Craig Morgan Live

Thursday, May 1

Jason Aldean Live

Wednesday, April 30

By Rob Greenwell

With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the week of Derby in this town, I would be remiss without giving kudos to whomever booked the concerts this year. Jason Aldean and Craig Morgan are great representatives of the country music genre to be put on display for the visitors and the locals alike.

Morgan has been a consistent artist ever since he arrived on the scene about eight years ago. Now the first part of his career, even he would probably admit has not been as much of a whirlwind as the last part. Since the song, "Redneck Yacht Club," things have been hectic for the former member of our Armed Forces. Morgan has even just recently changed record labels, if it wasn't already crazy enough with the tour and recording demands that are put on an artist.

Having seen Craig a few times I was already expecting a decent show at Waterfront Park, knowing that he is as good a performer as he is a singer. However, even I was surprised as he has even ramped up the energy in his live show. The energy was evident from the start with "A Little Bit of Life," to the middle of the show singing "What I Love About Sundays," to the end with the aforementioned "Redneck Yacht Club" and "International Harvester," which was his latest single. This cat showed an energy that matched a crowd ready to be entertained. He showed that night why he is ready to become an even bigger star than ever, Craig gave the crowd everything he had and it was appreciated by the fans.

Regional act Candy Coburn opened the show.

Even though some events for the Derby Festival kicked off on Monday of Derby Week, the real party started at 4th Street Live on Wednesday night with the Jason Aldean concert. Aldean is a fast-rising star in the country genre with music fit for cranking up the volume on a party that would last until early Sunday morning in the Louisville area.

Aldean's sound can best be described as part throwback country mixed with southern rock mixed with a little blues mixed with rock 'n' roll, all mixed in with just a little bit of pop country to make it a great blend of in-your-face music. He has been on the national scene for a couple of years now and has enjoyed tremendous success. He is currently on his second CD called Relentless, which yielded the smash hit "Johnny Cash." This man was perfect to kick-start the party.

Aldean's set started with a biographical up-tempo tuned aptly named "I Use What I Got." This song is for the ones who aren't the prettiest, best vocalists, or even the most talented - they use what they have been given, then add 110 percent effort. This roughly hour-and-a-half set seemed to race by with hit after hit, from "Hicktown" to the aforementioned "Johnny Cash" to his slow ballad "Why," to his latest release "Laugh Until We Cried." The crowd was rocking throughout the entire set. Whoever booked this show deserves many props; I don't think they could have picked a better one.

The only misstep in the entire evening came in the encore. As anyone who has been to a country show, most acts fill encores with rock songs (classic or metal) and Aldean was no exception. Now, the first song was "Paradise City" by Guns N Roses. The band starts to crank out the song, Aldean adding vocals, everything going well. But they only played the chorus, which was a very intelligent decision. All in All, pretty decent job on this one. Then they got greedy. The band proceeded into "Sweet Child O' Mine," one another GNR classic. Not a good idea, because while the band did its best, Aldean's vocals are not a fit for this song.

However, with only one mistake, this hardly ruined a great show from a great artist who will be a major venue headliner in very short order.

Artie Dean Harris opened the show.