by: Stephanie Pendergrass
With a lineup that included Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Kid Rock, Jason Aldean and Eric Church, a multitude of country’s rowdiest entertainers were along for the ride Tuesday night (April 16) when the fourth annual We’re All for the Hall concert made its way to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Benefitting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the concert series had previously raised $1.5 million for the museum’s operating expenses. The latest packed house no doubt helps the cause.
Keith Urban and Vince Gill served as musical directors for the three-hour concert which was aptly-titled Rebels and Renegades: The Outlaws Are In.
“We’ve got a hell of a lineup,” Urban promised
In the past, Urban and Gill have performed several of their own hits before sharing the stage with their guests. Because of this year’s lengthy list of entertainers, they kept their own opening performances brief.
Afterwards, Montgomery Gentry soon arrived and performed “One in Every Crowd” and “Gone,” followed by Brantley Gilbert, who sang “Country Must Be Country Wide” and his take on David Allan Coe’s “If That Ain’t Country.”
Trace Adkins took the stage after Gilbert, and the “Rough and Ready” star seemed to truly revel in having Urban and Gill backing him onstage.
“I gotta take a picture of my guitar players,” he said before snapping a photo and promising to tweet it, even though the shot included a one-finger salute from Gill.
Adkins’ set included his meaningful track “Just Fishin’” along with “Ladies Love Country Boys.”
Next up, Rosanne Cash performed “Long Black Veil,” a Lefty Frizzell hit she described as “one of the greatest country songs ever written,” along with her own “Seven Year Ache.”
In true Outlaw fashion, there wasn’t a great deal of chit-chat between sets. Each performer simply did what they do best. Billy Joe Shaver, for instance, walked out to sing “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” and “Live Forever,” then subtly strolled off stage to make way for Church. Instead of performing his own hits, Church opted for The Band’s “Ophelia” and a more obscure song, Jim Ford’s “Big Mouth USA.”
Before beginning her set, Jessi Colter, wife of the late Waylon Jennings, explained, “I’m here to represent Waylon, a man who personified the Outlaw.” The timeless artist glowed as she performed “Why You Been Gone So Long,” “I’m Not Lisa” and the first song she wrote after Jennings passed away, “You Were My Mountain.”
Kicking off the third hour of music, Kid Rock filled the arena with energy with “Born Free” and “All Summer Long.”
The screaming fans stayed on their feet as Aldean then arrived to sing “Take a Little Ride” and “My Kinda Party.”
Tim McGraw won the award for most elusive entrance of the evening. Walking out before Urban had a chance to introduce him, fans went crazy when they saw him dressed in a white button-down shirt and his signature tight jeans. From there he belted out “How Bad Do You Want It” and “Real Good Man.”
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the night was a solo performance from Hank Williams Jr. Giving Urban, Gill and the rest of the band a break, Williams sang an acoustic medley of “Whiskey Bent and Hellbound,” “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down),” “Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard” and “I Walk the Line.”
“If you go to the Hall of Fame, you’re going to learn a lot, like June Carter Cash is my godmother,” Williams said as he strummed the first few chords of the song. At first listen, Williams’ delivery of “I Walk the Line” sounded so close to Johnny Cash, I had to look at the big screen to make sure he wasn’t actually lip-synching.
Although Loretta Lynn was originally scheduled to perform, she was forced to cancel her appearance due to a close associate’s illness.
“The role of Loretta Lynn will be played by Sheryl Crow,” Urban explained. She came out to perform “Picture” with Kid Rock and her 1996 hit “If It Makes You Happy.”
After Crow, legendary singer-songwriter Kristofferson took centerstage and belted out “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”
The night’s final solo came from Nelson. As the audience jumped to its feet to welcome the country icon, he sang “On the Road Again” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
Urban and Gill then brought all the night’s entertainers back onstage for a rousing rendition of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition,” which included the back-and-forth, question-and-answer chorus fans can’t help but sing along to.
Though he’s unsure what next year’s theme might be, before giving his farewells for the night Urban promised fans, “Here’s to All for the Hall Five.”