It is no secret that I am The Cadillac Three's biggest fan dating back to their American Bang days. Not only have they become good friends but they were my very first interview. So I will always hold them close to my heart. That being said, since their switch to this new genre I have had to hone my country skills and get up to date as my experience is minimal. Of course when I saw that my boys would be playing the Nash FM 93.1 Free for All Country Concert on 3/26/14 at The Fillmore, I said sign me up! The other artists on the bill were Kix Brooks from Brooks & Dunn, who held a dual role hosting and performing, American Idol Alum Scotty McCreery, Nash FM’s own Terri Clark, Brett Eldredge, Eric Paslay, and fan favorites Big & Rich. If you don’t know who they are, they are the duo that penned the huge hit “Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy”. Of all of these artists, the only ones I really knew of besides TC3 were Scotty McCreery and Big & Rich so I was excited to experience some new music.
Now here is the crazy part. The only way to get in to this show was to win tickets. The entire time the contest ran, I became inundated with emails and messages on my social media sites from people asking if I could get them into the show, as they knew I would be covering the show and that my friends were playing. I told them there really wasn’t anything I could do but they better make sure and enter as many times as they could and go to the ticket drops held all throughout Metro Detroit in the weeks leading up to the show. I was actually surprised that so many people I knew were country fans!
93.1 FM recently made the switch from Doug FM, which was an adult contemporary format to Nash FM, a country format developed to go head to head with 99.5 WYCD FM, known as Detroit’s Country King. I think this was a brilliant way to bring massive attention to their new format and pick up new listeners in the process. They kept everyone updated on the progress of the show and starting picking a select number of VIP winners to enjoy red carpet treatment with special access, reserved seating, a gift bag full of swag from the station, and Meet & Greets with the artists. Who doesn’t love a Meet & Greet?
I headed downtown early to pick up my credentials as I knew that as the day went on it would be a bit chaotic with people going to the box office to pick up their tickets. Sure enough as soon as the box office opened at 1 PM, the line began growing. After picking up my credentials and meeting up with my photographer, we walked over to Hockeytown to hang out until doors opened. At 5:30 when doors opened, we went in to get a good spot in the pit and take in the action and I was correct in my assumption. The line was already wrapped around the building! You could see that people were so excited to see some of their favorite artists all on one bill. The anticipation was contagious and I found myself really excited as well. Not only was I going to see The Cadillac Three and be able to congratulate them in person on their new arena tour with Country Sensation, Jake Owen, but I was about to see some huge country acts that I had never seen before up close and personal.
The show started at 6:30 and the stage set up was fantastic down to the pick up truck they had on stage left. The Fillmore theatre was packed with excited fans and people scrambled to get as close to the stage as they could. Being that there were so many acts on the bill, obviously the set times were shorter than normal otherwise it would have been a Country Music Sleepover! The show began as Kix Brooks took the stage with his guitar. He had a 15 minute set and started the show on a great note. Next up was of course my favorites of the night, my friends The Cadillac Three and I promptly took my place in the pit to cheer them on. They set up Kelby’s lap steel dobro guitar, Neil’s Cajon, and Jaren walked on stage with his signature sunglasses, hat, and guitar and introduced them to the crowd. When they played their latest single “The South” which has been making its rounds on the airwaves, you could see recognition dawning on people’s faces and I heard several people say “I LOVE that song!!! I didn’t know this was that band". I could not have been more proud. Their action packed performance brought the crowd’s energy even higher than before and I knew it was going to be a great night. They ended their set with the song “Days of Gold” which while written by The Cadillac Three, is the song Jake Owen purchased from them and released as his single preceding his current “Days Of Gold” tour and the crowd sang along to every word. Again, I heard people saying “Wow! This is THEIR song?!?! I had no idea” and I knew that there were some new TC3 fans in the house.
Brett Eldredge was next and while I really didn’t know anything about him before, I was impressed by his performance. I found out that he was behind the hit “Don’t Ya” in 2013 and toured with Taylor Swift during her “Red” tour. Eric Paslay was on after Brett and I had to ask around to find out more about him and found out that not only has he had several hits himself, he co-wrote Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Billie Jean Night”, Eli Young Band’s “Even if it Breaks Your Heart”, and a song I knew, Rascal Flatts’s “Rewind” I started thinking to myself that maybe I like more country music than I thought previously. One of the biggest hits of the night was when Eric sang “Friday Night”. There wasn’t one person standing still during the song. Nash FM's DJ and Country Artist Terri Clark was next. I will have to admit, she was wearing one of the coolest hats I have seen in a long time and I am now contemplating buying one for myself. Not only has she a successful career in both Canada and the US, but she is also co-host of Nash FM’s radio program “America’s Morning Show”. I was happy to see a female performer among all of the men!
The next performer needed no introduction as most of the population is familiar with American Idol’s Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, whose debut album was certified platinum in the US. For the weeks leading up to the show, I think his was the performance most people were looking forward to. His second album released in October of 2013 spawned the Top 10 Country hit “See you tonight” which is the title track. His deep voice and charisma on stage is something that just draws you to him and he carries himself like someone who is more mature than you would think a 20 year old would.
It was then time for the big finish. The crowd’s roar throughout the Fillmore made it seem like there were 20,000 people in the house vs the 3000 that were actually there. Aside from being great artists, Big & Rich put on a show that is high energy, exciting, and causes you to sing and dance along with them the entire time they are on stage. Of course, after their 40 minute set, they did not disappoint and ended with the anthemic “Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I think everyone in the Fillmore knew the words to.
It was a great show and I am happy that I took the time to see it. I used to say that I am not a country music fan and I think I may have to stop telling people that because the more immersed in this genre I become, the more I am appreciating it.
I want to thank Nash FM and Ron Smerigan, Director of Marketing and Promotions for accommodating me and as always, a special shout out to my friends in The Cadillac Three! Check out their website at www.thecadillacthree.com and make sure to get your tickets to see them open up for Jake Owen on his current “Days of Gold” tour