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KWNR 95.5 First Annual Guitar Pull for the Kids

Adam Gregory, Heidi Newfield, Chuck Wicks, Jack Ingram, James Otto, Chris Young, Randy Houser and Richie McDonald crank up the fun for charity event.
Concert Review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

KWNR radio put together one of the best concerts I’ve seen in the twelve years I’ve been reviewing concerts. It was a stellar line-up that effortlessly ranked an eleven on a scale of one to ten.

Pictured right: James Otto, Chris Young and Randy Houser.

Kudos to KWNR and to the artists who took part for this wonderful cause. The concert benefited “Boy Hope Girl Hope,” an organization working locally to provide children with “arms-around” care. Scholars selected for this program receive a first-class education in safe homes and healthy environments. This provides them with the opportunity to learn more about themselves and receive academic, financial, and spiritual support. Boys Hope Girls Hope empowers children to realize the potential that lies within them.


Pictured l-r: Adam Gregory, Heidi Newfield, Chuck Wicks, Jack Ingram, James Otto, Chris Young,
Randy Houser and Richie McDonald.

The delightful Canadian import, Adam Gregory, kicked off the guitar pull and clearly illustrated that “country music” isn’t confined to one country. All of the artists who took part in this event were incredible but I don’t think anyone who was there will dispute that the beautiful and energetic Heidi Newfield, who served as lead vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player for Trick Pony (with Keith Burns and Ira Dean from 1996 until 2006), was a definite show stopper. It is not surprising that Newfield’s new single, “Johnny and June,” has been embraced by the industry and led to five nominations by the Academy of Country Music. After seeing her perform at this benefit, well, she clearly deserves all of the accolades she has been receiving and it won’t surprise me if she walks away with several of the awards. Although her vocals were beyond amazing, it was her impromptu harmonica playing, supporting one of Jack Ingram’s performances, that earned her one of her two standing ovations. James Otto was amazing; he dedicated his first song to his wife (it was her birthday) and his second song was dedicated to his father. He also wanted to let all his fans know that he is now a regular on “Twitter.” Otto is nominated for “Top New Male Vocalist” this year.

The very gifted, and animated, Jack Ingram took on the role of MC and playfully cued, and cajoled, each artist to perform. The informal comments, exchanged between all of the artists, was worth the price of admission. Each artist performed at least two songs and most of the artists accompanied the others artists as they performed. Wicks looked to be in utter awe of Newfeld’s harmonica playing and Ingram thanked her, more than once, for amping it up. It was clear that there was a mutual respect and admiration between all of the artists. Randy Hauser brought the house to their feet with “Anything Goes” and I couldn’t help but notice that Chris Young (right) brought folks to their feet, more than once, just by flashing that great smile of his. In addition to his hit songs, Young also did a clever medley of country songs to illustrate how similar they all are. Sadly, it was one of those “you had to have been there” things; hopefully you will catch him in concert some where ‘cause I’m sure he has incorporated that into his performances.

Chuck Wicks gets the award for most unique performance. At the urging of Ingram and Newfield, Wicks, much to the delight of the audience, laid down his guitar and, center stage, right in front of Ingram, did an impromptu dance; somewhat similar to the twist. Ingram’s immediate, tongue in cheek, response was, “I know that practically every woman in this room would love to be where I’m sitting,” and judging by the cheers and cat whistles that resonated from the walls, he was right.

One of the most poignant moments came when Richie McDonald was introduced. Ingram stated that McDonald probably had more hit singles than all of the other artists, on the stage, combined. McDonald was visibly touched by those words, and rightfully so, since there were some pretty amazing songwriters in that group and their collective catalogs contain many hit songs.

It is impossible to relay, in just a few paragraphs, all the marvelous songs that were sung and there were so many of those “you had to have been there” moments that just aren’t the same if you didn’t witness them first hand, but I know one thing for sure... if this year’s concert is any indication of what’s yet to come, you won’t want to miss the KWNR “Second Annual Guitar Pull for Kids” in 2010.

More photos at KWNR's website.

 

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