Article by Scotti Moore
When I got asked to cover Gretchen Wilson at The MotorCity Casino Soundboard Sunday night I thought country music? Not this guy! Boot stompin’, line dancin’ and a whole lot of Heehaws have never sounded like all that much fun to me. I figured at worst I would at least enjoy watching people doing the two step. So I show up ready to leave before I even walked into the venue but also thinking that I have been surprised in the past by stepping outside of my wheel house so why not open up my mind and give it a shot. Who knows, just maybe I might enjoy a change of pace from my rock n roll background.
When I arrived I found my way down to my seat and started to think about one of my old customers I used to help at the Slick Disc Music store in Trenton, one of the few places left in America you can actually call a music store. I would knock this guy for coming in and “wasting his money on country CD’s.” I specifically remembered him purchasing a Gretchen Wilson disc and saying to him “well at least she is pretty hot.” When I posted I was at this event I got a quick reply from my country loving customer that he was there to see Gretchen as well. So I hunted him down before the show started and told him I couldn’t believe this place was full to capacity in which he replied, “It isn’t about Country Music, it’s about music period.” So I took his word for it and headed back to my seat still feeling a little skeptical.
While waiting for Gretchen Wilson to get on stage I notice a couple sitting next to me that seemed pretty excited that it was almost time for Ms. Wilson to begin so I leaned over and asked them what was it that brought you to this show? “We just got lucky,” Bob Thompson said; his wife Cathy continued, “We sure did; we come down a couple times a year from Alpena and stay the weekend at Motor City Casino, when we found out that Gretchen Wilson was playing I told Bob lets extend our stay because I wasn’t going to miss her for the world.” OK, so the venue is filled with country music lovers except one, ME!
The moment of truth has arrived, show time. Gretchen’s opening song, a cover of The James Gang’s hit “Funk #49” which happens to be one of my favorites and instantly turned this review into an intervention. Next she went into one of her biggest hits “Here for the Party” and the entire crowd came alive singing it word for word. The excitement that filled the room wasn’t to be denied. I actually found myself tapping my foot to the beat. Could it be that I am actually feeling the vibe. She communicated with the packed house like she was sitting down having a normal conversation with an old friend. Is this what country music is about? If it is then I am liking every bit of it! It was very impressive to see how relaxed the atmosphere had become inside of The Sound Board. It had been transformed into a huge party and I for one can’t deny that I was glad to be a part of it. Then came what I have to say was one of my favorite songs of the night, “Bring it on (Grandma).” That song took the party into full swing and we weren’t even half way done. After she performed “Still Rollin” and “Crazy” it was time for the music intervention to be complete. Gretchen’s next song hit home from what she called her pool hall day’s theme song and broke into “Strut” from Bob Seger and then followed up with Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded.” She not only impressed me with her great vocals, but also by how she has surrounded herself with some of the most talented musicians that I have ever seen assembled on one stage together. After a medley of incredible instrumental classic rock covers that really allowed the band to show their talent they blew me away again with one of the best renditions of Heart’s “Barracuda.”
I have to say straight out, I would have never imagined such power coming out of that tiny woman but Gretchen Wilson can belt it out like no other I have ever heard. Seriously, she just kept on rolling. “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin into her own “All Jacked Up” which led to a drum solo that would impress the best of them. After a very brief departure from the stage the band along with Gretchen returned for an encore of her famous hit “Redneck Woman” and then she closed out the night with a fantastic cover of a song that summed up the whole night, Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” I can’t believe I am saying this but I really didn’t want to see this night come to an end. But like all good things it had to and so must this article. To sum it all up, you have to see this woman perform! Gretchen Wilson made me a believer in country music.