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arts & leisure

Bethel Woods opening salvo explodes with excitement

Beach Boy Mike Love poked "fun fun fun" at himself and the group, all night long at Bethel Woods.

By Jonathan Fox
June 21, 2012

Even though Donny and Marie were nowhere to be seen, I couldn’t help but conjure up their image as Bethel Woods' first trio of concerts was a little bit country... and a little bit rock and roll. Opening night attracted a sold-out crowd, anxious to catch headliners Lady Antebellum, who were waiting in the wings as husband and wife country duo Keifer Thompson and Shawna Thompson, (AKA Thompson Square) warmed up the crowd. Combining both classic rock and country, the pair has quickly caught fire since their debut album began to climb the charts as recently as 2010, and it was clear that there were scads of T.S. fans in the house, as they enthusiastically cheered the two on, while singing along with their number one country hit “Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

After a brief intermission, the applause was deafening as Darius Rucker took the stage. Having first gained fame as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker is a consummate entertainer and his smooth style, sexy moves and Hollywood smile were infectious. As Rucker broke into “Get up and dance with me,” the crowd did just that, and when he introduced his kids, who are currently on tour with him, the place went wild. Acknowledging his country roots, Rucker performed a variety of songs, including his number-one country hit “History in the Making,” before handing the mike over to the stars of the show, country pop trio “Lady Antebellum.”

Seven-time Grammy winning vocalists Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley are currently unstoppable as their meteoric rise continues unabated. Backed by an amazing band, their signature three-part harmony resonates with their audience, and when the trio declared that Bethel, NY was “probably the most beautiful venue we have ever had the good fortune to play,” the screams of approval echoed far beyond the gates of the Performing Arts Center, nestled into the rolling, verdant hills.

Legends in the making gave way to living legend Ringo Starr (and his All Starr Band) on Saturday night, as the former Beatle bopped and swayed his way through a string of hits supported by consummate musicians, who rotate on an annual basis. In addition to All Starr alumni Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera, and Gregg Bissonette, new to the All Starrs are Steve Lukather (Toto) and Gregg Rolie (Santana & Journey). Starr, who has proven himself long ago, has wisely joined forces with incredible talents who have amazing track records of their own, and the combination is entertainment at its finest.