Vince Gill is popular in our household.
Just a couple hours back from her annual women’s getaway, I gently reminded my dear wife Karen that Wednesday also marked the occasion of the country guy’s show at the New York State Fair’s Chevy Court.
And she wanted to go. Bless her heart.
It was a quietly beautiful night that started with dinner and a couple of beverages at a picnic table behind the already-filled bleachers and ended with a slow circle around the crowd as Gill and his fantastic band delighted the whole bunch of people.
It’s been a few years since Gill played the fair. For a good part of the last two decades, though, the country star was a regular at the grandstand. But the years do roll by, and the music world surely does change, no matter that he’s got 20 Grammy Awards out of his 40 nominations. But at 56 years old, Vince Gill remains steady.
Wednesday night, he was the perfect choice to play the free-with-fair-admission court, really.
Vince Gill reminded me all over again why a couple decades ago, he as much as anyone made this diehard rock ‘n’ roll guy open up a big space in his heart for great country music.
The man can sing, straight and true, love songs with more than a touch of soul. “One More Last Chance” and “When I Call Your Name” are two of the finest you’ll hear.
The man can play guitar. Many, many guitars, in fact, ringing and beautiful.
The man knows how to put together a big band that supplements his sound and complements his every move.
The man knows how to engage a crowd with stories that relate to his past and their present. This night’s included the revelation that his dad was jaded about love before he left this world in 1997 and the admission that Vince might be coming to agree with dad’s view as time goes by, with the humorous song to prove it: “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Have Been Chewin’ Your Ass Out All Day Long.” Just funnin’, the man so famously married to fellow star singer Amy Grant said at the end of that one. After all, Gill knows he’s not the one to take off his shirt on stage, or else everybody there would see his “summer of corndogs,” he said.
Vince Gill can just stand up there proudly, big Coke-bottle glasses perched on his nose, happily perform hits from heroes Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and be thankful for his place in country music.