Alan Jackson’s Honky Tonk Highways Tour kicked off it’s first night in Lexington, Kentucky at the famed Rupp Arena. Alan has toured the world over and for the last 26 years, has made regular stops in Kentucky which is the home of Bluegrass and the birthplace of many country music artists. Although it was a cold, frigid night, it couldn’t keep the 9,000 plus country fans such as myself at home to miss out on a memorable evening!
This year on Alan Jackson’s tour, there are various ticket and VIP packages available. Some of the packages include really great memorabilia for fans to keep and relive the night that Alan Jackson and The Strayhorns rolled into town. You can the different price points and tour dates at http://www.alanjackson.com/
Starting the night off on her third tour with Alan Jackson, is American Idle sensation and one of country’s best female vocalists, Lauren Alaina. Lauren Alaina kicks off her set with a cover of “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses which immediately gets the crowd off their feet singing and dancing. After a few songs into the set, Alaina picks a fan from the crowd to come up on stage and dance with her as her “Next Boyfriend”. Judging by her reaction and laughter, she was not expecting that the fan she brought on stage (Joe) was ready to dance as he did with no shame. The crowd played along with Alaina and Joe had fun with it.
During her set, she shared the struggles she has faced breaking into country music and getting radio play. With five of her first singles not making it on country airways, she began to feel discouraged but she kept fighting. Since being a little girl of age three and knowing what she wanted to do; the struggle to make her dreams become reality has been worth it. Now with two number one hits, she is still humbled before her fans and thankful for their unending support.
Having learned to play piano just two weeks before the tour started, she told her story from the seat of the keyboard. With tear filled eyes, nervous and terrified, the crowd helped lift her up by cheering and shouting “you can do it!” The encouragement which made her laugh the most was, “don’t screw it up!” She started striking the keys as she began the song, “Three” which is a powerful and moving song about her life, her support and her dream.
As Lauren Aliana’s set wrapped up, fans were all warmed up and ready for a good time. The stage was set and the lights went dark as all eyes were drawn to the screen backlighting the stage. Familiar faces to country music emerged: Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and George Strait to name a few, introduced the Country Music Hall of Fame superstar. “I’ve come here to play you some real country music,”, was the simple statement made by Jackson and a promise upheld to the fullest.
Real country music isn’t about flashy lights and smoke, nor is about running around stage. With a voice so distinctive, Jackson needed no flash. He had the style of a gentleman and an assembled band of veteran instrumentalist. From the first strum of a chord to the moment the lights went dark, Alan Jackson showed why he has had a career in country music that has topped the charts for three decades.
Jackson delighted spectators with faster up-tempo hits “Don’t Rock The Juke Box”, “Summer Time Blues”, “who’s Cheatin’ Who”, and “Good Times”. He set the tone of the night at with slower songs like “Remember When”, “When The World Stopped Turning”. Jackson also brought about his latest single “The Older I Get”.
Alan Jackson is the face of country music not just for his astounding vocals, but also his outstanding songwriting. Below the powder white cowboy hat is a country legend who is proud of what he for. The sense of pride he takes in his music is refreshing and sincere. He thanks fans continuously for the love and undying devotion to the hall of famer. The night was unforgettable witnessing Alan Jackson unveil the stories behind the songs. Alan Jackson is a superstar that is still defining country and when the cowboy hangs up his hat for the final time it will leave a pretty big boot to fill. Until then, Alan Jackson will continue to perform to sold out venues around the world and enjoy every moment of it.
*Feature photo is not from current tour
*Photo credit: Ryan K, Pike of Ryan Keith Photography