Okay…I love country music. There, said it, and I don’t apologize for it. It’s who I am, and it’s where I’m from. Yes, I live in metro Atlanta, but my mind loves to revisit my roots – and they look quite different from my current environment.
This past weekend I took a little trip down to South Georgia. My daughter and I met my sister and nieces for the Luke Bryan Farm Tour concert in Valdosta. As we turned off the interstate onto a country road, we were immediately directed into another turn and onto a little dirt road that wound itself around a small patch of woods. Trucks, trucks, and more trucks took this same direction as we drove our vehicles around and back to a large open field. It was bordered on the back-side by two separate groves of oak trees and an erected stage area.
Turning off the trail on which we'd entered the open area, we cut across the field to park. My van began to “jump” over old crop rows that had been left to seed and mowed for our “parking lot.” My daughter kept laughing at me because from the time I’d seen all the trucks turning off I-75 and onto the dirt road, I’d been grinning from ear to ear ("like a horse eat’n briars" if you’re from where I’m from), and saying, “O My Gosh…I think I’m gonna cry!” She loved it as much as I did.
When we got to our “parking space” some boys in jeans, boots and baseball caps jumped out of the truck in front of us holler’n (that’s yelling): “Snake!, Snake!” At this, the young guy driving said, “I got it!” And they proceeded to “take care” of the “situation.” I’m pretty sure it was a cottonmouth (water moccasin) so I was grateful for their speedy handlin’ of said snake! Anyway, it just added to the swell’n in my heart! No big deal…no discussion…no debates…just handled. Ahhhh, home – my grin got a little bigger.
The field was quickly filling up with mostly trucks as people (predominately college kids, but truly all ages were represented), started setting up to tailgate. Footballs were thrown (oh, and so was the snake – under a truck), grills were lit, and the music got loud as chairs came out and coolers were opened. Everyone seemed to feel a kinship with everyone else. We easily got acquainted with our neighbors, quickly figured out where the “porta-potties” were, and greeted the very capable looking law enforcement agents that were walking around.
All in all, the crowd was fantastic. It was a testament to the “up-bring’n” of the 14,000 in attendance! This Mama was proud of ‘em. I heard a lot of “please and thank yous” as well as the Southern-ingrained “Yes-mam” and “No-mam” all around us. The boys made offers to help with this or lift that. And while there was a bit of pushing to get up front during the show (by the girls), they backed off when I (nicely…well mostly) said something to them; at which time I’d get “thank yous” from other girls around me! Hahaha…It helps to be the “Mama figure” in the bunch!
And speak’n (I’m in the dialect now!) of the show! Luke Bryan was great. He was loads of fun and held the 14,000 in the palm of his hand the entire time...no exaggeration! We were close to the stage and he was precious. He sang of where we stood - and ‘bout brought tears to my eyes! His lyrics are so relatable. Which is not at all surprising since he was raised not 100 miles up the road from Valdosta. “Muckalee Creek” runs just one county (I think) over from where we were and clearly “We Road in Trucks” was what most had done to get there! He ended the night with “Country Girl Shake it For Me” and “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” which we did and we didn’t! Hahaha!
We had stood in boots in several inches of sludgy mud at the back of a field in front of a stage for hours…loving every minute of it!
As we sat back at the van after the concert watching a half moon rise in the South Georgia sky (and coon lights being shined up in the trees!), wondering how the heck we were gonna get out of this field, I had the thought that Luke Bryan had truly used his God-given gifts to do two things. One: while I’d been there, I had not once checked email or thought of bills or homework…or anything else of the real world; and two: I’d been taken back to a simpler time and reminded of my heritage and my roots. For that, I am the most thankful to Luke Bryan and other country musicians...for helping to preserve our heritage.
Also, this night I’d had the opportunity to share all this with my daughter; who in spite of her love for the simplistic pictures painted in country music hasn’t really had that much opportunity to experience it living where we live. She got a little dose of the experience Saturday night though!
Thank you, Luke Bryan for helping me to “get back to my roots by a half moon glow!”