Summer is winding down, but the party was still in full swing Saturday night at The Toyota Music Factory. The inaugural Texas Summer Jam featured the Randy Rogers Band and various regional acts.
The live music kicked off at 3 p.m. on the Texas Lottery Plaza, and those who headed out early for the opening acts got to bake in the hot August sun. Shea Abshier & The Nighthowlers, Cameran Nelson and Grant Gilbert soldiered up and played to a light crowd.
The main stage festivities kicked off after 6 p.m., with Mike Ryan, who has fostered a reputation as a formidable singer-songwriter with his 2014 record Bad Reputation. Ryan played for an hour, closing his set with two of his notable singles, “Dancing All Around It” and “New Hometown,” just as the crowd started filling in at the pavilion.
Parker McCollum followed Ryan at 8 p.m., walking out to “Psycho” by Post Malone. Nicknamed “The Limestone Kid,” McCollum is tall, lean and handsome. His voice could carve right through that small-town tough girl and her overly protective father. He hit the stage in starched jeans, a tucked-in T-shirt and ball cap playing “The Truth” to get the crowd going. Midway through his set, he crooned “I Can’t Breathe,” bringing the ladies to their feet to take it all in. By the time McCollum finished his set with calling cards “Meet You In The Middle” and “Hell of A Year,” The Toyota Music Factory crowd had filled to a few thousand, making it the largest crowd McCollum has played to in his young career.
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Finally the headliner, the Randy Rogers Band, hit the stage about 9:30 p.m. Seventeen years in, the Texas music staple consisting of Randy Rogers (lead vocals, guitar), Geoffrey Hill (lead guitar), Johnny “Chops” Richardson (bass), Todd Stewart (keys), Les Lawless (drums) and Brady Black (fiddle) have already written a chapter in Texas music history.
With a song catalog of hits too extensive to fit into a 90-minute set, the Randy Rogers Band always keeps concertgoers on their toes. Opening with fan favorite “Interstate,” the crowd immediately rose to their feet and stayed there the rest of the night. “One More Goodbye” got everyone slow-dancing in the aisles, and “Down and Out” was met with a barrage of overhead clapping.
The real surprise of the night came when McCollum crashed the stage to sing the middle verse of “This Time Around,” with its ceremonial strobe light show and killer Brady Black fiddle solo. Rogers had to raise the microphone to accommodate the 6-foot-3 Limestone Kid, bringing a snicker to the already amped-up crowd.
“Steal You Away” cued the romance, especially with the drunk, stumbling couple in front of us who seemed to spend most of the show talking. A fan favorite, “In My Arms Instead” triggered PDA of all sorts, only to be topped by the band’s pre-encore closer, “Kiss Me In The Dark,” a song known to spontaneously conceive babies within earshot. The band left the stage but soon returned to end Texas Summer Jam with the upbeat encore “Trouble Knows My Name,” a song with a signature Johnny Chops harmonica intro.