Throwing a party

(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

Country singer Gretchen Wilson looks out into the cheering crowd March 23 during her "I Got Your Country Right Here" tour stop at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock.

Gretchen Wilson rocks the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center

By Erny Zah
Navajo Times

SHIPROCK, March 31, 2011

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

Country singer Gretchen Wilson and her band perform at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center March 23 during her "I Got Your Country Right Here" tour stop in Shiprock.

Lorenzo Spencer, 35, walked through the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center grinning after being a part of a meet-and-greet session with country star Gretchen Wilson.

"My heart skipped a beat," he said. "I've always been a fan since she came out."


The Phil offers intimate venue for great shows

Spencer was part of a nearly sold-out crowd that cheered for Wilson, who made a stop in Shiprock on March 23.

Spencer said his best friend gave him front-row seat tickets for the concert.

Buck Hamilton, 41, of Waterflow, N.M., said his tickets came from his mother, also a Wilson fan.

"I've never seen her before, so I don't know what to expect," he said before the show.

As promised, Wilson energized the crowd so much that people took to the aisles to dance and cheers greeted every song. It was a heckuva party.

The concert, though not listed on Wilson's itinerary of tour dates, was a short 70 minutes and was marked by songs from her new CD "I Got Your Country," an album she released through her own record company, Redneck Records.

"I don't need to have their opinions anymore," she told the crowd, referring to the pressure she got to follow country music trends on her previous albums.

Having her own label allows her to indulge her love for southern rock music and she called "I Got Your Country" the "first-ever female southern rock album."

The concert hall sparkled like a sky full of stars as people video-recorded and photographed the show with their cell phones.

Wilson opened the show with her 2004 single "Here for the Party," immediately drawing people into the aisles to dance country swing. Later, her 2005 hit "All Jacked Up" moved one dancer to step and march while flailing his arms to the beat.

"You guys, this crowd don't even have alcohol out there. Y'all, they get rowdy without it," she said as the crowd erupted in cheers and whistles.

Wilson, a school dropout, briefly mentioned her own disadvantaged start in life and urged people to get their education, adding that her young daughter inspired her to earn a General Educational Development certificate in 2008.

As part of her performance, Wilson sang some rock classics including Journey's "When the Lights Go Down in the City" and Foreigner's "Hot Blooded."

She save her signature song, "Redneck Woman," for the encore, ending the evening with Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll."

"It was a great show," said Efrin Oquita, 30, from Cortez, Colo. "She really knows how to work the crowd."

Oquita said he isn't a country music fan, but he liked the intimacy of the Phil so much that he plans to return to see the next show there - country singer Neil McCoy, who is scheduled to perform April 8.

"The venue is amazing," Oquita said, adding that he has attended concerts in Albuquerque and Phoenix, site of the region's most lavish concert facilities. "This is one of the best venues in my opinion."

"It was a good show," concluded Renee Shorty, 36, of Lake Valley, N. M.

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