Thursday, July 29, 2010

HullabaLOU: Gladys Knight

One of my HullabaLOU highlights occurred just thirty minutes after I'd finally entered the event on Day One.  After a parking hassle that had me so frazzled that I almost turned ye olde jalopy around and went home, an angel took mercy on me and let me park in the VIP lot.  I hustled my buns as fast as I could to make it to the Gladys Knight show at the Budweiser stage.

Thankfully, the divine Ms. K was late to come on.  Her 11-piece band, including four dynamic back-up singers, vamped for the audience until she made her appearance, looking gorgeous and supernaturally cool in a white pants suit worthy of the mother-of-the-bride at a really classy wedding.

Two songs into her set, she offered up praise for Kentucky and Kentucky music, explaining that the songwriter of her most famous works-- "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Neither One of Us Wants to Be The First One To Say Goodbye," and "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me"--  is country music writer, Jim Weatherly.  And then she launched into the latter song (see the video above).

So, highlight?  Frankly, the whole Gladys Knight set ranks up there in the "best moments of HullabaLOU."  But somehow I'd managed to sidle myself up to the stage-- just a person or two back.  And I was so close and so happy to be there, I was beaming like a halogen light.  And when she came to the second chorus, the amazing Ms. Knight looked me dead in the eye and sang straight to me.  And yeah, I know, I'm not the best thing that ever happened to her, but for just a second-- shorter than Rick Pitino's alleged sexual encounter at Porcini's but longer than just a quick howdoyoudo-- she made me feel that way.  

Isn't it-- shouldn't it be-- everyone's goal to touch someone-- even just one person-- so much that they'll want to play that song at your funeral?  (Was that in a movie?  I feel like it was.)  Anyway, the moment was transcendant and will stick with me for a long time.

Music icons owned HullabaLOU this year.  Whether it was the 66 year-old Empress of Soul, Ms. Knight or the 76 year-old Coal Miner's Daughter, Ms. Loretta Lynn, these oldsters showed some of the younger, less experienced acts (ahem, Jason Aldean) how it's done.  Connect with the crowd, look-- and sound-- fantastic, surround yourself with an awesome band, appear thrilled to be there, and most of all, put on a show.  Thank you Ms. Knight.  

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