Concert: Jagermeister Country Music Tour with Dierks Bentley in Poughkeepsie, NY

Poughkeepsie, NY, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of country music, but the working-class town 70 miles north of New York City played perfect host to the sixth stop of this year's Jagermeister Country Music Tour, headed up by Dierks Bentley.

Poughkeepsie, NY, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of country music, but the working-class town 70 miles north of New York City played perfect host to the sixth stop of this year's Jagermeister Country Music Tour, headed up by Dierks Bentley.

The rowdy, sold-out crowd was treated to more than three hours of music Friday (3/25) at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, ranging from old-time country twang to radio-friendly "new country."

Bentley took to the stage with charged up versions of "Feel that Fire" and "Every Mile a Memory," but having just finished recording his sixth studio record for Capitol Records, he was eager to play some of his new material. First up was "Am I the Only One," a rowdy, get-your-drink-on, instant classic that had the crowd singing from start to finish -- an impressive feat considering the fact that the song hit the airwaves less then a week ago. "Fastback," also from his upcoming album, was met with equal excitement by a crowd that seemed to love each song more than the last. Catching his breath between songs Bentley smiled and admitted, "I feel like I'm doing pretty good, I feel like Charlie Sheen, I'm 'winning' -- thanks to you guys."

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If there was any downside to the night it was because a few of those in attendance didn't seem to think the "drink responsibly" message applied to them. Noticing some kind of nonsense going on, Bentley barked, "Take it outside," and, without missing a beat, the party continued on with "Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do."

Slowing things down a bit, the band played a bluegrass-inspired mini-set that started with the theme from "The Dukes of Hazzard" and included an incredible version of U2's "Pride in the Name of Love." Dierks further illustrated his love for the '80s by inserting covers of Bon Jovi and Billy Idol classics into the set, which clocked in at 90 minutes and left the audience knowing that they'd just had one hell of a good time.

The night opened with a strong, five-song set from Sean Patrick McGraw, who was an unannounced addition to the first leg of the tour. No one in attendance seemed to mind the unexpected guest, as the former contestant on "Nashville Star" chose to forgo the ballads and plow through a some straight-ahead and rockin' country songs.

Next up was Miss Willie Brown, who released their first EP earlier this month. The duo of Kasey Buckley and Amanda Watkins is the first country music act signed to A&M/Octone Records. The crowd seemed almost unsure what to make of the band, whose stunning good looks may have had them wondering, "Can they really be any good?" They quickly learned that, yes indeed, these girls can deliver the goods. They opened with their first single, "Sick of Me," and followed it with six songs that seamlessly crisscrossed musical genres without ever losing the pop sensibility that made each song instantly enjoyable. From crunching anthemic power cords, to country ballads, to even -- dare I say -- funk, it was all there and delivered with an excitement of a band with something to prove.

Relative newcomer Josh Thompson was greeted like an old friend by the enthusiastic crowd, which sang along to songs from his debut album, "Way Out There." Thompson, who took a break from recording his follow-up to join the tour, carries the torch of traditional country music with songs about sinners, drinkers and the plight of the working man. Clearly his message resonated. Alhough you'd be hard pressed to find a John Deere (tractor or hat) in downtown Poughkeepsie, that didn't stop anyone from singing along to being like "John Wayne, Johnny Cash, and John Deere" during the chorus of "Way Out Here." Thompson's hour-long set closed with a cover of the Billy Joel classic "You May Be Right." Other highlights included "A Name in This Town" and the yet to be released "I'm Comin' Down."

Package tours can at times seem like great ideas on paper, but end up missing the mark.That definitely is not the case here; this is a tour that future country package tours will have to live up to.

 

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