Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ray Price - live in concert, 2d time around!

If the reader will go to my other, earlier blog, "Glen Alan's San Antonio", to 24 September A.D. 2007, you will read about how "I died and went to Heaven" when I went to a Ray Price concert. He sang at Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas, and I was present along with my "baby" brother Patrick.

Last evening I got to experience the great legendary country singer a second time live in concert. He performed at the Acuff Theater, which is close by the Grand Ole Opry House, out where Opryland used to be. I'd received a discount coupon while I stopped in briefly at "Coffee Country & Cody" -- AND Charlie -- Friday morning at the Ford Theater. I was glad to get the discount, and even more appreciative when thanks to Nashville MTA I had to take a taxi part of the way.

I bought a good seat, near the middle about 15 or so rows back in the Acuff Theater. (This actually put me closer to the stage and the performer than when I'd been at Floore.) Eddie Stubbs, Opry emcee and WSM deejay, came out to commence the show, and then Ray Price's band, the Cherokee Cowboys, did about three instrumental selections. Well, they weren't strictly instrumental, since Ray's son came out and sand the lyrics, but the emphasis was clearly on the instrumental aspect.

Then Ray himself came out, and opened with "San Antonio Rose", followed by greetings and then a medley that began with all of "Crazy Arms". This start of the concert impressed me, because it was exactly the same as the Floore concert. And I'd assumed that that night (back in '07) the legendary singer had commenced with "San Antonio Rose" as acknowledgement of the proximity of the city to the venue. But I suppose Ray starts all his concerts this way, wherever.

The song selection may have been similar. And Ray himself was as strong in his stage presence as ever -- despite being 84 years old and this being only his fifth concert since having been in the hospital. But I was quite aware of differences. This evening we were indoors; the Texas concert had been outdoors. This evening the band was attired in dark suits and ties (with white shirts). Very few men in this Nashville audience sported Stetsons (possibly only myself and the gentleman to my left). However, as I was leaving after the concert it came to me that there was another similarity between the two concerts: most of the audience were my age or older -- folks who would have been around when the songs Ray sang were current hits. Younger folks don't know what high quality singing they missed out on!

But Ray didn't just sing songs that are immediately associated with himself; he also sang a couple of songs from other artists. There was one by Hank Williams, with whom Ray had worked in the couple of years preceding his untimely death. And the song that charmed me most (other than "Crazy Arms") was one Ray dedicated to his audience and fans before he sang it. It was Gladys Knight's hit "You're the Best Thing (that Ever Happened to Me)". He also made various comments during the concert that expressed his love for and appreciation of his fans. I like singers who do this!

The concert finished up with not one but two encores, and thunderous standing ovations. And Eddie Stubbs told us that when he could get up to the lobby and the concession (product) table, Ray would be signing CDs and he would keep signing until all who wanted it had his autograph. Wow! what a trooper!

Since I'd had to spend my money on a taxi ride I couldn't purchase a CD and get an autograph. So I consoled myself by sauntering out the door and seeking out the Grand Ole Opry Museum. It was not in relationship to the Acuff Theater or the Opry House in exactly the manner I was remembering from my years of working at the former Opryland. But the Museum was still there! I walked over and was surprised that despite the late hour and the schedule painted on the doors, it was still open! I didn't have sufficient time to view teverything inside, but from just inside the doors what I saw was exactly like I remembered it. This brief moment inside the Museum evoked vivid memories of my employment time at Opryland. Plus it was great to know that not everything out here had been annihilated when the park died!

Likewise, it was great to know that a great voice like Ray Price could still bless us with a live performance. I felt like my cherished memories of the earlier concert in Texas got truly doubled in worth, by this eveing's concert!

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