The fourth annual Golf & Guitars went off without any major hitches once we put up last minute circus tents to protect concert-goers from the unexpected winter storm that blew into town on Tuesday, May 17th. Sixteen major-label country music artists and groups attended the event and provided over 4-1/2 hours of live country music in a venue setting unlike anything else you will find in the Sacramento-area. Artists included:
Love & Theft
Jason Michael Carroll
Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart
The Dirt Drifters
The concert was spectacular. Jack Ingram returned as our host and performed songs throughout the night between his introductions for the other artists. His hits included “Barefoot and Crazy” and “Love You”. Clay Walker decided to rename our co-sponsor KNCI “Clay-NCI” and Ira Dean took that one step further, calling the station “Clay-NC-Ira”. That has a nice ring to it, I think!
The first artist to take the stage was Julie Roberts who was accompanied by our friend, Chris Roberts, formerly of One Flew South, on guitar. Chris is bound and determined to win our golf tournament one of these years. Since Deana Carter and her team won this year, I have my fingers crossed that Chris will be back again next year to try to claim the title. Julie has a new CD coming out at the end of May and we heard a couple of new songs as well as some all time favorites, including her hit “Break Down Here”.
John Berry is a familiar face for Golf and Guitars and he performed several songs including “Your Love Amazes Me” with his wife of 25 years, Robin.
Ty Herndon was feeling under the weather and wasn’t able to join his foursome for golf earlier in the day, but he was feeling better by nightfall and took the stage to entertain the crowd.
Why do we host Golf and Guitars? Simply stated – it is all about the kids. The money raised from the event goes to support two Sacramento-area children’s charities and 100% of the net proceeds for 2011 are split between the Morton Golf Foundation and the Keaton Raphael Memorial for Neuroblastoma. The Keaton Raphael Memorial holds a special place in our hearts because neuroblastoma has touched the family of one of our own employees whose son is both a Morton Golf Foundation member and who has also personally received support from the Keaton Raphael Memorial. To help raise funds, we hosted a silent auction with tons of memorabilia, including guitars signed by all of the performing artists, rounds of golf at local area golf courses, and more autographed memorabilia from some of the biggest names in country music, including Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill and more. Our co-sponsor, KNCI, was a large contributor to the silent auction. The Morton Golf Foundation Kids went through the crowd selling raffle tickets for another giveaway – an electric guitar signed by all of the performing artists. Here is a picture of our winner!
New for 2011, PowerBilt sponsored $10000 worth of scholarships for Golf and Guitars that were handed out to several Sacramento-area high school seniors in $1000 and $2000 increments. Kudos to PowerBilt for their generous donation!
Ira Dean hopped up on stage after the scholarship presentations. Ira used to be a member of Trick Pony and is now an accomplished songwriter. He sang his song “One in Every Crowd” which Montgomery Gentry recorded as well as the song he wrote for Gary Allan, “Feeling Like That”. I have to say that Ira had the coolest pants on the entire golf course during his round and I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of them!
The winners of the second season of Can You Duet, Steel Magnolia were next on stage where they performed a few songs, including their Top 10 hit, “Keep On Lovin’ You”. Meghan looked radiant on stage.
Love and Theft wowed the crowd with their rendition of “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong” which Stephen Barker Liles wrote for Martina McBride. We also heard their smash hit “Runaway” before Bryan White hopped up on stage for one of the early surprises of the night. Bryan wrote one of the songs due to come out on Love and Theft’s new album and we got an early sneak peak at the new music Tuesday night. The new song is called, “Amen”. This is Love and Theft’s third time performing at Golf and Guitars – I am hopeful they will come back again next year! I know they like to golf.
Bryan White is a huge supporter of Golf and Guitars and we consider it an honor that he came back again this year – and he brought Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart with him too! Bryan started out his segment with “Love is the Right Place.” This song was easily recognizable by the crowd, and everyone was singing along and clapping their hands. Just as he has proven over the last two decades, he puts on a memorable show.
Following Bryan on the stage was Larry Stewart from Restless Heart. Restless Heart had six number one hits in the ’80s and ’90s and we got to hear a couple of them Tuesday night, including “I’ll Still Be Loving You” and “The Bluest Eyes in Texas”. I love that Golf & Guitars is a combination of current hits, new releases and classic hits. There is something for everyone and yet, the show isn’t trying to pander to everyone’s tastes. Golf and Guitars is about music – a genuine LOVE for country music and the event allows concertgoers and musicians to sit back, relax and have a good time.
Chuck Wicks is a gracious performer who is always popular with the ladies. His movie star looks, charismatic smile and piercing brown eyes may attract fans, but it is his rich voice and ease with the crowd that always leave them wanting for more. Chuck performed several songs, including his latest single “Old School”.
Let me just say, “WOW!” The Dirt Drifters BLEW ME AWAY and I wasn’t the only one! The crowd was on their feet and dancing in the rain before they got off the stage. They performed several new songs, including their new single, “Something Better”. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, I guarantee you will soon! This group is headed for the top of the charts!
Deana Carter is another icon in country music and it was awesome listening to the crowd sing “Strawberry Wine” back to her on stage. Jack Ingram and several of the other artists gathered around the back of the stage to listen to her perform. This was yet another cool reminder that at the end of the day, even country music superstars are simply country music fans at heart. Deana had another reason to celebrate – her team won the Golf & Guitars golf tournament earlier in the day.
A year ago, Jimmy Wayne completed a solo hike from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona in order to raise funds and awareness about at-risk teens, specifically those who become homeless when they age out of the foster care system. Jimmy himself spent time on the streets as an adolescent and it is easy to understand why this cause is near and dear to his heart. Jimmy is a true philanthropist and we were honored to have him grace our stage. The song that stands out most for me was when Jimmy sang “Sara Smile” in honor of one of his foster moms.
Another fan favorite for the evening was Jason Michael Carroll. Jason came right out into the crowd and took pictures with fans during his performance. Jason didn’t miss a beat and dozens of lucky fans got their picture taken too! He sang my son Taylor’s favorite song, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” along with several of his other hits. Everyone was on their feet before he left the stage.
Clay Walker was our final performer of the evening and rounded out the night with “Fall” and “She Won’t Be Lonely Long”. He brought his whole band with him and made this a regular stop on his tour. Their full sound was a perfect ending to an enchanted night.
KNCI’s Pat Still sums it up best, “Positive attitudes are contagious.” Everyone came out to Golf and Guitars to have a good time and while a few raindrops may have dampened more than a few shirts, it didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm to enjoy themselves for a fun night.
Click HERE to see our photostream of the 2011 Golf and Guitars and here are some audio clips from a few of the artists at this year’s event provided by KNCI: