Craig Morgan may not get the media attention (and lately the record sales or airplay) his buddy Blake Shelton but he certainly knows how to connect with his audience, thanks to his everyman looks, gracious and fun-loving stage banter and songs about real life, real love and faith.
The crowd Friday night at the Celebrate Virginia grounds in Fredericksburg, VA, sang along to favorites "Redneck Yacht Club" and "Little Bit of Life" as well as the new summer party favorite "Bonfire," and held their lovers close and swayed along to the ballads "Tough" and "What I Love About Sundays," which was opened with a sweet version of "Amazing Grace."
Personally, I particularly enjoyed "God Must Really Love Me"-- a great song with soaring vocals and an unusual (but in a good way) arrangement. It was also pretty much ignored by country radio but embraced by Christian stations and even nominated for several Christian music awards (as Morgan proudly told the crowd.)
As I sat in the audience holding my 4-year-old son, who spent the first year of his life in a Russian orphanage but was now ready to sing along to "International Harvester," I and those around us were touched and inspired by the song's testament to faith and blessings. The song felt personal and we in the crowd were proud to share the moment with Morgan.
Despite the August heat and humidity, and a constant barrage of dive-bombing bugs, Morgan was a trooper, just swatting away the insects (and possibly swallowing one or two!) and rocking on. The set had a few very welcome and interesting surprises--beautiful covers of Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" and Lionel Ritchie's "Easy," both delivered with no country affectations but certainly fitting right in with Morgan's rocking/pop/country set, which included "Rock & Roll Fantasy" as a segue to introducing his talented and versatile band.
Craig Morgan delivered the show his audience expected and loved--including a Blake Shelton joke--and won over a few new fans. Definitely check him out when he comes to your town.