Saturday night, the usual lively crowd at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace got a treat from “American Idol season 10” finalist and country singer, Lauren Alaina.
I had been wanting to see her, but thought I had plans in the evening and wouldn’t be able to. Long story short, I was able to go…But, then I hadn’t made reservations. There weren’t seats available for dinner, but my parents and I were able to squeeze in for the show itself and I was so excited to be there. So many artists have played in that venue early on in their careers and not long after have gone on to win Grammys, ACMs, CMAs and headline tours around the country. A few of those artists include Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Hunter Hayes.
When creating the Crystal Palace, Buck Owens wanted it to have that same feel of a honky tonk or bar on Broadway in Nashville, Tenn. and it certainly does. People can eat, drink and spend time with their friends and family for a night on the town, while checking out great live entertainment.
Alaina wasn’t short on energy as she made conversation with the crowd and sang several songs, including one where she mentioned that for a year-and-a-half, she lived out her very own country song. Her dad is an alcoholic, her mom asked for a divorce, then married a family friend and her dad married a 28-year-old. Country song, for sure, and it was a good one at that. But, the message was an upbeat one and that things always get better. She dedicated it to a girl in the crowd, who was not only celebrating her birthday, but was battling cancer, and also had the audience join her in singing “Happy Birthday” to the young girl. It’s easy to see that Alaina has a heart of gold and cares about people.
After that, the next few songs were all about feeling good and happy times. She mixed a medley of some of the strongest females in music from both pop and country, like Reba, Carrie Underwood, Rihanna and Whitney Houston. She closed out the show by singing her current single, “Next Boyfriend.” She told the crowd that she always brings up a guy on stage to participate in the fun, and this night was no different. A local guy walked up onstage and shook his booty per Lauren’s instruction, which gave the audience plenty of laughs.
While on the Fox reality competition show, Alaina stepped into our hearts as just a 15-year-old girl with stars in her eyes and a dream on her heart. She has now made that a reality and with more life experiences, she’s grown into not only a maturity in the way she graces the stage, but in her voice. I got chills watching her on stage in the intimate venue, just as I had while watching her from my living room at home, sitting in the Nokia Theater during the live taping of the “American Idol” finale and at LP Field in Nashville, when she sang “Anyway” with Martina McBride during her very first CMA Fest week experience as an artist.
Part of Lauren’s charm and talent isn’t just the fact that she can sing, it’s that she’s a girl’s girl. She’s the kind of person you can walk right up to and start talking to with ease, like you’ve known her forever. I know I sure did. I was first in line to meet her, and as soon as she walked into the room, I was up. She said hi and that she liked my headband, then I put my arm around for a picture. She said hi and that she liked my headband, then we started to pose for a picture. Here’s how the rest of our conversation went:
Lauren Alaina: You just stuck your hand in my shirt! (There was a wider opening in the back)
Me: Oh, I forgot about that. Wow! That’s super awkward.
Alaina: That’s okay, I set myself up for that one. It’s not you, it’s me.
Me: And right before Valentine’s Day, too.
Alaina: *dies laughing* That was a good one. That was a good one.
We took our picture, then I said, “you have no idea how long I’ve waited to meet you.” I told her that I had been at the softball game in Nashville her first year and it was just craziness. She agreed and said her mind was in a million different directions that day. I added that it was also extremely hot out and she said she probably had black stuff all over her face. Alaina said I should come see her again when she tours with Alan Jackson this summer and performs in Anaheim. I told her she should come back here. “I am,” she said. “No, I mean in Bakersfield,” I added. “You should talk to that guy right there,” she pointed to one of our local radio dj’s, who smiled. “It was so nice meeting you,” she said and leaned in for a second or third hug. I told her I couldn’t wait for her album and said goodbye.
Here are a few of our pictures from the evening:
It’s artists like Lauren Alaina that remind me why I love the country scene/genre as much as I do, even in the midst of bro country and knowing that the industry isn’t exactly what it used to be. Alaina is someone who genuinely loves what she does and wants others to feel that same excitement and passion just by coming to a show. She makes me excited about the future of females in the country music genre and that there isn’t a short supply on them. She’s incredibly underrated and I hope that soon she (and other females) will get the recognition they deserve.
That’s all for now,