Hits, Runs and Clay Walker

By Michael W. Stout

Thousands of baseball and country music fans alike anticipated a perfect night when the Louisville Redbirds pitched out the first ball at 7:05 p. m. on June 2 at Cardinal Stadium. It wasn't long, however, before an ugly black cloud hovered over the stadium and reared its hoary head to commence a nearly 30-minute downpour. This flood would have been enough to chase away most any baseball fan, but not a country music fan. The crowd merely scurried inside the food stands like ants to their ant hill. When the rain stopped the fans claimed their seats to watch the remainder of the baseball game (the Redbirds beat the Nashville Sounds 8-4) and anxiously wait for the moment that Clay Walker would hit the stage. Throughout the course of the game, the crowd grew from a handful of baseball fans to a flood of country fans.

Nearly an hour behind schedule, the stage was pulled into place atop the pitcher's mound, the instruments were tuned and the sound guys were ready. With a black cowboy hat pulled tightly down on his head, a crisp white shirt on his back, sculpted blue' jeans that greatly pleased the ladies, jet-black cowboy boots and an acoustic guitar strapped around his neck, Clay Walker came up to bat at 10:50. "I'm Clay Walker," he said, "and I'm here to make a living Qut of loving you."

With that he tore "Boogie Till The Cows Come Home", from his current smash, If Could Make A Living. He wasted no time in offering up huge hits and crowd-pleasers such as Live Until I Die," "Where Do I Fit In the Picture," and his recent smash single, "This Woman and This Man." Not to mention "Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open" "If I Could Make a Living," and his current hit, the tender ballad "My Heart Will Never Know."

Dwarfed by the Bird? Clay Walker sings on anyway. Photo by Michael W. Stout.

Although he has only two albums worth of material to perform, Walker(un like most performers) didn't cheat the fans out of one single chart-topper. In addition, he treated the standing crowd to two new songs: "Cowboy's Toughest Ride," which is destined to be a smash hit from his forthcoming album and "Who Needs You Baby," on which the ladies in the audience would enthusiastically answer, "l do." Walker was so impressed that he said, "I guess we'll have to take all of y all on the road with us." Based on the response and the ruckus raised every time Walker threw in a dance step, a twirl, or just a little wiggle, it appeared that no woman in the crowd would have rejected that offer.

Walker offered up one of the most diverse and enjoyable performances I've seen in quite some time. This guy is not merely a singer, he's also an entertainer. The proof was apparent in his seven-song medley alone; included were fun songs such as "Great Balls of Fire," George Jones' "The Race Is On," a spiced-up version of "Stand By Me" with a chilling fiddle solo and the Eagles' "Hotel Califomia."

As he sang "Louie, Louie," Walker jumped off the stage, danced around the baseball diamond, then ran off the field. On his way out Walker slapped hands with fans who were hanging over the edge of the stands.

The earlier thunderstorm had been only a hint of the storm Clay Walker would cause.

Despite the fact that this was an outdoor show, the sound quality was quite remarkable; the air was filled with nothing but sweet music. A whole lot of guitar playing, a little keyboard playing and some mighty fine singing made this an unforgettable double-header. And Walker's tight eightpiece band (three members are Kentucky natives) made this an even more enjoyable 70 minutes.