Jace Carlton
Performing Songwriter - Freelance Writer / Photojournalist - Poet - Author

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Ronnie Milsap
Goin' To The County Fair II
An Evening with Ronnie Milsap

  Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  August  2003

Ah-h-h-h … summertime!
  Hot, dusty days and balmy nights.  Just the right combination to catch some of the great entertainment hitting the county fair circuit.  Too many great entertainers, too little time ... Hold it!!  Hold everything!  I'm repeating myself.  Ah, what the heck, it's the truth.  Two nights after seeing Cledus I was back at the fairgrounds for another great show.

Count 'em … 40 #1 Hits, 6 Grammy's, 8 CMA awards including 3 CMA's for "Best Male Vocalist" and a CMA "Entertainer of the Year", memories galore from over 30 years on the charts ... RONNIE MILSAP!

An absolutely perfect evening ... a balmy sunset during the first show and bright stars for the second.  The near capacity crowd, anxiously waiting for the show to begin, was a wide mixture of ages, speaking volumes of Ronnie's ability to draw fans from his nearly four decades as a top notch performer.

Early in his set he sang an abbreviated version of his first #1 hit, "What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life" and shared how that song is his thanks to us, his fans, for blessing him with such a tremendous career.  Before his monologue began, though, I was looking around at the audience and noticed a couple, probably in their 70's, swaying back and forth, looking deeply into each other’s eyes ... such love!  Then I saw another couple across the way in their early 20's swaying the exact same way, also looking into each other's eyes the same way.  I could only think that the younger couple is just beginning to get a glimpse of what the older couple has no doubt experienced throughout their life together.

After more favorites, and more of my memories flashing through my heart, Ronnie's female back-up vocalist, Rhonda Hampton, took over for a great rendition of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight".  Back to Ronnie for another smash hit, "Lost In The Fifties Tonight" leading the time capsule back a few more years, and after the song Ronnie was joined at the front of the stage by the rest of the band for a "street corner a capella doo wop session" of some 50's hits.  He admitted to having nearly 3 hours worth of this kind of material, "but just try snapping your fingers for three hours and then trying to read Braille".

Growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, Ronnie studied classical music but learned so much from listening to the radio.  When it came time to begin making a living at what he loved doing, he moved to Memphis, working as a studio musician.  Remember Elvis' "Kentucky Rain"?  That's Ronnie on the piano.

From Country to Pop to R&B to Adult Contemporary, Ronnie's career of delivering the smooth ballad and pumping heavyweight has covered it all (he even performed a tribute to Grand Funk Railroad with "We're An American Band"), which explains his wide popularity among fans of all ages.  For those of us who've heard his hits on the radio and his albums starting in the 70's, to the teens and "20 Somethings" who've just begun to enjoy his talent and versatility, we all enjoyed an awesome evening.

As a fitting close to a wonderful evening he sang "America the Beautiful" with everyone rising to sing along with him.

In the words of one his songs, "I wouldn’t have missed it for the world."

Copyright © 2006 by Jace Carlton


Jace Carlton lives in the Nashville, TN area and is a member of NSAI.  A Freelance Writer / Photographer, Poet, Author, and former Radio DJ, he now enjoys a career as a Songwriter, and a collaborator much in demand predominantly in the Country genre, but also enjoys occasionally writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and regularly contributed book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

Jace is also the creator of the Change Your Stars! website and its companion daily motivational / inspirational e-mail message that's read by over 14,000 people all over the world.  For a free subscription click here and you'll be added within 24 hours.  Privacy Statement

Comments regarding this review may be sent to Jace@jacecarlton.com

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