February 21, 2024

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Scotty McCreery proves country is in good hands in West Virginia

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By Dave Parsons

 

The first time I heard the name Scotty McCreery was when he won Season 10 of American Idol. He was all of 17 years old, and he spent the next few years trying to get a radio hit.  Meanwhile, his worked his charisma and youth into a steady stream of live concert dates for the last decade or so. 

McCreery brought the 2023 edition of his tour to the Capitol Theater in Wheeling, WV and the December 1 crowd was ready for his brand of country music. McCreery appeared dead center at the top of the stage riser, where most acts have their drummer set up.  McCreedy stepped in front of the pedal steel guitar players spot, and started the show with an acoustic half of “In Between” before walking down the steps and spending the rest of the show within arms reach of the pit seats.

McCreery weaved a number of his hits, including “It Matters To Her” and “Feelin’ It” in between his latest single “Cab In A Solo” and a rocking rendition of the Brooks And Dunn hit “She’s Not The Cheating Kind”.

McCreery confessed to “calling an audible” to the preplanned setlist about half way through his 80-minute set.  Acknowledging the song will be on a 2023 Holiday TV special later in the month, McCreery did a Christmas song that had not been released yet, called “Feel Like The Holidays”. Throwing the second audible at the band, and confessing his desire at a young age to be Elvis, McCreery treated the crowd to the Presley hit “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”

There are two very notable elements of McCreery’s set. One is that his songs echo back to the days when most country songs told a story. Being a songwriter, McCreery takes the time to explain how some of the songs he has recorded came to be.  He told the story of proposing to his wife which led to his hit song, “This Is It.”  

A few songs later, he explained that his desire to be Elvis was overshadowed by his desire to sing songs like George Strait, which led into Strait’s iconic “Check Yes Or No”, with the audience enthusiastically singing the song with him.  It was a perfect intro to his explaining that he never thought he would get to write and record a song about his music mentor, and then doing a fan favorite called “Damn Strait”.

“You Time”, one of his radio hits, closed out the regular portion of his show, and after returning to the stage for an encore, McCreery launched into the story of writing “Five More Minutes”, and how it reminded him of his late grandfather who was from West Virginia. Most of the audience was already going through emotions to the lyrics of the song by the time he got to the last verse.  His voice cracking, McCreery said “Nights like this being where he was from, this last verse Is tough.”  

McCreery, and the crowd, cried their way through the last verse and chorus together.  

Stating he usually says good night at this point, McCreery reached for whatever energy the crowd had left and launched into a medley of classic country songs.  McCreery prefaced the first song, Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’”, by stating that these classic songs don’t get performed as much anymore, and that is the second notable element in McCreery’s set.

In between the songs he has success with as an artist, and usually as a songwriter as well, there were cover versions of songs by 90’s country artists like Brooks and Dunn, and John Michael Montgomery as well as the already mentioned George Strait.  In the second encore, the medley covered several decades by including Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever Amen”, Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, and Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee”. 

The crowd knew every word to these classic songs as much as they did the “hits” they came to hear. When you realize some of those songs were out before McCreery was even born, he has clearly done his homework on how to connect with his audience. He was barely 17 years old when he was thrust into the spotlight via his win on American Idol, and honestly it’s a wonder the business didn’t swallow him up like it did so many others.  He seems to have found that just being himself on the stage is endearing. 

With the combination of a real country music band, (hence the steel guitar), writing and recording songs that tell a story, mixing in the classic covers, and his talent for telling as story, it is safe to say that country music is in good hands with Scotty McCreery.

Hailed as “country music’s next rising star” by Billboard Magazine, Dylan Schneider opened the show for Scotty McCreery. Doing a brief 7 song, 30 minute opening turn, Schneider included his fan favorite hits “Two Black X’s”, and “How to Country”, Schneider set the tone for the evening.  

Working both sides of the stage, and making eye contact with as many audience members as he could, Schneider let his music do the speaking for him, touching on his songwriter success as well by including Dustin Lynch’s Top 5 hit song “Momma’s House” which he helped to co-write.  

The audience had the most response to his last single, “Ain’t Missing You” and his rocking closer, “How Does It Sound” left the audience knowing that Dylan Schneider will be around for many years to come.

UPDATE:  48 hours after this concert, Scotty McCreery was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, further solidifying my comment that country music is in good hands with Scotty McCreery.  

 

 

Photo Gallery : Dylan Schneider – Capitol Theatre (12.01.2023)

 

Photo Gallery : Scott McCreery – Capitol Theatre (12.01.2023)

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