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1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time, A Heroes & Friends Tribute to Randy Travis

1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time, A Heroes & Friends Tribute to Randy Travis ~ in support of the Randy Travis Foundation - is a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises money for cardiomyopathy and stroke research and rehabilitation.
Story and photos by Terry Mercer
Randy & Mary Travis
I struggle to tell you which was more impressive, to witness the improvement Mr. Randy Travis has made just in the last month, which I've not seen many really talk about.  Or the fact the band Alabama was on stage together for the first time in 40 years.  Close behind was the slew of amazing artists that took the stage on February 8th, at Bridgestone Arena, in Nashville, Tennessee. 
It really was pretty amazing.  It was an all star cast, many are Hall of Famer's, all are Music Legends or will be soon's. Well, and the Comedy Legend, Foxworthy!  It was well worth the 6 hours of driving we had to do at the last minute, to have the opportunity to photograph this show, in another packed stadium.

Storm, the Country Radio Personality, opened the official concert. Followed by a Presentation from Nashville Mayor Berry, officially making February 8th, 2017 'Randy Travis Day.' Then the music started.

The line up, really was an all-star cast! The editor suggested that I just write a paragraph or two, but with so many amazing people and incredible performances, I found that task impossible (and was quickly reminded why I seldom twitter). I'm just going to 'go down the list' of people there, in the order they performed, and if there were any quick points or thoughts about them I'll add it behind their name. Please understand, when I'm behind the camera, especially behind the crowd at the sound board, two important things: 1) the angles and extreme close-ups and different types of images we normally capture aren’t there, even with nearly 650mm’s of lens hanging out there, and 2) when photographing concerts, we are often more focused (figuratively and literally) on 'getting the shot' rather than what is being played or said. We’re watching for open mic opportunities, people not having cell phones in the way, or other distractions in the images we are attempting to capture. Remember, our goal is to remain as still as possible to capture quality images, so tapping our feet or dancing in the aisles, like the vast majority of the audience was actively doing, would be counterproductive for us.
ALL OF THESE ARTISTS WERE AMAZING AND IMPRESSIVE! I've purposefully left the '*' in front of those names I've photographed before; as you can see, there were quite a few 'new to us' (well, at least to our cameras) artists, many we’ve listened to over the years. Here goes:

Bellamy Brothers - Diggin' Up Bones (recently back from a 6 continent, multi-country tour, just for this event; and as smooth as ever in their performance).

Chuck Wicks - If I Didn't Have You (working the stage, from side to side, seldom in one spot for too long).

* Collin Raye - Point of Light (his typical, friendly, happy self, full of expressions)

Ricky Traywick (He stated that while he might not have gold records, or movie stardom, he has one thing no one else on the stage had: he's Randy's older brother). He sang Before You Kill Us All

Alison Krauss & Cox Family - Deeper Than the Holler (Amazing voice, and great performance,
Alison Krauss
adding a little fiddle play just at the right spots. Yep, that's Jamey Johnson singing backup for her)

* Jamey Johnson & ”Choir” - Promises (Always an incredible voice. And yes, Alison Krauss was in his choir of amazing backup voices)

* Montgomery Gentry - Too Gone Too Long (Always the showmen... but seriously, how much gaffers tape was used to keep that mic in place while Eddie was spinning the stand? The fist bump, at the end, just before they went over to hug Randy & his wife, was the symbol of "WE DID IT!" And their smiles led the crowds roaring applause.)

Ben Haggard - Are The Good Times Really Over (Nice, mellow, and interesting performance).

Carrie Underwood - Video Tribute

PRESENTATION - Nashville's Mayor, and Tennessee's Governor presented another plaque, and made the 'Randy Travis Day' statewide.

* Kane Brown - King of the Road (Dang that ball cap, but the guy can sure sing... Randy & Mary helped him get his start. When he first started singing the song, I was thinking 'But that was Roger Miller's song... then I learned it was one of Randy's favorite songs to cover, and was not only on one of his albums, but covered again by Randy and Josh Turner. Kane did it great, but it became better (at least to me) when I learned what the link to Randy was).

James Dupre and Shane Owens - Heroes and Friends (different type of duo, but they combined really well. Each talented in their own right; but really nailed it together).

* Chris Janson - Look Heart No Hands (Always an amazing singer/performer... with guitar and harmonica in the ready; Chris plays great with the band, or as a sole artist)

* Rodney Atkins - Honky Tonk Moon (Pure Country comes to mind. Rodney belts out tunes that make you want to move, and touches your heart)

* Joe Nichols - Storms of Live (It's Joe, what can I say? Wonderful performance, and pleased crowd... I think Mary Travis had tears in her eye's for his performance).

Kenny Rogers - Love Lifted Me / The Gambler ~ (hobbling out on stage, due to the recent knee
Kenny Rogers
replacement, Kenny pulled up a stool, and performed a couple songs. The crowd joined in on the last chorus of the Gambler which really made him smile).

