The award for "Best Try" at the seventh annual WKXC-FM Million Pennies for Kids Guitar Pull on Tuesday night definitely was won by Pat Green, who several times had to follow crowd favorite Billy Currington.
Each time, the Texas native met the challenge with humor and top-notch performances.
The way the mostly acoustical Guitar Pull works is this: All the guest artists are lined up on stage on tall stools, and each gets to do a song of his or her choosing in rotation. Mr. Currington and Mr. Green joined Mark Miller, of Sawyer Brown; newcomer Danielle Peck; Aiken native John Berry (subbing for Chely Wright); Trick Pony (Heidi Newfield Johnson, Keith Burns and Ira Dean); and several backup instrumentalists in doing two songs the first half of the sold-out concert in Bell Auditorium and another song after intermission.
Wearing a black T-shirt and light-colored blue jeans (his typical wardrobe of late), guitar-playing Mr. Currington and his two backup guitarists and vocalists were the hit of the night with great songs and excellent guitar picking.
Pre-show entertainment was supplied by radio station WKXC's local talent winner, Chris Goss, playing guitar and singing Swing Away, backed by his father, Bill Goss, on guitar. You would have thought that show planners could have waited until the lights went down and most people were seated before bringing on Mr. Goss.
The show officially opened with Mr. Miller's singing the slow ballad I'll Take the Dirt Road, followed by Mr. Berry's equally slow Standing on the Edge of Goodbye. Mr. Currington and his two musical assistants then kicked the show into high gear with his country rocker (I Wanna Be a) Hillbilly, with the auditorium's roof raised from the screams of his female fans.
Mr. Currington, who grew up in Rincon, near Savannah, Ga., and who has siblings living in the Augusta area, has been the latest country stud of the month since he co-starred with Shania Twain in the music video Party for Two.
Taking the stage after Mr. Currington, Mr. Green jokingly told the audience, "I remember when I was that pretty." Then he launched into his hit single She Used to Be Somebody's Baby.
In the next rotation, Mr. Currington again tore up the audience with his traditional country song (I Must Have Been) Off My Rocker and elicited more admiring female screams.
Mr. Green looked over at the budding country star and playfully said, "Oooooh, Billy, you're so hot!" before launching into his two-time Grammy nominated song Three Days.
On the second part of the show, Mr. Currington sang his current hit ballad, Must Be Doin' Something Right, and imitated his sexy, beach-set music video by rubbing his hands over his chest and tweaking his nipples through his T-shirt.
Besides the running Currington-Green part of the night, there were some other truly great vocal performances, including Trick Pony's remake of the Bonnie Tyler hit It's A Heartache, Ms. Peck's Isn't It Everything? and Mr. Miller's But Some Girls Do.
Somewhat disappointing was Mr. Berry's ear-piercing vocals that seemed way too loud. His usually smooth and melodic voice sounded rough and shrieking.
All in all, it was another great presentation on the part of WKXC and once again raised a lot of money for needy children in this area.
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 35 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.