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10.19.2009
These Are My People...This Is My Town
Baxter native Rodney Atkins & special guest Phil Vassar rocked TTU with a benefit at concert at TTU's.

Hooper-Eblen Center Oct.8.

The award-winning Country artist Rodney Atkins performed for his hometown crowd in this benefit concert for the Mustard Seed Ranch and TTU Athletics.

Thursday’s nights performance was not only a great musical performance but a way for Rodney to connect back with his hometown. From start to finish as Rodney took the stage to the filled Eblen Center he belted out his songs and talked a lot to the crowd there that night about many things that brought him to where he is today.

The set list Rodney song was It’s America, South, Middle, Simple Things, Man on a Tractor, (Love Songs). Best Things (TJo’s Song) Talking Dirty, Tell A Country Boy, Friends with Tractors, Waster Whiskey, 15 minutes, short portion of Apple Bottom Jeans, My Home Town, Much Too Young, Long Hair.

Country Boy, Cleaning This Gun, Watching You, ending with These Are My People.

Throughout the show Rodney shared many stories and gave thanks to so many who helped this night be the success that it was.

With a soft organ playing in the background Atkins said "Thank You" to all the incredible athletes here at Tennessee Tech for helping put this thing together tonight. "You all absolutely knocked yourselves out. From my family to yours thank you all for having us and thanks for coming out and being part of this. There’s nothing like seeing a community coming together for a great cause and having a good time." said Atkins.

He went on to say that they started this year in January out on the road. "We’ve kind of been out all year playing songs from the album I recorded out on the Thompson Ridge in Baxter, TN. An album called “If You're Going Thru Hell” and then we released another album back in March. An album called “It’s America”."

Rodney shared a funny thing with the crowd about his first interview promoting his new album “It’s America”. He sat down for interviews and the very first guy that talked to him said “Rodney I’ve listened to your albums before as well as Going Through Hell and I listened to the new album "It’s America" and my question for you is how come you never sing love songs?" Rodney said "what are you talking about --"Its America" is a love song." Atkins said he kept thinking back and said to the interviewer "you know these are my people that’s a love song."

Rodney talked about the making of the new song on his album called "Talking Dirty."

He stated that song was a result of him and his wife hanging out one night and they were listening to songs trying to figure out what’s going to be on the album and his wife asked him why he hadn’t done a song about her. "I’m listening" Rodney responded, "cause that’s what us guys are supposed to say, not talk but just listen right? So she started talking, talking and talking and I don’t think I said another word all night. We stayed up real late and I wound up with this song that I wrote called “Talking Dirty.”

He then proceeded to sing that song.

Rodney asked if the crowd was having a good time? And with loud yells and applause the answer was obvious.

He went on to say he got asked a question earlier about how he got my first gig here in this town. "So actually the truth is the way I got my first gig was some friends and I were going to Tennessee Tech University. Some buddies of mine and my future wife went out to a place called the Blue Harper off Hwy 111. They had a karaoke there and they dared me to sing a song. No, No, I’m not going to do that I said. I finally got up and sang a song and the fellow out there asked me if I played guitar. Very little, I said. He of fered me a gig on Friday and Saturday nights playing for tips and that was my first gig I ever had. So a big thank you to the gang at Blue Harper."

He then went on to sing the first song he sung there -- “Much Too Young,” a Garth Brooks song.

Rodney started talking about how he is teaching his boy Elijah to play guitar. He said "Elijah started learning to play some chords and the other day a pretty funny thing happened. I asked Elijah what do you want to learn for your first song? Elijah’s response was “I want to learn that song I heard you sing before about a little boy riding with his dad through town”. Rodney said that would be great, that’s your song." Rodney said he started playing that song and Elijah said "no not that one."

Elijah said he wanted that other one and Rodney then realized what he was talking about. It was a Bruce Springsteen song “My Home Town”. Rodney performed a short version of that song following the story.

Rodney stated he gets a lot of requests to perform “Long Hair Country Boy” (a Charlie Daniels song), which he graciously performed.

Towards the end of his performance Rodney wanted to thank everyone involved for putting this event together, individuals, companies and donated equipment, etc. Thanked everyone for having him there and stated performing at Eblen Center was a dream come true for him.

Last but not least the bottom line thank you was to those who came out to the benefit. Atkins said "This was successful putting money back into this community and it’s everything in the world to me. The Mustard Seed Ranch is the greatest thing there is. God bless you guys and I dedicate this last song to everybody here tonight “These Are My People.”

Rodney then came back and performed two encore songs: "I Can See Clearly Now" and "Going Through Hell."

It was a big thrill for Cookeville and Tennessee Tech to have Rodney who is so dedicated to the Mustard Seed Ranch and Tech come and perform for his home town folks.

The concert was presented to nearly sold-out crowds, who left with smiles on their faces. Said one attendee "I'm so glad I didn't miss this.

Read the article here.
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