Friday Open Thread: First Country Concert

Gotta say, without shame, that my first concert was Roxette at the Beacon Theater in New York City.  I won tickets in seventh grade.    I still think they’re cool, and it was a great show.

But my first country concert was later that year, the summer before I entered eighth grade.   It was in an outdoor venue in New Jersey, the name of which escapes me.  But I remember the lineup vividly: Clint Black, Billy Dean and Aaron Tippin.

My dad was a huge Clint Black fan, and he was touring to support his The Hard Way album.  I remember there was a stage set involving tumbling boulders.  Anyway, it was a great show.  All three acts were fantastic.

What was your first concert?  How about your first country concert?


  1. I saw Keith Whitley in concert at a local rodeo in February of ’89. I was more of a rock fan at the time, but my parents dragged me there and I have to say I really loved the show. He was in fine voice and really put himself into the songs. The gravity of the situation didn’t strike me at the time, but it puts a tear in my eye to think that I got to see such a talented artist just a few weeks before his passing. He left us with so many “what ifs” and is certainly missed.

  2. I haven’t been to a Country Concert but I have a question. Is Gillian Welch considered Country? If so, than she was part of a line-up of my only concert I’ve ever been to. It included the likes of Brian Wilson, the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails, and the Dave Matthews Band. It was absolutely amazing when DMB and Neil Young were on stage together.

  3. This makes me feel really old (esp considering the other posts on this site–but i swear i’m only 32–i just grew up with country), but my first concert (country or otherise) was loretta lynn and conway twitty at the texas rangers after game when i was a kid.

    God…I’m old….

  4. The first live music experience I vividly remember was a joint luau-concert featuring Hawaiian schmaltz master Danny Couch (I grew up way out there). I must have been six or so. You can YouTube him to get a good feel for his Clay Aiken-ish stylings, if you like.

    But my first country show was Alison Krauss & Union Station, about four years ago. Still one of my favorite concerts ever.

  5. Well my first concert and first country concert are one in the same. Just before Alan Jackson put out the album “Everything I Love” we went see him. I can barely remember it but I do remember I had fun.

  6. Although I had seen Earl Scruggs when I was very young, I don’t have any memories of the show. The first country act I remember seeing is Diamond Rio back in 1992. I had also seen several rock and roll oldies acts prior to seeing Diamond Rio.

  7. My first country concert (and first concert, I think) was the Smokin’ Armadillos at the county fair back around 1996. Hadn’t heard of them at the time and haven’t heard of them since, but that was it.

  8. a sold out johnny cash show here in zurich at the end of the seventies. as far as i remember, he was the only big country star, who came fairly regularly to play continental europe and could draw big enough crowds.

  9. I saw a number of artists at County Fairs and the like, plus I saw Eddy Arnold (among others) at a taping of the TV show HOOTENANY back in the early 60s. The first specifically Country Music show I ever went to was to see Buck Owens & The Buckaroos at the London Palladium on March 9, 1969 – the concert was recorded for release as an LP – it was Dad’s 44th birthday – so we are on the record applauding.

  10. I remember going to the country 4th of July celebrations they used to have in downtown Denver in the mid-to-late eighties. I could swear I saw George Strait at one of those, but my memories from age five are pretty unreliable.

  11. First concert and first country concert was a free concert with Deana Carter in the evening and *NSYNC the following day. It was soooo hot that day. Back in 1998, I think, when *NSYNC was new. Not sure of the year.

  12. April 6, 1990 was my first concert. Clint Black, Lorrie Morgan and Alabama. I was 15. All three put on a great show.

  13. I think my first concert was actually by Željko Joksimović, a Serbian singer on his European tour
    I haven’t been to many country concerts, since not many of them come to the UK. My first country gig would have been Keith Urban at the Hamburg Sporthalle, but he canceled! So the first one was actually earlier this year, in London, and it was Gretchen Peters.

  14. First Concert: Offspring at the Metro in Chicago just as they broke into big time. Crazy show.. mmmmmmosh.

    First Country Concert: Toby Keith, Oregon State Fair. Absolutely. Awful. 35 minutes tops.. maybe 6-7 songs. Most effort he put into energizing the crowd.. “hello all from.. uhm.. Oregon”

  15. First Concert: Elton John 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour

    First Country Concert:Patty Loveless 1997 or 1998 Long Stretch of Lonesome Tour

  16. The very first concert I attended was Metallica on July 4, 1998 – it was an outdoor show at the Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, OH. And it was years before I knew what that smell was wafting around the back rows. 1998 also held my first country concert – this time in Charleston, WV. David Kersh and Terri Clark opened the show for Brooks & Dunn and Reba. I can’t remember who even closed the show – I am pretty sure it was B&D that night … but it was one helluva good show. This was right about the time their albums were coming out, or had just came out. I remember both acts were getting major publicity for the If You See Him/If You See Her album thingy’s …

  17. First Country Concert: Emerson Drive about three summers ago. It was good enough, and convinced me to get their latest album, Countrified.

    First Non-Country Concert: Hedley last summer. Simply put, the best concert I’ve ever been to. They came at the end of a very hot sunny day consisting of four opening acts, and it was well worth the wait.

