Blake Shelton at Coyote's

By Rob Greenwell

As the stage darkened and the band arrived on stage, one musician - not the star - stole the show. Was it the guitar player doing some Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughn solo, or was it the drummer doing some off-the-wall solo that would make Alex Van Halen jealous? No, it was the fiddle player, with a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." With the tragic events earlier in the week, this was the only right thing to do at that time. This guy's rendition got the crowd's attention almost immediately. All I can say is, what a way to start a concert. He whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and the star was not even on stage yet.

Oh, yes, Blake Shelton played to a jam-packed crowd at Coyote's Music and Dance Hall on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001. Shelton had that job distracting his audience a little while. People came to see him not only to hear "Austin" - his mega-hit that stayed on top of the charts for five weeks straight - they also wanted him to take them away from the tragedy that sank their hearts earlier in the week. Fortunately for them, Shelton delivered a very entertaining show that was pure country, with just a touch of old time rock-n-roll thrown in for good measure.

Shelton is a refreshing new country artist, a good ole' Okie from Ada, Oklahoma, who has country in his blood. I don't think he could even attempt to be "pop," certainly not the "pop" country that record labels are processing out of Nashville. In his live show he showcase his roots and pays tribute to his influences on both the rock and country side. On the country side, he sang "Black Sheep," an old John Anderson tune, and, with all due respect to John, did as good a job as Anderson. Unfortunately, he got an important word wrong in Hank Jr's "Family Tradition" tune: he sang "permission" where it should have been "perdition."

As for the touch of old time rock-n-roll, he threw in "Whole Lotta Shakin Going On" in the encore. And of course, he didn't disappoint the crowd thatt came to hear "Austin." He sang it twice.

To have a good live show, first you need a good artist who has the ability to interact with the audience on a personal level, and not just to stand there and sing (with the exception of George and Alan). Check and check. Second, you need to have good, experienced musicians who can steal the show themselves. Check. Thirdly, you need to have a good road crew to keep you organized and to help get you from place to place. Check.

Blake Shelton has everything he needs to stay in the music business for a long time. Now if somebody will just explain to him what "perdition" means . . .