Terri Clark and James Otto Hot As Lightning At Nebraska Concert
Problem: the concert that highlights the oldest annual celebration in the state of Nebraska has been hemorrhaging money for several years and risks being eliminated.
Solution: call Terri Clark.
A near-capacity crowd greeted Clark and opener James Otto at Five Rocks Amphitheater, an intimate outdoor venue nestled in the shadow of Scotts Bluff National Monument and overlooking the Platte Valley, which holds a little more than 3,000 people. (For reference, the total population of Scotts Bluff County is roughly 37,000.)
While James Otto only recently became well-known with the breakthrough success of “Just Got Started Lovin’ You,” he has been recording since 2002 and worked the crowd with all the skill of a seasoned veteran–no doubt helped by his experiences as a member of the Muzik Mafia. His hour-long set showcased one of the most soulful voices in modern country music, with constant flashes of lightning accentuating his performance.
There was something for everyone in Otto’s performance as he mixed his own songs with interludes of Ronnie Milsap’s “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me”, the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and even “Hot in Herre” by Nelly. Otto also provided the night’s most unintentionally appropriate performance as he sang the lyrics “We felt the lightning/And we waited on the thunder” during a cover of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” all the while seemingly oblivious to the unplanned light show taking place in the skies behind the stage.
Otto closed with “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” just as rain and a major electrical storm sent the audience running for cover. The storm caused a 65-minute delay between Otto and Clark as people took cover in their cars and under the roof of the concession stand. The delay wiped out a mini-set by Anita Cochran that had been arranged just days before the show when organizers learned Cochran is a member of Clark’s band. Instead, she settled for singing a verse and chorus of “What If I Said” when Clark introduced the band members individually.
A few hundred people were chased away by the weather, but the vast majority who stayed were rewarded with the best concert to come through Nebraska’s panhandle since Chris LeDoux played the Scotts Bluff County Fair a decade ago.
The 40-year-old veteran enthralled her audience with all the energy and enthusiasm of the younger female performers who have been in vogue in recent years and a decidedly more country sound. Clark told the crowd during the show that she was fighting a bout with bronchitis, but aside from some occasional coughing she didn’t let it show until near the end of the show as her voice got tired.
Likely because of the illness, her performance was relatively short, with “You’re Easy on the Eyes,” “A Little Gasoline” and “I Just Wanna Be Mad” condensed into a medley of one verse and chorus from each song.
Clark had a rough year in 2007 after filing for divorce from her second husband, and learning her mother was diagnosed with cancer, which she is still recovering from after having the tumor removed. The same year, her album In My Next Life went unreleased despite the title track being a number one hit in Canada, causing Clark to split from BNA Records. She has recovered in a big way and is set to release a live album in August and a studio album, The Long Way Home, in September.
“I’m really excited because it’s my first studio album in three and a half years,” Clark said. “People who have heard it tell me it’s the best in years.” She performed two songs off the new album: “What Happens in Vegas (Follows You Home),” a raucous up-tempo number that sounds like a sure hit, and her upcoming single “Gypsy Boots,” a heavily blues-tinged song that currently sits at #42 on the Canadian chart and will be released to American radio on July 20.
Clark’s outstanding performance, which was punctuated by a fireworks display over the Monument that put Scottsbluff’s July Fourth show to shame, demonstrated that she is one of the top female entertainers in country music.
Neither blond nor under 30 years old, the younger crop of female singers could learn a lot from Terri Clark.
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