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Clay Walker Showing How It's Done At 3rd & Lindsley

Put one classic Nashville venue and one classic country music hit maker and artist to throw a benefit show together, and you’ll have a night guaranteed to end up in the music history book of perfection.   That is what happened Wednesday night at 3rd & Lindsley when Clay Walker held his seventh annual benefit for Band Against MS and Multiple Sclerosis research at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

The once quarterback football player gave everyone caboom for their greenbacks with his entertaining showmanship – or may I say cowboyship – from beginning till end.  Before his segment of the night started though, there were two not so unknown openers for him themselves in the shapes of Craig Campbell and Joe Nichols.  Nichols was the first to enter the stage along with two guitarists and singers who also blended high pitched harmony very well accompanying Nichols’s smooth baritone.  It was an unplugged and intimate feel to the performance, which started with his hits “Yeah” and “That Girl”, and the living room concert feeling in its broader sense carried all the way to the expected and beloved “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” - all to the crowd’s sing-a-long contentment.  He also gave us all a special treat with his new single “Undone”, which is being released to radio this coming Monday.

Country music fans care about not only hearing songs about the genre typical two L’s (liquor and love), but also about topics discussing divine matters and that was proven when the famous pin could be heard dropped during Craig Campbell the one-man band-with-only-a-guitar performance of “Outskirts Of Heaven” – a song about where he wants to live when he dies.  He also had another crowd pleaser in “Fish”, which plays with metaphors that plant themselves in your imagination.

For the main attraction of the night nothing was spared in visuals and musical and entertaining excellence.  Clay Walker is high energy personified and gave 3rd & Lindsley’s music lovers a show leaving everyone feeling they just went to an arena concert complete with background videos and all.  His musicians had fun on stage too and looked like they were playing each song for the very first time.  

That Walker was rockin’ da house is a clear understatement, because there was not a soul in the room whose attention he did not get.  Walker started his high powered one and a half hour set out with “Little Miss Whiskey” and “Live, Laugh, Love”, which turned the party up seven notches in an instant.  Then the crowd did not miss a beat singing the entire chorus of “If I Could Make A Living”, because even when the band completely stopped playing, the audience was on time and in tune.  An audience by the way that was comprised of mostly Nashvillians, but Californians and Buckeyes (Ohioans) cheerfully acknowledged their presence too when the hosts Tige and Daniel from the radio station The Big 98 asked before the show started.  Many of the attendees were huge Clay Walker fans which was proven when the Beaumont, Texas native started throwing merchandise out and one lady caught a t-shirt and held it fondly - hugging it as if embracing a loved one.  Another gentleman by the front of the stage was rewarded with a towel after he emphatically sang along with and distinctively waved his arm to reinforce every word of “What’s It To You”, Walker’s first no. one hit song.  The entire show felt like one, big chain of hit songs – and was too, because he has so far had eleven songs that have reached number one.  Not one hit can be mentioned above the other, really, but when Walker sang “Live Until I Die”, that song in its MS benefit context took on a deeper meaning, especially since Walker himself was diagnosed with MS in 1996.  He had some special, invited VIP guests as well, where one was a doctor from Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt’s MS research is one of the beneficiaries of the benefit.  All in all, the night of Texas showmanship ended with everyone in a great mood and I could even hear voices singing Clay Walker songs out on the streets of Nashville as the crowd went to their respective cars, taxis, shuttles, homes or into the buzzing Nashville night.

Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine

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