I’ve never seen Charlie Pride before but was quite impressed with the 78 year old’s candor and stage presence.
I went down memory lane last night at Club Regent. His music triggered a lot of childhood memories for me.
Dad was into country music like Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, while mom was into all that plus Kristofferson, Elvis and CCR. Charlie sang all of these country legend’s songs as well as his big hits.
Family get togethers at Grandma Kretchsmer’s would usually end after dinner in singalongs. Aunt Lenore would pull out her acoustic guitar with Uncle Rocky (the cowboy of the family) playing the harmonica. His wife, my Aunt Kathy, would also play acoustic. I’m quite sure that most of my Aunts and Uncles have seen Charlie over the years.
The whole clan would sing Hank Williams and Johnny Cash but the family favourite was always Me & Bobby McGee. I was very thrilled to hear Charlie’s very tight band play this at the show and so were the rest of the 1395 people at the sold out venue.
You know how sometimes parents bring their kids to concerts, well this show was quite the opposite as it seemed like lots of the kids (in this case 50-60 year olds) brought their elderly parents.
There were a lot of singalongs at the show. And Mr. Pride was having a great time telling stories and joking with the audience. Many in the audience yelled out, “I love you Charlie,” throughout the evening. He sincerely responded, “I love you too.”
There was a bit of rivalry going on in the audience. When someone in the front yelled, “I love you,” a woman in the back of the room yelled, “We love you more!”
He talked about his wife (who he said he’s been married to for “nine years and half a century”) and shared a story about how she told him he should call Dolly Parton and ask her to write a gospel song for him. He told her to call her herself. She did and Dolly, at 19 years old, not only wrote one for him but sang it with him. The song was God’s Colouring Book which he sang at the show.
At the end of the song he did a great imitation of Dolly singing her lines. He also did a Jim Reeves impersonation after singing He’ll Have to Go. Like Dolly Parton, who I saw recently (amazing storyteller and performer), Charlie is quite proud of his roots.
He asked the fellow who wrote the song, I Wouldn’t Want to Live There Anymore, if he would mind if he changed it to, Wonder if I’d Live There Anymore. He did this so that he wouldn’t offend the folks he grew up with in his hometown of Sledge, Mississippi.
In total, ‘The Pride of Country’ sang 32 songs during the 80 minute show, including a gospel medley and a medley of Hank Williams tunes. Some of the songs were just little snippets, like when he strapped on a guitar to play his biggest hit, Kiss An Angel Good Morning (followed by the great line “and love her like a devil when you get back home.”) He played the unmistakable first notes of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues then launched into the first lines of Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock.
2016 marks the 50th year that Charlie Pride has been making music professionally. Although he started his career as a ballplayer in 1950 for the Negro American Leagues’ Memphis Red Sox. He would play his guitar and sing songs on the team bus between ballparks.
As I mentioned, the six piece band, The Pridesmen, were very tight. Keyboardist Danny Hutchins (who seems to have a photographic memory) has played with Charlie for more than 39 years.
Here are the Pridesmen band stats (how long each has played with the band according to Donny Hutchins):
Kevin Bailey – Bass – 3 years, 8 months, 5 days
Mark Kelsum – Guitar and Fiddle – 3 years, 3 months, 25 days
Ronnie Miller – Steel guitar – 14 years, 7 months, 10 days
Derek Spigener – Drums – 16 years, 9 months, 13 days
Lead Guitar – Billy Martin – 20 years, 5 months, 30 days
Keyboards – Donny Hutchins – 39 years, 8 months, 18 days, 2 hours, 9 minutes, 55 secs (as of 9:09pm CST).
The band, The Pridesmen, opened up the show with a 20 minute set (which I missed because I didn’t realize the show started at 7 p.m. instead of the usual Club Regent start time of 8 p.m.). At the end of the show they kept on playing when Charlie left the stage briefly. He came back and sang Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Cotton Fields.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
1. Snakes Crawl at Night (2 choruses)
2. Happiness of Having You
3. Whole Lotta Things (half)
4. Is Anybody Going To San Antone
Just Between You and Me (half)
Crystal Chandeliers (half)
Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger (chorus)
All I Have To Offer You Is Me (half)
6. Me & Bobby McGee
7. Wonder If I’d Live There Anymore
(original title- I Wouldn’t Want
to Live There Anymore)
8. Mississippi Cotton Picking Town (half)
9. On the Wings of a Dove
10. Someone Loves You Honey
11. You’re My Jamaica
12. Where Do I Put Her Memory (half)
13. Medley: Honky Tonk Blues (2 verses)
You Win Again (1 verse)
Roll on Mississippi (half)
14. Mountain of Love
15. He’ll Have to Go
16. The Race is On
17. God’s Colouring Book
18. Gospel Medley:
I’ll Fly Away (Beginning)
Church in the Wildwoods
I Saw the Light
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
I’ll Fly Away (ending)
19. Except For You
20. Folsom Prison Blues (opening riff)
21. Jailhouse Rock (1st two lines)
22. Kiss An Angel Good Morning
24. Cotton Fields