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Review: Tim McGraw rocks Outback's Aussie Bash at the A La Carte Pavilion




I might never look at honey the same way again. In fact, it may be my new favorite food, if you can call it that.

Country star Tim McGraw was downing a spoonful of the sweet stuff when I met up with him Tuesday night before his concert at Tampa’s A La Carte Pavilion. Poor guy wasn’t feeling 100 percent and hoped some honey would cure his ills. (Pollen, be damned!)

The country boy from Louisiana said honey made him feel better, even if it didn’t really work. Sometimes, he said, you’ve just got to belt it out.

Belt it out he did during the invite-only Aussie Bash kickoff party for the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am golf tournament, which runs through Sunday at TPC Tampa Bay.

Weeks ago, the PR people had promised me a face-to-face interview with one of country’s music leading — and very married — male stars. I’d chat with him for a few minutes and write about it in advance of his May 7 concert at the Ford Amphitheatre, also sponsored by Outback.

I arrived to learn that a few minutes actually meant five. I’d have to talk fast and get to the point, whatever it was.

Soon after, McGraw’s handler, a guy named E.J., whose good looks made up for his lack of personality, escorted me to McGraw’s tour bus.

Go on in, he said.

Stopwatch pressed.

By the kitchenette was a guy in an Army green T-shirt and cargo pants holding a spoon and a plastic bear of honey.

Tim McGraw. And without his signature cowboy hat. (Trust me, he doesn’t need one.)

For the next 6 minutes and 41 seconds we proceeded to talk about his upcoming show, his three daughters and his wife, Faith Hill, who all women want to hate, but morally can’t. I mentioned that I saw him in concert here in 2007 and how we were both born in 1967, the summer of love. He mentioned his fondness for Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion and his fear of his oldest daughter becoming a teenager soon.
He told me he’s eaten squirrel.

Then good ol’ E.J. walked in.

Our date was over.

About 30 minutes later, McGraw took to the stage in a white button-down shirt, jeans and, of course, his black hat. I pathetically pondered the fact that he had changed clothes between our conversation and the concert. Hence, he recently had no clothes on. Oh, my!

McGraw opened with Real Good Man. (Imagine my lack of surprise.) The audience of mostly middle-age men and not-so-middle-age women clicked their camera phones and sent posts on Facebook.

At one point, I thought he saw me in the audience near the stage when I was talking to someone. Wearing a bright colored top was a smart choice, I thought, but how rude of me for not giving him my full attention.

He sang through a bunch of hits, from Southern Voice to Where the Green Grass Grows, obviously pleasing the audience who knew it was a treat, even if they didn’t fully appreciate it.

Several songs in, he stepped toward the drums and sucked on what looked to be a lemon wedge, setting off a fun game of citrus-tossing among band members.

The audience seemed oblivious. Only I knew about the honey. Maybe the lemons were related.

Regardless, it was sweet.

— Susan Thurston, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:18pm]


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