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Sue Bush
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Strait To My Heart: Confessions Of A Practical Blond

By Sharon Leary
09:41PM / Monday, April 30, 2007

Sharon Leary is a community health advocate for the REACH Community Health Foundation and an columnist.
"You’ve got to have an ace in the hole, a secret that nobody knows…"

George Strait’s secret is out and it can be traced directly an excellent "Ace in the Hole" backup band and a producer who knows his artist very well.

Strait Truth

As many folks already know, I am a diehard George Strait fan. In fact, one might say I’m a little obsessed. I warned the people sitting around me at a Connecticut-based concert on April 26th that I tend to get a little crazed. They laughed - little did they know just how crazed I become around my all-time favorite singer.


George Strait onstage during an April 26 concert. [Photo by Sharon Leary]
Major luck or a very significant blessing showered upon me when it came to this concert. First, because I am a George Strait fan club member - and proud of it - I get special perks. One of those perks is first dibs on tickets before they go on sale to the public. I scored with seats that put me within 50 feet of the stage; however I didn’t know it till the night of the concert.

Secondly, when my mom and I arrived at the concert venue [yes, I do attend concerts with my mother] a gentleman gave us his parking spot. Then, as we were trying to figure out how to maneuver quickly to the arena from the parking garage, another gentleman offered us directions to the arena. He tossed in some tips that allowed us to circumvent the throngs of casino dwellers.

Ronnie Milsap

Ronnie Milsap opened the show. Milsap is often touted as a country music pioneer who helped country music expand from a niche art to the more mainstream, cross-over powerhouse entertainment venue that it is today.

Milsap’s music has been described as country-soul. He delivered an excellent show, and I was glad I had the chance to see another true country legend. Milsap has four Country Music Association awards, has sold over 40 million records, earned seven Grammy awards and has over 40 number-one hits. He played several of his top hits that night including "Smokey Mountain Rain" and "[There’s] No Getting Over Me."

Milsap's set included several new songs from his new album "My Life." The album is now on my "to be acquired" list.

A note about the Mohegan Sun Casino-it is AMAZING. The buildings are beautiful. No detail has been overlooked. As casinos go, this was by far the most beautiful I’ve seen – except for maybe the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Hats Off, ID's Out

There was security everywhere. Before entering the arena, I was asked to remove my cowboy hat! Ha!

Ushers swarmed the place, ready to help and alert me that "patrons are only allowed one drink at a time!" But I wasn’t double-fisting it - I was holding my mom’s drink. I swear!

And they require positive identification from everyone who wants to buy cocktails. EVERYBODY - even my mom. She loved that.

I had a few concerns about taking pictures, but no one confiscated my camera when I was searched. So when I saw folks with camera phones taking pictures, I relaxed. I think I took about 35 pictures.

Hey, come on, three of them were of Ronnie Milsap.

The Strait Effect

George hit the stage and launched into "Ace In the Hole." He moved immediately into “Honk If You Honky Tonk.” My heart was in my throat, I couldn’t breathe, I cupped my hands around my face because it was happening! Watching Strait play is so surreal, especially when one listens to him practically every day via compact disc.

His voice actually made me tremble.

You know how most women go crazy when they hear Barry White or Luther Vandross sing? That’s how I react when I listen to George. When he reaches those deep notes, I think I will truly melt. I could be talked into pretty much anything at those moments.

Hang on...a little water, please....OK, back to the show. George didn’t get to our side of the stage till his seventhth song. But the sixth song is where I let out a piercing scream that knocked my mom and our neighbors for a loop! He sang "Run." I love that song and now, a brand-new circle of people know it.

I jumped and applauded after every song. I was so-o-o disappointed that no one got up and danced in our section. I like to stand and dance during a George Strait concert - well, almost any concert.

Strait’s style of country is honky-tonk and very laid back. He began his career by playing rough little Texas bars. He likes to play a few of his songs from those days. Our section was treated to two of those amazing tunes - which believe it or not, I cannot name. But no matter, the Ace in the Hole Band did their job and most of us were keepin' the beat as the sound unwound.

My absolute favorite part of the show was when George played his new songs. "It Just Comes Natural" is his latest release. I believe it’s his 26th album. He played five songs from the new album, including "Wrapped" which is my favorite song from that album.

I was a little let down by the casino crowd. When Strait performs in Albany [N.Y.], nearly everyone is on their feet and dancing. It was very obvious who came to hear Strait and who came for some straight gambling with a musical background.

Next year I think I’ll buy tickets for a show in Nashville or Austin. I’m sure I will have an out of body experience at one of those shows.

"The Cowboy Rides Away"

Strait's performance included “The Chair," "Heartland," "Cowboys Like Us," "I Hate Everything," "Write This Down," "Texas," and many, many more hits. He played about 25 songs and most were songs that hit the top of the country music charts. His music has topped the charts over 50 times. His ability to record hit after hit is one reason he's known as “King George.”

One of the reasons he is such a beloved country music star is that he makes a concerted effort to reach as many fans as possible. During concert encores, folks line up along side the entrance he has accessed. Those near the stage rush toward him. After he sings the first bar of "The Cowboy Rides Away" he will thank the crowd, andsometimes he throws his hat to a lucky fan. He moves around the stage and shakes hands with people. The band keeps playing while the hand-shaking goes on.

To touch George Strait’s hand is something I’ve yet to achieve. I’d rather wait and get a nice picture with him with his arm around me, and trust me, I will do it.

So, are you itching to know my favorite George Strait song? No? Oh well, I’ll tell you anyway. It’s "Blue Clear Sky," and he didn’t play it that night. This particular song, along with the movie "Pure Country" is what made me a Strait fan-atic in 1993.

Here’s a sample:

"You swear you’ve had enough

You’re ready to give up

On that little lie they call love

Then out of the Blue Clear Sky…"

Hmmmmm....I guess you have to hear George sing it.

So to sum up, yes, George’s voice makes me tremble and he’s not bad to look at, but when it comes down to it, his songs reach me like no other artist I’ve heard. I think in life everyone should have someone like George Strait to count on to make them smile.

So what makes you smile?

Your Comments
Post Comment
What makes me smile is my favorite neighbor with the great smile, writing for a newspaper and seeing her on the web. All those scrabble games paid off. Great job. LOL
from: Donna Gon: 05-02 00:00:00-2007

What makes me smile? Your article! Nice job from a city girl!
from: Grape Apeon: 05-02 00:00:00-2007

Obsessed just might be an under-statement.
from: Christie Pon: 05-02 00:00:00-2007

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