Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, & Young Nashville Stars Rocked Hanahan Amphitheatre
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Inclement weather threatened, but the look of rain gave way to an ideal evening as Charleston’s own Kickin’ Country 92.5 hosted an awesome Spring Break Unplugged Concert at the Hanahan Amphitheater on Thursday (April 18th). The hidden outdoor complex on the banks of the Goose Creek Reservoir was the perfect setting as four young country music stars entertained 2,000 plus fans on the multi-tiered lawn. Judging by reactions from concert goers, whose ages ranged from kids to baby boomers, a good time was had by all.
The three hour show brought together 2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and runner up Lauren Alaina, with rising artists Carly Pearce and Adam Hambrick. The four joined each other on stage in a laid back singer songwriter round robin event, each sharing personal stories and insights into the songs they offered up. While McCreery may have the biggest following, it was clear all those attending were out for a good time country music party in the park.
22 year old rising local gal Lauren Hall opened the show. With her dad on the drums, Hall set the tone for the evening, proving she has unbridled spirit and the charm to wow large audiences, all the while recording her first album in Nashville.
McCreery and Alaina have more than a dozen radio hits together with Carly Pearce adding three number ones in various country music charts. Hambrick who is slowly making the move from songwriter to recording artist, scored his first number one when Dan & Shay took ‘How Not To’ to the top of the charts in 2016, with Hambrick riding his own wave on the success of his current single ‘Rockin’ All Night Long’.
Pearce got a warm reception and a bevy of ‘hell yeahs’ with her chart toppers, ‘Every Little Thing’, Hide The Wine’, ‘If My Name Was Whiskey’, and her latest track ‘Closer To You’. There was a lot of girl power in the crowd, with Pearce and Alaina capturing that energy and spurring ladies young and old alike to have a little fun.
Alaina lit the initial fuse when she sent up her tribute to the country girls who came before her with ‘Ladies Of The 90’s, adding a medley of hit songs from Whitney Houston, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Britney Spears, the queen of country music Reba Mc Entire. When Alaina sang the whole crowd got on their feet. She was a little more somber with her closing number ‘The Road Less Traveled’, although she did encourage fans to light up their cell phones. Just 24 years of age, Alaina works the audience like a seasoned pro.
McCreery clearly was the main attraction. The ladies love his warm smile and country boy good looks, while the guys envy his sexy baritone voice. A native southerner, McCreery drove from his home in North Carolina to perform in the low country. He told the crowd he has a warm spot for Charleston, including family who live here and took part in his 2018 wedding.
No doubt he’s shared the stage many times with Alaina especially during their Idol run, but it was the first time he’d shared the stage with Hambrick and Pearce. Like many in the crowd he became a bigger fan that night. He said the talent, the songwriting, and the voices were incredible, and wondered if he was playing second fiddle. Judging by those crowding the stage during his time in the limelight, they were there to bask in the McCreery glow.
Each artist sang roughly six numbers as they passed the musical baton to one another. McCreery leaned a little to the current single side offering up several tracks from his latest release ‘Seasons Change’. Audiences sang along to many of his hits including ‘In Between’, ‘This Is It’, and the show stopper and final song of the night ‘Five More Minutes’. The emotional track written after the loss of his grandfather appeared to be the highlight of the three hour musical montage, prefaced by a moving story by McCreery. He had the entire crowd singing harmony and wishing the show would last ‘five more minutes.
92.5 Kickin’ Country and the line up of radio personalities added to the onstage merriment. TJ Phillips is a Charleston country music veteran, and Jeff Cash was out to set a new ‘high five’ record on, you guessed it, ‘High Five Day’. I think he lost count at 92.5 or somewhere in the high 100’s. All in all the Spring Break Unplugged went off without a glitch. A festival atmosphere surrounded the scenic amphitheater under a moonlit night. Everyone I talked to thoroughly enjoyed the show. With all the artists in their 20’s, fans were entertained by the future of country music.
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