Country Hoedown: ‘We’re all just pretty laid back’

Alan Jackson reins in a party-time crowd of 10,000-plus
By Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Fast horses played second fiddle to one of country music’s thoroughbreds Thursday when Alan Jackson headlined opening night of the inaugural Country Hoedown at Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre.

With straw bales stacked high on either side of the stage not far from the racetrack, Jackson played to a party-time crowd of 10,000-plus.

Tall, lean and about the most relaxed entertainer to ever grace a country stage, he opened, appropriately, with Gone Country, followed that — again, suitably — with a jaunty version of Summertime Blues, and then launched into a series of other crowd-pleasers.

“We’re all just pretty laid-back here,” drawled Jackson. “We’re going to play a bunch of songs and hope y’all know some of them.”

With hits like Livin’ on Love and I Don’t Even Know Your Name, it was a given that Jackson’s hopes would be met. He was playing Drive, a song the crowd knew every word of, as deadline loomed.

Describing Jackson’s music as “more true country” than that of a lot of younger performers, country music fan Sherry Horton said earlier in the evening that she and her husband, Jamie, were at the show courtesy of their children: they’d bought their mother two tickets as a birthday present.

“We didn’t know what to expect here,” said Sherry as she glanced approvingly at the festival site from a spot near the stage. “They got really good weather, too. There’s even a breeze.” Sherry said she’s also a fan of Lorrie Morgan, who played before Jackson. “She has a beautiful voice.”  Read More

Photograph by: Ashley Fraser, The Ottawa Citizen