Sunday, May 27, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Not folding, Kenny Rogers is a gambler holding on

It's jarring to see and hear what condition Kenny Rogers' condition is in these days.

Rogers, 78, knows it, joking Sunday to a capacity Ruth Eckerd Hall crowd about surgery that "replaced the wrong damn knee," after limping on stage for his opening number, the one with the lyric: "Yes, it's true that I'm not the man I used to be."

Yet only a two-timer like Ruby wouldn't still enjoy Rogers' company.

The bum knee keeps the Country Music Hall of Famer sitting through many of his hits on a farewell tour dubbed The Gambler's Last Deal. Sunday's matinee followed Saturday night's show in Fort Pierce, which may explain Rogers' occasional shortness of breath and lyric memory.

None of this mattered to a crowd of empathetic baby boomers and beyond, who grew up and old to Rogers' romantic ballads and three-minute myths. Behind him, a trio of video screens flashed nostalgia, face-checking Rogers' partners in 20th century celebrity, from being introduced by Ed Sullivan to hosting the Tonight Show.

Skimming a 60-year career in barely 100 minutes, Rogers tapped the expected peaks after an early valley. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town led to chat about early work, letting a recording of 1958's That Crazy Feeling sing for itself. The chestnut Walkin' My Baby Back Home isn't what fans expect to hear Rogers sing, or poised and perky Linda Davis soloing on It's Only a Paper Moon.

"I see too many people yawning," Rogers said, taking the hint and a turn to the songs making Rogers one of the more successful recording artists ever.

Rogers described his ballads as what women wish they could hear and men wish they could say. Consider titles like You Decorated My Life and She Believes in Me. Or the beer can sexuality Mac Davis wrote into Something's Burning. Backed by his longtime tour band Bloodline, Rogers sang with conviction if not always with stamina.

The hits kept coming. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) offered one of Rogers' cleaner vocals and an amusing dissection of Mickey Newbury's lyrics. Rogers picked a fine time to unleash Lucille. A portion was dedicated to Rogers' singing partnership with Dottie West, including sharing Every Time Two Fools Collide with her video image, a la Natalie and Nat King Cole.

West was then subbed by Davis — the mother of Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott — for Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight and a solo turn on Fool Hearted Man. Davis' voice and animated presence made Rogers' limitations even clearer, an inevitability accepted with head shake humor.

Two of Rogers' acting endeavors inspired clips backed with songs: the TV movie title song Coward of the County and Love Will Turn You Around from the stock car comedy Six Pack. Davis returned in Sheena Easton mode to duet on Bob Seger's We've Got Tonight and knocked out Daytime Friends and Nighttime Lovers for good measure.

Rogers earned a second standing ovation since his intro for The Gambler, then a slow-dancing ovation by a just-engaged couple in the second row for Lady. They grabbed one of the tambourines Rogers handed out for Islands in the Stream, which would be an encore except as Rogers pointed out, when he gets to the wings these days he's staying there.

Another video compilation of celebrity pals set to You Can't Make Old Friends and a Blaze of Glory finale later, Rogers headed that way. Don't worry, he's booked in the United States and overseas into 2018. Kenny Rogers is well aware that it's time to fold 'em. He's just holding as long as he can.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival keeps rain at bay, brings Marshmello, Rezz to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium

Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival keeps rain at bay, brings Marshmello, Rezz to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium

In the end, we were waiting for a drop that never came.With Subtropical Storm Alberto forming in the southern Gulf of Mexico, it seemed a matter not of if but when but the Sunset Music Festival would suffer its nasty effects — inches of rain, g...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Country comedy band performs at Dessert Theatre benefit

Country comedy band performs at Dessert Theatre benefit

The Sweeney "Family" Band, a musical comedy act that blends country, folk and gospel music with knee-slapping humor, will perform June 3 at the CARES Elfers Center, 4136 Barker Drive, New Port Richey. Doors open at 1 p.m., with the show starting at 2...
Published: 05/25/18
Watch Kenny Chesney’s new ‘Get Along’ video, filmed entirely at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Watch Kenny Chesney’s new ‘Get Along’ video, filmed entirely at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Were you at Kenny Chesney's concert on April 21 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa? Then there's a decent chance you might be in his new video.The country superstar dropped the official video for his new single Get Along on Thursday, and it was appare...
Published: 05/24/18
Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

  Your Memorial Day weekend weather forecast is not looking good, with a big low pressure system, Invest 90L, hovering out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to dump several inches of water on Saturday. For music fans, it couldn't be coming at a...
Published: 05/24/18
An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

Recently I was asked to create a playlist for a summer beach party. An opportunity to procrastinate and mess around on Spotify for a few hours? Yeah, totally, when can I start?I like playlists that are diverse, not just in terms of genre (pop, hip-ho...
Published: 05/24/18
Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

It's anyone's guess as to whether this weekend's ugly rains will hold off long enough for the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to crack open some 10,000 bottles of tequila in Curtis Hixon Park.But if it does, you want to know when you can see your favori...
Published: 05/23/18
97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

The 97X Barbecue Music and Arts Festival — formerly the 97X BBQ, formerly the 97X Barbecue, formerly … well, who can keep track of it all? — returns on Saturday to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, with a lineup that includes Awolnation...
Published: 05/23/18
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It’s been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since. "Back in the ’80s, I had a couple o...
Published: 05/23/18
Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

For the second straight year, one of the most eclectic music festivals in Florida will be taking place in Live Oak.Suwannee Hulaween just announced the lineup for its 2018 edition, coming Oct. 26-28 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and it featur...
Published: 05/23/18
A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

THE BEATS GO ON: Sunset Music FestivalAt last year’s Sunset Music Festival, the focus was all on crowd safety. After two fans died from drug overdoses at Tampa’s largest annual rave in 2016, organizers heightened security across the board, yielding a...
Published: 05/23/18