Live music helps you feel alive again
Alabama concert provides much needed nostalgia and personal connections.
What’s your favorite band? Hopefully just thinking of them takes you back to happy, fun-filled memories. In the early 1980s, I remember my mom slipping in a cassette of the country music band Alabama from the front passenger seat of the Chevrolet Caprice my dad was driving. We listened to the cassette on repeat in the car. At home, we had their albums playing on the record player, including my all-time favorite Christmas album.
Through the years, we went to see Alabama in concert a few times. I purchased their music every decade of my life and listened to every song. No band will replace Alabama’s legacy, from the way they transformed country music to the 21 consecutive No. 1 singles in the '80s and more than 42 total over the past 50 plus years playing. I taught one of those hits, "Dixieland Delight," to my freshman college roommate at the University of Georgia. I couldn’t believe a suburban Atlanta teen didn’t know Alabama music. I quickly learned I was more country as a North Dakotan than she was a Southern city girl.
Around 2004, our entire family attended Alabama’s finale tour in Grand Forks, N.D. I was able to go backstage. I enjoyed hearing a few of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook’s stories, which included how they continued to be involved in agriculture and was reminded of their rural, farm roots, never moving full-time to Nashville for music and instead choosing to keep their homes in Fort Payne, Alabama, their home. I specifically remember Randy Owen’s Hereford cattle boot bag that night and relating it to my grandpa's love for breeding and raising Hereford cattle. Later I remember reading something about Teddy’s South Polls, a breed of cattle bred specifically for southern heat and grass.
When I found out an Alabama concert at the Moorhead, Minn., Bluestem amphitheater was rescheduled for early June 2021, I purchased tickets for Nathan and me.
In early June, when we had several days of temps above 100 degrees F, Nathan said, “You still want to go to Alabama, right?” Hint, hint, he might have been considering skipping it, but he knew I would not miss it. And more than attending a concert together, I wanted a night, just the two of us, away from work and family commitments, to unplug with live music.
We made a date of it. The good Lord knew we needed a date. Any married couple who has spent the past year at home, with more togetherness and family time than ever before, knows.
We went to a bar and grill in Moorhead before the concert and took a shuttle bus to the event to save on parking hassles.
The Bluestem Amphitheater is a gem of a facility for live music. It was our first time visiting for a concert. As we walked in, Nathan spotted his cousin and her husband. When we sat down, a friend came over to visit. Then a big wave a few rows in front of us caught my eye and I was thrilled when I realized it was a longtime friend who was a bridesmaid in our wedding years ago. We exchanged a long-overdue hug. The good Lord also knew we needed to connect with friends and family in person again.
Randy Owen, age 71, Teddy Gentry, age 69, and the band took the stage and sang for hours. The music reminded me of the legacy and durability of my all-time favorite band remains. While I missed Jeff Cook on stage to complete the “old” or classic Alabama trio three-part harmony and his ability to play an array of instruments, the harmony remains between Gentry and Owens. The hits cannot be beaten by what my kids now listen to as "country music." Yes, I am one of those old-timers now who often prefers the music recorded in the previous century.
Live music with my favorite country band, alongside my favorite person, on a blistering hot night, created a long overdue fabulous experience with friends and family nearby.
A storm rolled in, whipping winds across the stage, and the band abruptly ended before the finale songs, which I assumed would be "Song of the South," "She and I" and "Mountain Music." But it didn’t take anything from the lengthy setlist or the array of stories to go along with them.
I most likely will not hear and see my favorite country band live again but the outing reminded me of the importance of quality live music, date nights with my husband and connecting in person with friends and family again.
Find a concert this summer. Soak it all in. The good Lord knows you need it.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at email@example.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.