This Multi-Platinum artist took Wild Bills by storm….. literally…..tornado watches and warnings were in full effect outside when Gretchen Wilson started her set, but that didn’t seem to stop her fans in what appeared to be close to a sold out show at Wild Bills! I must say, Gretchen seemed to be genuinely touched by the huge crowd that made it out to see her in spite of the bad weather. Gretchen is a success story that should be inspiring to not only any musician following their dream, but to kids that don’t have the easiest childhood. – She was born and raised by her young single mother, moved from trailer park to trailer park staying one step ahead of debt collectors, dropped out of high school in the 9th grade and worked hard earning money (started bartending at the age of 14 along side her mother) and at the same time she was following her dream of music. The exciting part of the story is she not only she picked up 2004 CMA Horizon Award, 2004 Grammy Award winner for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, 2005 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and a slew of other awards for her talent, but all through the years of building her career, she didn’t forget about her education –Wanting to teach her own daughter the importance of education, she received her GED in 2007 at the age of 34. She still today is involved in the importance of Adult Education with one of her biggest awards coming when she was honored with the 2009 National Coalition for Literacy Leadership Award.
Ok, Forget the storms, forget her background and forget the fact that she had been sick and almost didn’t perform.…. she was ‘Here for the Party’…….and that is exactly how she started out the set! The crowd was there for her party too – the place was packed out with cowboy hats and big belt buckles! One thing about Country Music that is endearing is the proud sense of patriotism that surrounds it – they proved that to be true with an electric guitar version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. She didn’t keep it low key for long….Gretchen and her talented band continued the set with Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ and a musical “tease” of songs like ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Pretty Woman’. Showing her wild, rocker side, she took a shot of Jack Daniels during her 2005 hit, ‘All Jacked Up’ ending that song with a strong drum solo that drummer, Ron Gannaway nailed. One song that was missing during her set was the song that broke her career wide open, Redneck Woman, which of course ended up being the Encore. I don’t think there was one person in the crowd that didn’t know the words to that song…..the crowd sang as they held up their beer bottles to salute this beautiful Red Neck woman and her music. Gretchen Wilson fans are obviously loyal and with her to stay….. can’t wait to hear what her next chapter in life sounds like! She’s not just Country, she is Southern Rock-n-Roll!