Originally created 08/08/03

Ramblin' Rhodes: Country star had fans restless

It's been a while since I've seen a so-called star treat fans as badly and put on such a poor show as Tanya Tucker did Aug. 2 in Newberry, S.C.

Tickets cost $37.50 for the matinee concert at the Newberry Opera House. The concert was supposed to start at 3 p.m., but the audience wasn't allowed in until well past the hour because the band was still doing a sound check. They had to travel only a couple of hours to Newberry from Myrtle Beach, S.C., where they had played the previous night at the Alabama Theatre, so there was no excuse for that late setup.

The band, which started playing at 3:30 p.m., was obviously pickup musicians, because the bandleader kept calling out chord changes to other band members. Very unprofessional.When the bandleader told the audience, most of whom had been waiting in the theater lobby since 2:30, "We're going to play you some warmup numbers," one person in audience shouted, "We're already warmed up!"

They played five songs before Ms. Tucker finally walked on stage at 3:52 p.m. She looked pretty in a simple blouse and pants as she launched into her hit single Some Kind of Trouble.

Boy, was that an appropriate choice!

She never apologized nor gave an explanation to the audience for her tardiness. She did say that she had "partied" in Myrtle Beach the night before. She also said, looking at her watch, that 3 p.m. usually was when she was waking up.

She was on stage only one hour with no intermission like the opera house usually has, which cost the facility concession income.

She was in decent vocal form and went fairly flawlessly through her Las Vegas-style choreography, but it took half her show before she was up to expected speed.

Rather than coming across as a polished, veteran performer, she sounded and acted like a performer in a country music theme-park show. But that's not a really fair comment, because I've seen much better at Six Flags, Dollywood and Opryland.

She turned her classic ballad Two Sparrows in a Hurricane into what someone described as "a yee-haw song." She did turn in some excellent renditions of Lizzie and the Rainman, and her recent single, which bombed on the charts, A Memory Like I'm Gonna Be.

She told the audience that she had split with her fiance, Jerry Laseter, who wrote A Memory Like I'm Gonna Be (very prophetic), and who co-produced her last album.

For the conclusion, she sang a weak version of her career-making single Delta Dawn. She held the microphone out to the audience to sing the chorus, but that was a mistake because the audience sang back even weaker.

After the show, she kept about 35 die-hard fans waiting another 45 minutes by her merchandise table before appearing to sign autographs and take photos with them.

I have always defended Miss Tucker as someone who is creatively different and individualistic. Don't expect that from me anymore.

MORE HOPE: Last week I wrote about Bob Hope's 1972 visit to Augusta. Retired Augusta architect Lowery Stulb called to say that the comedian had made an earlier appearance in the city. Sure enough, a check of the Web site augustaarchives.com revealed he was here Jan. 19, 1949, with Doris Day and Irene Ryan, who later played Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 32 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at don.rhodes@morris.com.


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