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May 26, 2015
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Southern Comfort

Opening act Joe Nichols connects with his audience at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox


Hooking up with the fabulous folks on Ciliberto and Friends (www.thunder102.com) cemented the deal. The radio station is hugely popular and draws an enormous audience in both New York and Pennsylvania. And being all country, all the time, I found myself able to express my secret love without fear of judgment. It may seem a bit incongruous to see a nice Jewish boy sporting a 10-gallon hat while driving his beat-up pickup along the beautiful country roads of the Upper Delaware River valley, but there you have it. I might have been late to the party, but suffice it to say that I’m here to stay. Imagine me crowing with delight then, when the gates opened for the season at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (www.bethelwoodscenter.org). To be sure, the place offers something for everyone and draws the best of the best in the world of entertainment. In a few short years, Bethel Woods has become synonymous with star power, and one simply has to check out this year’s schedule of concerts to understand how fortunate we are to have a world-class venue right in our own backyard. This season presents The Doobie Brothers, (July 12) Josh Groban (August 23) and James Taylor (July 20) to name just a few, but it’s the country shows on the roster that make my heart sing. Toby Keith, Kenny Rogers and Miranda Lambert are all headed our way as the summer unfolds and last weekend, Bethel Woods was flooded with fans who turned out in droves to catch opening acts Joe Nichols, Billy Currington and the incomparable (IMHO) headliners Lady Antebellum. Unfamiliar with Nichols, I read up a little and learned that he has eight albums under his belt and made Billboard Magazine’s “Hot Country Songs” chart debuting at number 59 with “Yeah,” which has already sold 186,000 copies as of last month. It was clear that I’m a little behind the times, since thousands cheered and sang along with Nichols’ latest hit, which Country Weekly praised as “hinting towards warm-weather goodness that the impending summer holds.” He was durn good.