William Michael Morgan - Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart ~ (There is a reason he was on the stage... while he was singing, I swear, if you closed your eyes, you'd almost swear Randy was singing that song. All the old school country twang, timing, and style. Amazing performance.)

Tanya Tucker - I Told You So ~ (sparkling dress, and a voice that makes you believe in angels! Electrifying performance)
Tanya Tucker

Ricky Van Shelton - Video Tribute

Original OPRY - "I'll Fly Away" ~ (many dressed in their 'old style' country outfits, and just as talented as they were 30+ years ago).

Neal McCoy (with Becky Priest) - His Eye Is On The Sparrow ~ (ok, after seeing this man during the press conference, then on stage... I decided to do a bit more research. WOW! This guy is talented and funny. I remember hearing a pile of his songs over the years, but never before seen his performance. Quite entertaining, and understandable why he's a country legend.)

Michael W Smith - Walk With Me ~ (Had the house silenced with his "I know I was supposed to sing one of Randy's songs, and I really like them all... but knew I couldn't do them like he does, so I'm going to sing him a Hymm I think he'll really like." and he had people with tears in their eyes).

* Phil Vassar - More Life ~ (Yes, with piano... and as always, an amazing voice. Oh, and he remained seated this time, to the end of the song.)

Jeff Foxworthy over the top monologue about Kidney Stones (the video on line doesn't do justice to 
Jeff Foxworthy
his performance at tonight's show... but the crowd was rolling, and belly laughing): Especially his punch lines about interrogating terrorists, using the kidney stone removal process (which doesn't have anything on waterboarding)... and the 'secret gate code.'

Ricky Skaggs - Would I (Memorable performance, a lot of smiles, and a solid performance, proving he's really one of the greats).

Alabama - Angels Among Us with choir (when they were announced, and started coming out on the stage, the audience rose, and didn't sit down again until they left the stage. It was standing room only, and the crowd roared to a quiet only when they started singing).

* Charlie Daniels - video

PRESENTATION to Randy from Warner Brothers for selling over 25 Million Records.

Daryle Singletary & Mark Chestnutt - Few Old Country Boys ~ (solid performance, with the good ole boy texan twang, from a duo you wouldn't expect to actually complement each other, but they did... and did it impressively well).

Josh Turner - Three Wooden Crosses (That booming deep voice, toned down slightly, for his performance of the song. There were people noticeably crying in the audience)

Travis Tritt - Better Class of Losers (Happy, friendly, and amazing performance... very active on the stage.)

Charles Esten - I Won’t Need You Anymore (Plays "Decon" on TV Series Nashville ~ said 'There's a whole lot of Randy Travis on the pallet that went into the creation of the character he plays).

Wynonna Judd - On The Other Hand ~ (At the end of her touching rendition, she went and sat with 
Wynonna Judd
Randy & Mary until nearly the end of the next artists performance. Clearly, remembering her time touring with Randy, and thankful for the opportunities, mentoring, and friendship he'd personally given her over the years).

Scotty McCreery - 1982 ~ (10th Season of American Idol winner, with his first album certified platinum just a few months later. It's clear he has a long career in country music).

* Michael Ray - He Walked on Water (Aside from his songs hitting #1 on Country Airplay, and being mentored by John Rich (of Big & Rich), Michael has strong voice, that just makes you want to hold your honey, and sway. His put on a quality performance that made people that didn't know who he was quickly understand why he was on stage).

* Chris Young - This Is Me ~ (great singer, easy to listen to)

Paul Overstreet - No Place Like Home ~ (Not only did he perform the song really well, he was the writer of 7 of Randy's hit songs)

Garth Brooks - Forever and Ever (With full beard, and all the stage working charisma people would 
Garth Brooks
expect, Garth Brooks - took the stage to perform... and proved why his concerts pack houses! But the grand finale was when he walked to his right, tipping the mic to Randy, for the final A-man-nnnnnnnnnnnnn. The crowd roared! With a standing ovation! For both Garth, and the first Public singing people have heard from him since the stroke. It was truly amazing!)

* Then, Randy & Mary Travis rose, took center stage, as all the stars gathered around, and Randy started singing - AMAZING GRACE - the rest of the artists joined in, and then the audience started in. It was one of the most memorable, and truly AMAZING shows I've been to, anywhere.

Yes, it was an amazing night, with some grand performances. The images we captured are all rated, sorted, segregated (by artist), exported, and uploaded to our site: TerryMercer.com, there were over 4,000 that made the cut. The attached images are just a small taste; go ahead and check out the rest.

Thanks to all the awesome artists, Webster Public Relations, UnRated Magazine, and our sponsor MDsChoice.com.

- More at UnRatedMagazine.com

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