Country music certainly gave us many memorable moments over the last year. Whether it was new artists making their way into the industry, smash hits climbing the charts, notable feuds sprinkled throughout tabloids, or live television performances of classic Broadway shows, our beloved genre definitely did not disappoint. The staff here at Keepin’ It Country was incredibly fortunate to attend many live shows of some of our favorite artists throughout the last year, from which we brought our fans and followers real time coverage. We collectively compiled some of our most memorable live performance moments of 2013, which we witnessed as members of the audience. In reverse chronological order, we bring you Keepin’ It Country‘s first-hand year in review:
Jo Dee Messina - December 22, 2013, Casino Miami – In anticipation of her upcoming album, Me, Jo Dee Messina brought her show to Miami, Florida. In the review heard around the world (thanks to Jo Dee herself!), we excitedly reported about Jo Dee, whose vocals are deserving of a myriad of accolades, undoubtedly re-entering the country music scene with a bang. With stellar performances of well-known hits, sure-to-be future number ones, and incomparable covers, Jo Dee brought the crowd to its feet multiple times. Mark our words — 2014 will be Jo Dee’s year, and we cannot wait to watch her soar.
Kelly Clarkson‘s Acoustic Show for Green Mountain Coffee – October 10, 2013, New York’s Highline Ballroom – As the ambassador for Green Mountain Coffee, Kelly Clarkson went to Peru to learn about coffee farming and fair trade. She brought her newfound knowledge and out-of-this-world vocals to an invite-only acoustic show at New York’s Highline Ballroom. Joined by only a keyboardist and pair of acoustic guitarists, Kelly wailed through some of her biggest hits, her voice shining in the intimate space. Highlights of the show included a haunting, acoustic solo rendition of “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” and the fan request, “Sober.”
Brad Paisley at the New Yorker Festival – October 5, 2013, New York’s Gramercy Theater – This was a far cry from a usual Brad Paisley spectacle, but instead featured Paisley in an intimate setting, on-stage with only an acoustic guitar and interviewer, Kelefa Sanneh. It was much a storytellers night, as Paisley traded stories with Sanneh, intertwined with acoustic performances of both his biggest hits and some of his deepest cuts. The night also included an audience Q&A and insight into what was arguably Brad’s most controversial cut, “Accidental Racist.”
Jennifer Nettles for NASH-FM, August 17, 2013, Hill Country BBQ – It’s not every day that you get to catch one of country’s biggest names in the basement of a BBQ restaurant. However, it was Jennifer’s voice that overpowered the smell of ribs and pulled pork, as she performed a sampling from her forthcoming album, including the album’s first single and title track, “That Girl” while also trading stories with NYC’s NASH-FM’s Blair Garner.
The Band Perry – July 21, 2013, NYC’s Roseland Ballroom – The singing siblings rocked New York’s historic Roseland Ballroom with a polished and poised performance that would make even the most seasoned veterans jealous. Although their Pioneer album didn’t receive as much acclaim as it deserved in 2013, there is no doubt that the Perry siblings are here to stay with their dynamic stage presence.
Jason Aldean – July 20, 2013, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois – In one of two memorable 2013 live moments selected by our staff involving Jason Aldean, we were lucky to be in the sold out Wrigley Field crowd. Jason, along with Kelly Clarkson, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, and Nashville’s first signed DJ, Dee Jay Silver, rocked Chicago like no other country acts have done before. Despite the pouring rain, the sold out crowd stayed put, drank, danced, and sang to their favorite Jason songs, including his award-winning smash hit duet with Kelly Clarkson. Even the White Sox owner, White Sox players, and Atlanta Braves players braved (pun intended) the rain and celebrated country music in the heart of Chicago on that stormy night.
Striking Matches, Ashley Monroe and Hunter Hayes – MTV’s Artist to Watch show – June 18, 2013, New York’s Webster Hall – Although the night belonged to Hunter Hayes, the highlights of this show were country duo Striking Matches and the woman behind one of 2013′s best country albums, Ashley Monroe. Although the show itself was a bit of a mismatch with the Hunter fans not paying appropriate respect to the openers, both Ashley and Striking Matches held their own. Ashley especially shined on the tongue-in-cheek, “Weed Instead of Roses” and her version of Jason Aldean‘s #1 hit, “The Truth,” which she co-wrote.
Cassadee Pope – June 8, 2013, Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, Florida – Cassadee Pope took the world by storm during Season 3 of The Voice as a member of Team Blake. Soon after being crowned “The Voice,” Cassadee hit the road with vocal superstar trio, Rascal Flatts. At her hometown show (which was featured on CMT’s Frame By Frame), Cassadee shared her talents with her family, friends, and fans. Witnessing this young artist catapult into stardom and return to her roots for the first time in a large venue was an absolute privilege, as Cassadee wow’ed her hometown with her stunning vocals and gave us just a small glimpse of what is yet to come.
Blake Shelton – iHeart Radio Show – March 27, 2013, iHeartRadio Theater – To go with the release of Based On a True Story…, Blake took the stage for iHeartRadio. The show was streamed online and included Blake’s biggest hits combined with some of his newer tracks. Definite crowd-favorites included sing-along performances of “Austin,” “Honey Bee,” and “Old Red.”
Jason Aldean – March 2, 2013, Madison Square Garden – It’s not every day that a country artist headlines New York’s legendary, Madison Square Garden. Joined by Thomas Rhett and Jake Owen, Jason owned MSG with his biggest hits, as the audience sang along and hung on to every word. Although he sang some of his newer hits, set list highlights included “Big Green Tractor” and “Amarillo Sky.”
Miranda Lambert – January 26, 2013 – Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City – Although there were no low points in Miranda Lambert’s performance at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall during the first leg of her Rocked and Reloaded Tour (with Dierks Bentley), it was her performance of “Over You” that left us speechless that night. Performing on the one year anniversary of the death of her childhood friend, Mark Adams, tears streamed down Miranda’s cheeks as she held the microphone out to the audience to help her through the song. And help her they did, singing back each word of “Over You” in a moment that gives me chills just thinking about it.
We bid adieu to a fabulous year of country music and eagerly look toward 2014. Country music continues to make huge strides as the years progress, and it is foreseeable that the next year will be filled with landmark tours, chart-topping albums/singles, and the continuance of country music flourishing as a whole. What were some of your most memorable concert moments of 2013, and what are you most looking forward to in the 2014 country concert circuit?