By Charlie KriakonFebruary 18, 2018
Rodney Atkins literally strolled on to the stage on Saturday night at Thirsty Cowboy and then blew the roof off. The singer delivered a 75-minute set that was filled with his chart topping songs, and some new ones, that kept the eyes of the Sold Out crowd glued to his every move.
With lights down, Atkins’ band made their entrance and he followed, walking with a quiet confidence and nodding to the crowd. Wearing blue jeans, a black shirt and a baseball cap he kicked off his set with his latest single, “Caught Up in the Country” from his upcoming fifth studio album.
From there he moved right into his Top 5 hit “Farmers Daughter,” which is the kind of music that has drawn his legion of fans and started what was to become an all night sing-a-long. He followed that up with his uncharted song “About The South,” from his If You’re Going Through Hell album. The song was co-written by Atkins and gives an introspective at the kind of life he loves.
Of course when you have six #1’s you’re gonna bring out those hits, and he did. First with “Take A Backroad,” “It’s America,” “Cleaning This Gun” and “These Are My People.” Atkins also played “Friends With Tractors,” that was part of his It’s America album in 2009. The song offered the chance for his band members, which includes his wife Rose Falcon, to take the spotlight and create one fun song to perform live.
After a brief break Atkins returned to the stage to close out the show with some encores that included the Stephen Stills written song, “For What It’s Worth.” The song may be over 40 years old, but is very relevant in 2018.
He closed out the night performing two more #1’s, first with “Watching You” and then “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows).” With the latter he showed his appreciation to the Thirsty Cowboy crowd by including them in the sing-a-long and handed out his microphone to folks to join in on the chorus of the song. One fan threw it back to Atkins who caught it and continued with the verse without missing a beat.
Jeff Sampson with the mic stand from the Rodney Atkins concert at Thirsty Cowboy.
Before leaving the stage, Atkins took all of his guitar picks and tossed them into the crowd as souvenirs. Next, he folded up his mic stand and handed it to Jeff Sampson of Litchfield, Ohio, who is wheelchair bound and a huge Rodney Atkins fan. When I caught up with Sampson he told me that Atkins has gone out of his way before to make him feel special at his concerts. It was another reason to feel good about the man and his music and brought a smile to Sampson, and me too.
Drew Baldridge opened the show for Atkins and brought out a 30-minute set that was filled his his energy and and an infectious spirit that makes him so easy to like on stage. His seven-song set featured tunes from his debut album Dirt On Us, including “Rebound” and “Burnt Toast.”
Baldridge played to the crowd, which included a lot of his fans and had a fun time covering the John Denver hit, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” He really showed his passion for performing when he got to his closing number, and his biggest hit to date, “Dance With ‘Ya.” Not only did the liveliness of the beat get everyone moving, but having the entire band join together for some fun choreography was a great way to end his time on stage.
Having Atkins and Baldridge in the same show was a great way to showcase the best of country music and the many different styles it offers today. Atkins is ready to release his new album soon and after seeing him perform on Saturday night, I would say he his ready to get back to making more music that everyone will love.
Rodney Atkins Band:
BGV/Duet: Rose Falcon Atkins
Stage Left Rhythm Guitar: Derek Bahr
Bass: Blake Hubbard
Fiddle/Mando: Mark Evitts
Drums: Kevin Rapillo
Stage Right Lead Guitar: Clint Wells
“Caught Up in the Country”
“About The South”
“Take a Backroad”
“Friends With Tractors”
“Cleaning This Gun”
“These Are My People”
“For What It’s Worth”
“If You’re Going Through Hell”