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The Dude on the Right
Some times there are a lot of firsts all put together in one night. There's that first time you, well, and that first time that you, well, and, oh yea, there was that first time for me at Skyline Stage. What a better first time than being the first time I had ever seen Victoria Shaw, Billy Dean, and Collin Raye.

It was a surprisingly cool evening with a stiff breeze coming off the lake for the end of May, but it didn't seem to impact anyone any - they were all there for a good time. And leading it off was Victoria Shaw.

"Who the hell is Victoria Shaw?" Well, I asked myself that very same question. Truth of the matter is if you like even the smallest sampling of country music you have heard a product of Victoria Shaw. You see, she is a songwriter, and now an established performer. Her songwriting products range from music for Garth Brooks, Doug Stone, and John Michael Montgomery among others. Now she has taken to the road with her own band.

She wasn't bad. In fact, I kinda enjoyed her. From slow love songs, to upbeat dance style songs, Victoria Shaw is beginning to prove that it is possible to make the transition from working for others to working for yourself. Her antics of Polaroids onstage and tossing them to the crowd (I just missed catching one), to playing on an inflatable guitar for a lucky audience member, to even wearing a Michael Jordan Jersey, all showed that she could loosen up and play in front of the crowds.

All in all, I found her good, just not quite great. In time, she probably will make it great, astound the masses and really make a name for herself besides a note on a CD liner note as a songwriter. Good Luck Victoria, but for now, it's only ONE THUMB UP!! It's a great start.

And then, another surprise and another first - Billy Dean acoustic and solo.
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Billy Dean has been sort of on hiatus for a while, out of the limelight, and regathering his pizzazz. And he has - even acoustic, solo, with but three guitars on stage, even if all of the guitars weren't in tune, some problem with the damned G- string.

His set consisted of some old classic favorites. You know, you're "Billy the Kid," "Brotherly Love," and "Somewhere in my Broken Heart," along with some new tunes. I especially liked his tribute to a sister song, I believe it was called "Still Big Sister to Me," with its references to growing up, buying a brother beer (my sister never did that for me), and just life in general.

He highlighted the blues - country style, and showed off his Beatles tribute in a duet with Victoria Shaw for the song "Yesterday." I think she ended up being the envy of every woman at the show, up there, close, and singing with Billy Dean. Me, I just enjoyed it.

And so, Billy Dean showed he still has it, and he doesn't need a band to drive the women crazy. And the guys, well, we get to hear some great music too. Billy Dean gets TWO BIG THUMBS UP from me!

And finally, with the evening continuing, Collin Raye jumped on stage for the highlight of a great night.

Collin Raye is one of those artists who I'll bet you know every one of his songs, you just don't know who sings them. As I sat there listening and singing along, I kept saying to myself, "that's right, he does sing that song."

Coming off his latest album, Collin took the crowd through a kinda greatest hits night. From "Every Second," to "Little Rock," to "That's My Story and I'm Stickin' To It," it was a night of crowd sing-a-longs, and even more firsts.

There were only a few songs I didn't recognize. I guess I haven't helped in his quest for platinum, but the song about the bottle and the bus ticket home really shared a message, and I think might have helped his sales just a little further. From the love songs to the Beatles (he again helped out on the Beatles country tribute album), Collin Raye kept the crowd hopping all night.

And then the encore came.

A medley of sorts, well, definitely a medley. I haven't heard "Reelin' and Rockin'" since George Thorogood flew through town years ago, and I don't really think I have ever heard a country singer cover some Led Zeppelin. The crowd definitely went away seeing a whole bunch of first. It was way cool!!!

Yep, the Collin man get TWO THUMBS UP!!! What a great night!

Another night, another concert or two. Billy's back, I remember who Collin Raye is, and I see the future of some country music in Victoria Shaw. Party Smart, and as always, Rellim Reeb, Rellim Reeb!!!

Big Cooter
Well, the summer is off and running and getting nicer and nicer as days go by. And what a tough job I got. I go to a concert, sit through a show by a performer that almost always does a good job and then I get to sit down in front of my PC and whip out what I thought of the show. Oh, if I could do this all my life...

