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Country rockers wow the crowd



Published: Mon, September 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



It was a high-energy performance, and the audience kept right in step.

By AMANDA GARRETT

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- Country rock act Montgomery Gentry had fans buzzing before and after they hit the stage at the Canfield Fair on Sunday night.

A sold-out crowd of fairgoers in the grandstand eagerly awaited the arrival of their honky-tonk heroes, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry.

Self-described "big country music fans" Justina Rachella, 20, and Molly Hewitson, 19, both of Boardman, were looking forward to the show, they said before the duo hit the stage.

"They're crazy men," Hewitson said. "They'll do anything."

"And we're ready to get wild," Rachella added.

Ken Filler and his wife, Leslie, of Wadsworth, are longtime fans of the duo and have been to many of their concerts. Ken said he enjoys Montgomery Gentry's rocking interpretation of country music.

"I like their music, I like their style," he said. "They're not politically correct. They say what's on their mind."

Leslie said she liked the Kentucky duo's "high energy."

"They play really well," she said. "Their songs sound just like their records."

Crowd response

When Montgomery and Gentry hit the stage at 9:30 p.m., they didn't disappoint the enthusiastic crowd.

"Are you ready to rock?" Gentry asked.

"Yes," the crowd roared back.

The roar got louder and more unanimous after Gentry's next question: "Are you ready for some hell-raisin'?" he said.

Emily Calhoon, 18, of East Liverpool, and Natalie Zwingler, 17, of Salem, said they were enjoying the high-energy concert.

"They never stop moving, and I like that they're not afraid to be patriotic," Calhoon said after the duo performed a routine dedicated to the troops.

Montgomery Gentry's popularity is at an all-time high, with hit singles like "Hillbilly Shoes," "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm," "Lonely and Gone" and "She Couldn't Change Me."

Show opener Blake Shelton, a 28-year-old from Ada, Okla., was also popular with the crowd.

"He has a really good stage personality," Hewitson said.

Background on opener

Shelton released his debut album in July 2001 and scored his first No. 1 hit, "Austin." The self-titled debut spawned another hit, "Ol' Red," and the album was certified gold.

The first single, "The Baby," from his second album "The Dreamer," went to the top of the singles chart for three weeks and fans helped propel the video for "Heavy Liftin'" to the No. 1 spot on GAC's weekly Top 20 Country Countdown, according to the singer's biography.

Shelton rolled out his familiar hits, but he also debuted a song from his new album, which will be released in 2007.

"I haven't released an album in four years," he said. "It's been so long that I got worried that the songs might suck, so I thought I'd try one out on y'all."

Judging from the crowd's reaction, "The More I Drink," which is about the time-honored country music theme of drinking to drive the blues away, will be a hit.

agarrett@vindy.com




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