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Adkins' hit single inspires book about parenthood

| Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003

Trace Adkins seems to be having a good year. The singer, who will perform Aug. 17 at the Westmoreland Fair, was tapped recently to join the Grand Ole Opry. His official induction will be Aug. 23. Also, his latest CD, "Greatest Hits Collection, Vol. 1," has produced a new hit single, "Then They Do."

"Then They Do" has been chosen by Rutledge Hill Press for its "NoteBooks" series of small books based on country songs. It's a natural choice. The lyrics are a parent's attempt to grasp how quickly children grow up:

I see them as babies
I guess that'll never change
You pray all their lives
That someday they will find happiness

Then they do
And that's how it is
It's just quiet in the morning
Can't believe
How much you miss
All they do
And all they did.

The gift book, priced at $14.99, includes a CD of Adkins singing an acoustic version of the song. The text consists of short essays on being a parent, including entries written by Adkins and the song's writers, Jim Collins and Sunny Russ.

Adklns' Westmoreland Fair concert is set for 6 p.m. at Rolling Rock Arena. Tickets are $27 and $22. Details: (724) 423-5005 or www.westmorelandfair.com.

THREE RIVERS REGATTA

The threat of rain apparently dampened enthusiasm for going to Sunday's concert at Point State Park. The show, which closed the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, featured Lee Ann Womack with Dusty Drake and the Povertyneck Hillbillies as opening acts.

Although attendance swelled by the time Womack took the stage at 8 p.m., it certainly didn't match the turnout for last year's concert, headlined by Diamond Rio.

It's a shame, because improvements were made this year. The sound was better, a "jumbo screen" was in place, and no banners adorned the fence surrounding the VIP seating area. Last year, the banners obstructed the view of those folks seated just outside the VIP area.

Womack has been to the Point before. She opened for Sawyer Brown in 2000 during a rainy Dollar Bank Jamboree. Sunday, she looked much the same as she did then, except for more blond highlights in her hair and a trendy purple peasant blouse topping her blue jeans.

The 2000 concert apparently wasn't attended by Sunday's crowd, which seemed unaware of Womack's penchant for pursuing a musical mix. Rather than rip through her hits, she prefers to display her versatility and give the audience something unexpected.

Also, she loves classics, and on Sunday sang Patsy Cline's "She's Got You" as well as "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good," which was written by Pittsburgh's Dave Hanner and popularized by Don Williams. After Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," she dipped into blues-rock for "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and into Texas swing for "San Antonio Rose."

During this interlude, the crowd became increasingly restless, and as Womack finished the Bob Wills number, an audience member admonished her to sing something "country."

"Country?" replied the singer. "That was country."

Flustered, she asked the audience whether the Texas tune was "ugly or nice," and received a mixed response.

Fortunately, next on the set list was her megahit, the country-pop crossover "I Hope You Dance." Womack introduced it by saying, "Here's something kinda country." She then finished with a strong rendition of "Ashes By Now," and eschewed an encore.

(Note to audience: When the concert is free, don't complain.)

Earlier in the evening, Jimmy Roach, representing the Froggy radio stations, introduced Dusty Drake by asking how many in the audience were related to him. Drake, a Monaca native, clearly enjoyed having relatives and friends in the audience. He waved to people from the stage, and worked a reference to Beaver County into one of his songs, "Not Bad for a Good Ole Boy."

That song, Drake told me by phone from Nashville several weeks ago, originally was to be the second release off his self-titled CD. It was "a pretty easy song to write," he said, "because I was just talking about all the people I know up there" in Western Pennsylvania.

After a change in plans, the follow-up single to "One Last Time" is "Smaller Pieces," which he performed Sunday to a good response.

DOLLAR BANK JAMBOREE

I wondered why I hadn't seen as much advertising for this year's Dollar Bank Jamboree, starring Vince Gill, as I had for last year's, which brought Clint Black to Point State Park.

Apparently, heavy promotion is no longer needed. The Point was packed on July 12 -- which, by the way, was a hot and sunny day.

Gill, who usually is clean-shaven, surprised many in the audience by sporting a beard. It matched his clothes. "I wore my Pittsburgh black for you -- just like The Bus," he told the crowd, referring to the Steelers' Jerome Bettis.

The singer, whose loose shirt wasn't tucked in, then answered a woman in the audience, telling her, "Trust me honey, you don't want me to take it off." (Note to Dusty Drake, who unbuttoned his shirt to flash his tattoo during "Ain't Nobody's Business": Take Gill's advice. Besides, it ain't nobody's business.)

Gill's repertoire for the evening was mainly his hits, with the exception of "Ring of Fire," offered in tribute to its writer, June Carter Cash, who died in May. He reached back to 1989 for "When I Call Your Name," which he followed with more ballads, including his most recent single, the beautiful "Someday."

He also introduced the middling "Young Man's Town," the third single off the "Next Big Thing" CD.

RALPH STANLEY

Until Ralph Stanley's concert on July 13, I'd never seen a Hartwood Acres performer take an intermission. But at his age -- 76 -- taking a break is understandable.

Also understandable -- if tiresome -- was his old-style hucksterism. He learned his craft in the '40s, when I suppose it was necessary to peddle wares at every stop on the circuit. At Hartwood, Stanley hawked T-shirts, CDs and photos, especially a publicity shot of his grandson, Nathan Stanley, an adolescent who was playing mandolin that night with his grandfather's Clinch Mountain Boys.

Stanley, who is still recording, sang songs old and new. They included one with the descriptive title of "Robin Build a Nest on Daddy's Grave," which he said is his latest gospel release. Some songs brought to Stanley's mind his brother and singing partner, Carter, who died in 1966, while another -- "O Death -- signified a recent triumph. Last year, Stanley's a cappella version of the song earned him a Grammy Award.

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