Well, the show on the crucifix for this article deals with a couple of country artists. Victoria Shaw, Billy Dean and Collin Raye. We got to see these guys (and gal) on the Skyline Stage, a relatively new place on North Pier. It has only been open for one season, but it happened to be my first visit to it. A pretty nice place, a tad bit small but the open air-ness of the stage is quite appealing. It is sorta like Ravina but much smaller and a little more quaint. But it doesn't have to lawn seating capacity of Ravinia. Okay if you couldn't tell I have a thing for talking about the site of the shows. I guess I just like to make sure my readers know where to take in a good show, as well as a good show to take in.

So, Victoria Shaw led off the evening. A woman that you may not know by name or face. But if you heard some of the songs that she has written you would definitely know her work. She has written such tunes as "The River" for Garth Brooks and "Being in Love" for Doug Stone for. So she is kinda famous but not in a well known aspect.

Victoria was a fairly entertaining person on stage, but I think that she might be better suited staying behind the scenes and writing for other people. I am not saying that she is a bad vocalist, I just am not sure she will be able to make a name for herself riding on the coat tail of songs she has already written. People may just keep on thinking of her as the girl who wrote some good tunes for other people.

All in all she was pretty good but I think I am still gonna have to give her a SHRUG. I liked her in the opening act role but don't think I am gonna run right out and buy her newest album. I would be more apt to go and get the other albums she has songs on, but sung by someone else. Victoria Shaw ends up with ONE THUMB UP and a SHRUG!
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Next up on the stage was Billy Dean. This younger guy that drove the woman in the crowd crazy. And they call us men pigs. Yeah right, I heard cattle calls and woman demanding that Billy turn around so that they could see his butt. I was quite offended, and if you buy that I have some prime real estate down on the bayou of Louisiana that I would be will to sell ya.

Billy Dean did something that I did not expect from him and that was to come out to the stage with out a back up band. Yepper, he came out and played acoustic guitar for us. And I am quite the acoustic guitar fan. I way like hear acoustic anything for that matter. So, I really enjoyed his portion of the show.
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He did a few tunes from his old albums and not too much new that I noticed minus a few tunes that he dedicated to members of his family. Like the one about his older sister buying him beer, or something or rather. So all in all, I enjoyed, not only the Billy Dean jam session but the show in general. So I will give Billy Dean TWO THUMBS UP! He loses the acoustic guitar for this show and he would have probably lost one of those ever so coveted thumbs up. So good, Billy Dean gets FOUR THUMBS UP!!!

And then came Collin Raye. YEE HAW!

Finishing up the evening was Collin Raye. This is the sort of feller that you wouldn't know him by name or face but definitely by his music. You know that guy that everyone calls up and says, "Who sings that song?" And typically the answer is Collin Raye. Just an average kind of a guy, nothing flashy and nothing spectacular, minus the music he cranks out, dressed in regular cowboyish attire and only out to have a good time and show everyone else there a good time.

Collin Raye took the stage in a ball of energy, singing bout near every hit that he has put out there. It was kinda like a good nite of sitting around with a Collin Raye greatest hits CD, albeit I don't believe that he has one out. It was a kinda nice and relaxing evening that got alot of people really going. I too enjoyed myself quite thoroughly. And when Collin broke into a rendition of a great Zeppelin tune, I believe it was Trampled Under Foot but I always forget the names of Zep tunes, it really turned that country aire of the concert into a nice little frenzy to close off the show.

I really can't say too much that would prevent me from giving Collin Raye TWO BIG OLE THUMBS UP! So I will, Two Thumbs from me. Wow, a grand total of FOUR THUMBS UP!!! What a great night it was!

Summer is really starting to kick into gear and I just hope that me and my partner can keep up with all the work we are creating for ourselves. Well, ok the concert tour is causing our work, but as you can tell we are not turning any of it away. Until next time, C.U.Next Thursday. Oh wait, can't use that now, how bout TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)


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