Sunday, June 24, 2012

Better Left to Chance: An Evening with Garth Brooks

 Image credit: Wynn Hotel & Casino

It's impossible to think about 90's country music without immediately thinking about Garth Brooks. Bursting into the scene in 1989, Garth became an instant hit, and quickly climbed the charts. Later making his way into the pop charts and proving to be a solid contender. His music served as a delightful soundtrack to my pre-adolescent life; as my father was also a huge Garth fan. Inspired by both country honky tonk, bluegrass, and Motown sound, Garth's amazing talent as a singer/songwriter was definitive, as he grew to change the face of country music.

In 1997, my father and I wandered into Kmart on Broadway in Manhattan, just like any other shopping day. To our surprise, the store was filled with many people; more so than usual. Upon closer inspection, behold, there was Garth; sitting amongst hundreds of fans doing and impromptu concert to promote his upcoming album, Sevens. Both my dad and I were starstruck as we made our way closer to the hoard of people sitting around the small, cozy stage. Garth, always down-to-earth and personable, was taking requests from the audience. I recall him playing "The River" and "Friends in Low Places." I was hooked.

I recently had the distinct priveledge to see Garth live in concert at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. When I moved to Sin City a little over two years ago, I had desperately wanted to see him, but never had the means to. It was a dear friend of mine who made it possible for me to attend his show, and it was indeed an amazing experience. I had wanted to see him before he retired (again) and was full of excitement as I walked into the Encore theater.

Right off the bat, Garth's charm radiated from our balcony seats. His allegorical performance was heart warming and comedic; he outlined the music that not only inspired him as a child, but also inspired him as a budding artist. Starting with the 60's, Garth outlined interesting tidbits about the music that his parents loved, the music they didn't understand, and even played classics from both Merle Haggard and George Jones. One of his many idols was James Taylor, and the audience was captivated as he told the story of their first meeting. Moving his way through the decades, we laughed and he played. Then, just as he reached the 90's, our minds were blown yet again when he introduced Trisha Yearwood. Yes, Trisha Yearwood! She was absolutely dazzling and soft-spoken up until the point when she began to sing "In Another's Eyes." Their performance sent chills up my spine, as I am sure it did for many. Trisha also impressed the audience with hits such as "She's in Love with the Boy," and well as one of Garth's favorites, "Walkaway Joe."

The hits kept coming as Garth sang staples, such as "The Thunder Rolls," "Friends in Low Places," "Unanswered Prayers," "Rodeo," "Papa Loved Mama," Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House," "The Dance," and my personal favorite, "Shameless." As Garth worked the stage, with just his guitar, I fell deeper in love with the man and his music. His musical resume speaks for itself, and he has secured his place in history. As we left the theater, fans commented that Garth was "the Elvis of country music," as well as being "American as apple pie." In my own agreement, I stand as not only a fan, but as someone who respects his drive, motivation, and spirit. In March of this year, Garth was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he has indeed earned that honor.

As I left the Wynn casino that night, I couldn't help think of my dad and how he would have loved to have been there to see Garth. I pictured my dad sitting there, with his burly belly, his bald head, and his Ray Ban sunglasses folded into his shirt pocket. I imagined a smile of ultimate content, and it took all I had just to hold back the tears. I was deeply touched by the experience and if I could, I would return. I would recommend the concert to everybody. It's an amazingly intimate and raw experience and you will not leave disappointed.

"Our lives are better left to chance;
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance."

Image source: Angie's Reviews Online

***Many thanks to my dear friend EJ who made attending this concert possible for me. No words can express my gratitude!***

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