reported last week, Evans has been training here in Salem with with instructor Tony Dovolani. Evans told the crowd that Dovalani would be going on the road for her to keep up their practice schedule. Evans will play six shows at various venues in California before returning to the Northwest for an appearance at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho, on Sept. 8 and then playing to open the Pendleton Round-Up festivities Sept. 9.

The venue did not showcase Evans at her best. She can also be a bit chatty during her shows, as she was in Salem, but her charm gives the audience the feeling that this superstar is still the small town farm girl from Missouri who would gladly stop to chat with you in the produce aisle of the grocery store.

Yes, I'm a fan, but in spite of the fact that I practically begged to get the tickets I had for this show, I almost didn't go. But I kept remembering all those times commuting back and forth to college and seeing the Oregon State Fair billboards advertising the big-name concerts playing the fair. I swore back then that someday, when I had the means, I would go see some of those acts. Well, now, here I am, living just down the road from the fairgrounds with tickets and I was going to pass up the chance to see one of my favorite country singers? I would kick myself for sure.

So, in spite of my malaise, I went to the fairgrounds and had a great time. And I would do it again. (Even though it took almost as long to get out of the parking lot as it took Evans to put on her show.)

Hey, I just realized, my brother said he might have an extra ticket for the Sara Evans concert in Pendleton in less than 2 weeks. Heck, I took him to see Sara Evans in Vegas, so he owes me one. I hope he doesn't hold a grudge that I only got him a card for his birthday last week.

Oh, and I've got friends in my old stomping grounds of Palm Springs, which is just down the road from Sara's Sept. 2 show in Coachella, Calif. And I have some friends and a couple of coworkers in Sacramento, where she's performing Sept. 3.

Do you think six Sara Evans concerts in less than two years would be over the top? If it is, don't tell Sara. I may never be allowed through Aumsville when Evans is in town.

OK, so there's not much about agriculture in this post, but Sara Evans did grow up on a farm. Isn't that close enough?

No comments:

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos