Small Town Southern Power
Singer Alan Jackson Brings People In
HARRISONBURG — Country music legend Alan Jackson has certainly earned the power to get people to do whatever it takes to see him.
For his concert at the Rockingham County Fair on Wednesday, some gave dinner not too long after 4 p.m. a try, to avoid the logjam of cars and ticket holders before the 7:30 p.m. opening act of Kellie Pickler.
Some drove from Berryville, bypassing a night at their own Clarke County Fair to take in one about 80 miles south.
And others pulled off a surprise on their unsuspecting father, driving two hours from Richmond.
Harrisonburg resident Rob Preston, 51, used to sing Jackson’s songs to his children, Robert, 25, and Grace, 23. One popular tune, “Drive,” talks about the experience of taking the wheel with the help of “daddy.”
“We actually had a 1981 CJ7 (Jeep, similar to the song) that I taught my kids how to drive,” Preston said. “When that song came out, it was pretty cool that we had gone through the same experience.”
He didn’t know his wife, Katherine, had orchestrated a surprise by inviting their children from Richmond to Wednesday’s concert.
“I had no idea they would be here,” Preston said.
That’s not far off on what some probably thought about Jackson and the chances he would be Rockingham County’s signature act this year. A singer with his background of 30-plus No. 1 hits isn’t often found on the fair circuit, at least perhaps not while he is still making music.
Jackson, 54, is set to release an album full of bluegrass music in September.
Yet nobody was complaining about the musician’s presence locally on Wednesday. Jackson took the grandstand stage to what appeared as a capacity crowd of 7,000 shortly before 9 p.m., following Pickler, who showed off some of the vocals that garnered her a sixth-place finish on “American Idol” in 2006.
Earlier this year, she won “Dancing With the Stars.”
Jackson, meanwhile, doesn’t come off as the type ready for reality television. The fact his “Small Town Southern Man” demeanor — that’s one of his most popular hits — and his music hasn’t changed since he came on the country scene in the early 1990s is what wins over many fans.
“That’s what we love about him,” Lexington resident Teresa Crouch said. “He keeps it country.”
Fans of some male country acts today are impressed by a singer’s physique as much as his music. Jackson may have had some “sex symbol” in him at one point, too, though.
“For us old ladies?” said Harrisonburg resident Writa Hill, who is in her 60s. “I think he’s a very, very handsome young man.”
Early on in Wednesday’s concert, Jackson urged the crowd to enjoy itself in whatever manner it saw fit — whether it be sitting down to relax or grabbing a beer.
“Ya’ll do whatever,” he said.
Just to get there, many already did.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org