TIFTON — “I love telling stories,” said Vince Gill in between songs to a sold out crowd of over 2000. And tell stories he did.
An Evening with Vince Gill, hosted by Six String Southern Productions, McAlpin Entertainment and Budweiser, displayed the artist’s long repertoire of hits and his ability to engage the audience.
The mood for the evening was lighthearted and comical with Gill telling stories and jokes, many in the form of witty responses to attendees.
After hearing someone in the audience profess her love for him, Gill responded, “I love you right back, but if you ever smell my feet though, you’d probably change your mind.”
During the first set, Gill switched guitars numerous times prompting one audience member to yell, "How many do you have?" He laughingly replied, “I got a helluva lot of guitars, I play them for a living if you haven’t noticed.”
Carrying on the banter, Gill informed the crowd about his love of six-strings. ”I can write them off on my taxes and I use them for my living. I don’t have another house anywhere, or extra cars or a boat. I just have old guitars, that’s all,” he said.
Having recently won his 21st Grammy, more than any other male country music artist, Gill sees himself as standing on the shoulders of giants. He played several songs paying homage to two of his idols, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
“The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Fighting Side of Me” by Haggard had the audience singing along.
When Gill started into “Together Again” by Owens, the emotion in the crowd was intense, particularly when the steel guitar chimed in between lyrics.
After playing the medley of Haggard and Owens tunes, an audience member yelled, “Play something for The Possum,” referring to country legend George Jones.
Gill replied, “Alright, I’ll play something for The Possum.”
This led to Gill reminiscing about going on the road with George Jones and Conway Twitty. Jones nicknamed Gill “Sweet Pea” on the tour and fed him ravioli on his tour bus.
The band took a break and Gill grabbed an acoustic guitar, perched on a stool and began the intimate portion of the set. It was during this time Gill told of how he came to be a musician watching his dad fiddle around with a guitar. One day, his dad showed him a G, C and D chord. The rest is history.
“Those three chords took me around the world,” Gill said.
In a touching display of music and emotion, Gill used those three chords to play a song he had written about his father who passed away in 1997.
The band returned after what Gill jokingly called their union enforced potty break and picked up where they had left off.
The audience heard many of his classic hits and several tunes off of his newest record, “My Last Bad Habit.”
The title for this album stemmed from a conversation he had with a friend who said he was doing well and down to his last bad habit. When Gill asked could he use that for his record, the friend replied, “Sure. It probably won’t sell anyway.”
Many of them sold during the evening.
In the audience were local individuals as well as people who came from as far away as Alabama and South Carolina.
Cindy Barber of Tifton, commenting on the intimate nature of the evening, said, “I loved when the band took a break and he was just one on one, just him and his guitar and us,” said Cindy Barber of Tifton. “It seemed like we were in a little private concert. I loved his stories. It was really funny and who knew Vince Gill was funny?”
The length of which Gill played, a nonstop 2.5 hours, impressed many.
Ronnie Greer of Tifton said, “I think it was awesome,” said Ronnie Greer of Tifton. “I don’t know how else to explain it. It was fantastic.”
The packed house was remarkable to co-sponsor Austin McAlpin.
“It’s very humbling to have people from all over the southeast come to the show. To be able to stand at the back and look at a sold out show, it’s just humbling,” he said. Planning to bring more artists to Tifton, including Dwight Yoakam in November, McAlpin is glad the area has been supportive of his efforts.
“It speaks a lot about Tifton and the surrounding communities that appreciate the caliber of artists like Vince Gill to come out and support us.”