Vince Gill Basketball Game and Concert
Helen Neal - Photographer/Journalist
A million dollar chorus singing the national anthem, a 75 - 72 basketball game, two hours of great country music, what else, but the Vince Gill Basketball Game and Concert.
After a two-year break, while the Curb Event Center was being built, the charity affair returned to the Belmont University Campus.
The hot-handed shooters included artist veterans of all 12 games - Mark Miller (Sawyer Brown), Larry Stewart (Restless Heart), Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel), and Gill himself - as well as Cledus T. Judd, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus, (Rascal Flatts), Dean Sams (Lonestar), Brad Mates (Emerson Drive), Keith Burns and Ira Dean (Trick Pony), Chely Wright, Chalee Tennyson, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Amy Grant and Tennessee Titans players Keith Bullock, Frank Wychek and Neil O'Donnell.
This basketball game had it's own tone - the 3-pointers, the driving lay-ups, the fancy dribbling all spoke of serious basketball. But the fun and
hi-jinks - whether Vince's charging onto the floor with a chair to assist Amy's shot or Ray lifting Rebecca Lynn to his shoulders for a
dunk - said we don't take ourselves too seriously. The really determined shooting took place at half time when Cledus and Mark matched shots, the loser making an extra donation to Belmont.
For more than two hours following the game the ball player artists, and some who came post-game (Dierks Bentley, Jimmy Wayne), picked up an acoustic guitar and joined Vince in entertaining the crowd.
Hit upon hit song flowed over the crowd. And Vince's custom humor abounded - whether he was talking with Ira Dean's mom on Ira's cell phone, or teasing Brad Mates that the current Canadian exchange rate made him the high scorer, or laughing about "butchering" everyone's hits.
Even with an all-star cast, this was definitely Vince's show. He reveled in bringing the newcomers to stage, in picking with old friends, and in joshing and reminiscing with the crowd and the crew of entertainers. And in inviting Amy, his "sweet bride," to the stage to close the show.
This is one of the most satisfying musical events in Nashville. Mark your calendar for next year!