  18. First Concert – Martina McBride in summer of 1995. I was with my family at Opryland and she was playing there. We didn’t know who she was, but it was a free show. She was amazing! I have been a huge Martina fan ever since. We had to stop on the way home so my mom and I could buy her album.

  19. I’ve only been to 6 concerts in my life and the first wasn’t until Vince Gill in October of 2005. It was quite an appropriate way for me to kick off my concert experiences and, of course, the best of the six. Jon Randall opened for him, which was the icing on the already sweet cake.

    Oh yeah, I remember seeing Joe Diffie at a county fair too, in the ’90s. It wasn’t very exciting though, since he was so far away that it was pretty much like listening to him on the radio.

  20. 1st concert: Paula Abdul with Color Me Badd (don’t judge!)
    1st country concert: Alabama with Diamond Rio and Michelle Wright

  21. My first concert was Garth Brooks after he released “Fresh Horses”. I started actually listening to and singing along to Garth’s first album at the age of 4 in 1990. The concert was in ’96, i think. I went on the second night of 4 consecutives shows he sold out in Indianapolis. I’ve been to many concerts since, but will never forget that first one.

  22. :)

    Two notes on that concert.

    1.) I was only 11 at the time so I don’t think I fully appreciated yet what I was seeing. This despite being a lifelong country fan growing up listening to Ray Price records at my grandmom’s house. When you’re that age though- catchy music is much easier to get into than well written material.

    2.) MCC had a sore throat and pushed her way through about 40 minutes before she said she needed to stop. So Vince Gill played an extra 30 minutes to make up for it.

  23. That Vince Gill! Such a class act! Did anyone see him on the Opry last night? His classy tributes to Don Helms and to tradition in general were astounding. There’s a reason I love that man.

  24. I can really age myself — Eddie Rabbit at the Illinois State Fair – but then again, I was only about 7 or 8 and went with my parents — dont remember much, first one I remember, Tracy Lawrence at a place called Nashville North, in Taylorville, IL – loved that place, because it was small enough to see the artists and they always met with fans afterwards —

  25. Ok so from what I hear…my very first concert I went to was Garth Brooks at a 4th of July event here. I think I wasn’t even a year old then…so I really don’t remember it. I’ve basically been going to concerts ever since! haha

  26. brad paisley last july 2007.

    with kellie pickler and taylor swift and jack ingram.

    i fell in love with country music that day.

  27. For me, it was seeing Linda Ronstadt here in L.A. during her FEELS LIKE HOME tour of 1995, which included her doing some of her C&W-inflected songs from that album, and a great deal of other material from throughout her career. I’ll always cherish it since she is not only closing in on her 64th birthday (on July 15), but also closing in on retirement.

  28. I think Chuck Berry was my first Pop/Rock concert, wasn’t that impressed..this was in the seventies, soon after that I was blown away by ZZ Top then LYNYRD SKYNRD (the original band with Ronnie Van Zant)

    First Country concert, Sara Evans and Brad Paisley’s Mud and Suds tour. Braved a New England blizzard for that one and would do it again. (and actully did, the following year there was ANOTHER blizzard in the same area Lowell Ma, for their second tour together.) Brad introduced Sara because the radio personalites could not make it through the storm. Then Govenor Romney declared a state of emergency and closed the roads when a lot of us were already in transit..Brad called us all crazy, thanked us for coming anyway and promised us a good time and renamed the concert “Mud and Suds and Snow.” He then read a list of Sara’s virtues from a piece of paper that he said Sara gave him in advance..Sara came out and thanked Brad and said he INSISTED on giving her all those compliments.

    Sara opened with Rocking Horse from her Restless album, and I got chills. Brad and his band blew me away with blazing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle riffs that easily matched anything I’d ever heard from Skynyrd’s Allen Collins or Gary Rossington, or from the Charlie Daniels Band for that matter.

    During Brad’s set, he called Sara out and they did a very moving rendition of the song they wrote together, New Again.

    The snow was really piling up outside and I was nervous about making it home in one piece, but I vowed I’d stay until Brad performed Whiskey Lullaby. I was a little dissapointed he didnt call Sara out again to sing Alison’s part, and used a full screen recording of AK to sing against instead. It worked pretty well though, and I am glad I stayed. Brad and Sara were both incredible, in their respective sets as well as for their duets during Brad’s set.

    I’ve gone on to see Sara eight more times and Brad twice more, as well as numerous Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless concerts, and others as well. From them I have learned that Country concerts can be at least as exciting and entertaining as Rock concerts, and that Country artists are usually better vocalists, and that Country and Bluegrass bands are second to none for intrumental virtuosity.

  29. Steve, very well written article. That concert brings back powerful memories for me too. I got hooked for life on Sara Evans at this concert!

  30. Thanks David, Sara IS wonderful in concert and thanks as well for calling my ramblings an “article”, bless you for that. ;)

    I’m envious of Kevin and Scott for Clint Black, Dan for AK+US, Leeann for Vince Gill, Erik for Linda Ronstadt, but most especially John L for Patty’s LSOL tour! Been a PL fan since “Chains” but I wish I was a more active fan back in the nineties, which I consider my lost Loveless decade.

    And thanks John, now I got the lyrics to Yellow Brick Road running through my head!

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