Over The Weekend: Randy Rogers Band at the North Texas State Fair & Rodeo

Randy Rogers Band
North Texas State Fair & Rodeo

Denton Fairgrounds
August 26, 2011

Better than: having to sit through the North Texas State Fair & Rodeo's Saturday night Tracy Lawrence concert, most likely.

​There are many things that can be said about the rowdy, predominantly college-aged crowds that engulf each stage that Lone Star talents like the Randy Rogers Band perform on. Crude, drunk and inconsiderate are a few of the descriptors that quickly pop to mind. So do the adjectives passionate, fiercely loyal and reverential.

Add unaffected-by-severe-heat to that list of qualities that a Randy Rogers Band throng possesses.

On Friday night in Denton at the North Texas State Fair & Rodeo, the still-near-100-degree temps at 9:30 served to only make the packed congregation of what seemed like somewhere around 1,500 (maybe more) a bit sweatier, but no less excited about seeing their star.

For those that have been to at least a couple of the Cleburne-native's shows in the past six years can attest, there really aren't (and weren't on this night) many surprises to be had at a RRB show. 

But one would be wrong to assume that a lack of surprise equals a dearth of delight to be had on the same token. More-than-solid country songwriting, well-oiled, expert musicianship and the confidence that comes with playing 200-plus shows a year make a Randy Rogers Band concert one of the more reliably successful forms of entertainment this side of a Philadelphia Phillies game in which Roy Halliday pitches.

Even with all of the aforementioned positives in place for the show on Friday, the set-list was perhaps the key player in any possible derailment of a good time. Following the upbeat, outlaw rocker "10 Miles Deep," the set's second tune, the evening lulled into a pace-killing string of mid-tempo numbers. Starting with "Damn the Rain," then leading into "Before I Believe It's True," "One Woman" and eventually into "One More Goodbye," the band certainly seemed to be performing at their peak, but even the enthusiasm of the sweltering crowd dulled as the similarly-paced tunes melted into one another, stealing the individual distinction from each song.

While the heat may not have been the proper showcase for a slew of slower songs, there's great joy to be had in the way that Rogers clings to what he vocally promotes as core country themes and images. A song such as "Lonely Too Long," which was played to perfection, opens with the lyrics, "The only thing she left was a tear-stained letter." In the wrong hands, such simplicity is, well, too simple. In Rogers' experienced grasp however, it's pure country gold.

With several albums under their belt, it would've been nice to see the pace of the group's set-list have a tad more variety, but when the hearty stomping of "Wicked Ways" kicked in, finally giving fiddle player Brady Black his proper spotlight, things were promptly back on track -- not that they were ever that terribly off-course to begin with. "In My Arms" also saw the band yield their share of attention to Black, whose fiddle reveled in its own chance to dance.

After the more recently-crowned fan-favorite, and perhaps Rogers' most danceable tune, "Buy Myself A Chance," the remainder of the night provided a nice dose of older material. Make no mistake; Songs from RRB's Rollercoaster album have become as beloved as anything that Jack Ingram, Pat Green or Charlie Robison produced in the early, halcyon days of the so-called Red Dirt scene of a decade ago. "Somebody Take Me Home" might be the greatest vocal showcase for Rogers. Even more effectively than in-studio, his delivery began raspy, low and slow before erupting into a pained, anthemic howl. Of course, regardless of the temperatures or the extremely present smell of the nearby livestock pens, the rightfully adoring crowd howled along with him, just as they've done for the last 1,000 plus Randy Rogers Band concerts.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
Outside of appreciating Rogers' overall body of work, not much of a bias to speak of, really. It's hard to not appreciate his desire to grow as a writer and his unwillingness to bend to musical trends that many often mistake for relevance.

By The Way: Many forget that Rogers is a major-label artist. He also happens to be old college buddies with Sunny Sweeney, another (recently reviewed by us) Texan on a major label. Judging by the latest albums of both artists, it seems as though not all Texas country acts have to take the poppy, shiny route once they sign on a major dotted line. 

Random Note: The North Texas State Fair & Rodeo seems like a great, family event with many attractions that would appeal to a wide range of ages. I've never done any of it. I've only gone for the well-booked concerts. 

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