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IMG_5353Tractors and stadium workers worked the soil that the Rodeo tore through for the last four hours.  It was fun.  The Houston Rodeo made the American pride in every citizen swell to where we were popping buttons.

Now, the announcer re-energize the crowd, “Get ready, folks because Brad Paisley is in the house!”  The thunderous roar reverberated throughout the stadium.   Teenagers to my right screamed with a high shrill while senior citizens to my left applauded vigorously.

Stage hands rolled out the stage on to the Rodeo dirt floor.  Clearly this was masterminded by gifted engineers and rehearsed several times by set-up crews.  Still it was a wonder to behold a rodeo arena transformed into a premier concert stage in a matter of minutes.

The lights of the stadium were dimmed.  A hush fell over the 70,000 fans.  Expectation could be felt all over.IMG_5394

There were musicians on the stage.  It rotated so that everyone in the stadium could sense the pulsation of the Country beat that began to rock the great venue.  A black crew cab pickup truck rolled out on to the floor and drove right up to the stage.

It was not hard to guess what was coming.  Brad Paisley got out the truck, donned his guitar and trotted up to the stage.  The huge ovation was louder than a jet plane that had just delivered a high-profile package.

The concert began with one great Paisley song after the next.  From one great hit to the next the band played whatever modulation was necessary to get into the next key and never wasted a single quarter note between songs.  Paisley was vintage!

His singing was the familiar voice that all of us played over and over on our music machines.  On top of that were the instrumental interludes where his virtuoso guitar skills are becoming legendary.  The energy hit a maximum human effort and never let down.

IMG_5415The rotating stage never paused.  Paisley hopped off and ran to be next to the fans.  People went nuts!

Selfies were popping, hand slapping was firecrackers and hugs were the preferred expression as applause from those too far away thundered with the music.  Security ran along with this Country Western superstar.  The crowds were excited but very respectful.

Then, the climax came with his final song.  The pickup truck rolled up to the stage and Paisley stepped into the bed and rode in the back while waving good-bye to the crowd.  Fireworks exploded and he threw his hat to an adoring fan.

This side of heaven entertainment by gifted people is amazing.  With tens of thousands of excited music lovers, the show is stunning.  Some day heaven will be even greater, I am sure.  In the meantime, “What a show!”

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

I was set up with my computer while the TV was on.  Whatever show was airing at the time I don’t even remember.  What did capture my attention was the  commercial.

Sure, I’m a Country & Western fan so Brad Paisley is an attention grabber.  He has a down-to-earth demeanor and a dry sense of humor.  Seeing him with the Jack-in-the-box mascot was sure to be a curiosity at the very least.

Jack is explaining to Brad that they want him to endorse their new Country Meal.  With a bit of flattery Jack tells Brad, “What’s more country than Brad Paisley!”   Brad wasn’t impressed.

Instead, he thoughtfully responded, “Oh, I don’t know…maybe …” Then, he offered some early reasonable options.  But, that list kept going to move into goofy options that reflected more Brad’s humble spirit than good advertising options for Jack to consider.

As Brad went down his off-the-cuff options of what is more country than him, Jack’s countenance changed.  When the ad cut-away to the mascot he had a silly surprised disbelief look on his mask.  It was hilarious.

To be fair, I had been a very consistent customer of Jack-in-the-box for many years.  In fact it is what got me fed during my Seminary years in Texas.  It was my highlight during a week of scrimping and scraping for meals on a very tight budget.

Sunday nights was my treat night.  I would leave the dorm and walk a block and order my “big” meal of the week.  Counting coins was my habit of life.

It was a simple time in my life.  I never told anyone how tight my funds were.  But, I remember the reluctance each time I would have to break a $20 and then judiciously watch over all of the change during the subsequent week. 

Maybe the best in country is not  only Brad Paisley, Country Music but also the struggling lives of Americans who work hard, carefully watch their spending, deny themselves wants to make their precious few dollars spread out and eventually, land a better paying job once their education is done and their tuition obligation is completed.  America is Country.  Whatever is American is the best that we and our fellow countrymen represent to keep on making this country great.

Come on, fellow Americans!  Let’s keep on working, learning and sharing.   Live in liberty and be in pursuit of happiness.  Now, that’s country!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography