2009 Keith Urban "We're All for the Hall"
STAR-PACKED WE’RE ALL FOR THE HALL BENEFIT CONCERT, HOSTED BY KEITH URBAN, PROVIDES “TRULY MAGICAL EVENING” FOR SOLD-OUT CROWD AT NASHVILLE’S SOMMET CENTER
Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Taylor Swift Join Urban in Four-Hour Concert Benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
Crowned as “one of the greatest open-mike nights ever seen in Nashville” by host Keith Urban, an all-star concert featuring nine top country acts and four hours of non-stop hits drew countless standing ovations from a sold-out crowd of 14,000 at the city’s downtown Sommet Center—all to raise funds and promote fan support for the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.
“We’re playing for the Hall tonight, and for the Museum,” Urban told the cheering crowd in his opening set with his road band. “It is a very important evening.”
It also was a musically rich evening, with rousing versions of familiar hits coming from long-established stars Vince Gill, Faith Hill and Brad Paisley and from hot newcomers Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Taylor Swift. All of the artists donated their time in Nashville’s first arena-sized benefit as part of the Museum’s ongoing All for the Hall fundraising program.
The October 13, 2009, concert was organized by Urban following the All for the Hall initiative started by Gill, the Museum’s board president. Gill had issued a challenge for country music artists—from major superstars to hometown heroes—to donate one evening’s proceeds a year to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Urban, calling the initiative “a wonderful and important idea,” rose to the challenge by announcing, during a previous sold-out tour stop in Nashville, that he planned to host a benefit that he dubbed We’re All for the Hall at the Sommet Center on October 13 and to invite several of his musical friends. The tickets came at the bargain price of $25 to encourage family involvement during difficult economic times. Once the tickets went on sale, the show sold out in a matter of minutes.
Throughout the evening, Gill repeatedly thanked Urban for his hard work in organizing the event and commended his idea of “inviting all the people who opened for him over the last year or two” to be part of the show—a list that embraced all the young newcomers on the nine-act bill.
Urban’s hour-plus opening set included the hits “Days Go By,” Stupid Boy,” Who Wouldn’t Wanna be Me?,” “Sweet Thing,” “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” “Kiss a Girl,” “Better Life” and others. Mid-show, he took an acoustic guitar and sat on a stool at the end of a center ramp extending into the audience for a solo performance of Dolly Parton’s classic “Coat of Many Colors.” He introduced the song as “an example of the music that influenced me and brought me to this country.”
Paisley appeared during Urban’s set, performing “Start a Band,” which Paisley described as “a song about a couple of guitar geeks.” The two left the stage and played guitar while walking into the crowd, both climbing stairs up to the second level on opposite sides of the Sommet Center without missing a lick. “What a great cause,” Paisley said at the song’s start.
After a break to change stage sets, Urban was joined by Gill and an all-star band assembled especially for the evening. With keyboardist John Hobbs as musical director, the five-star unit included Eddie Bayers on drums, Paul Franklin on steel guitar, Dan Huff on guitar, Michael Rhodes on bass, Bryan Sutton on acoustic guitar, and Pete Wasner on keyboards.
Opening the concert’s second half, Gill performed an extended “Liza Jane,” trading lead guitar lines with Urban throughout. He then dedicated “Whenever You Come Around” to its inspiration, his wife, Amy Grant, who waved at him from the crowd. Gill called Urban “one of my favorite musicians on the planet.” Insuring that the evening would be a one-of-a-kind event, both superstars played lead and rhythm guitar and offered occasional harmony vocals for the rest of the evening’s performers.
“I would love, in my lifetime, to say I stood on a stage with Vince Gill and Keith Urban as my guitar players and sing a song,” Taylor Swift beamed to the crowd as she raised both hands acknowledging the two famous musicians behind her before starting into her #1 hit “Love Story.” Like the other guest artists, Swift performed two songs, opening with her current hit, the poignant “Fifteen.” She also announced that she was donating the acoustic guitar she used for her songs to be auctioned off by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Auction details will be announced later this week.
Others offered testimonials throughout the evening. Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town recalled how she visited the Museum in its previous location when she was 12 years old. “I think that’s what lit a fire in me,” she said. Bandmate Karen Fairchild added, “Thank you for protecting the Hall of Fame, our greatest treasure.”
Little Big Town performed “Fine Line” and “Boondocks,” showing off their outstanding four-part harmony. Bentley performed energetic versions of “Sideways” and “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),” running from side ramp to side ramp while encouraging the crowd to sing with him.
The trio Lady Antebellum—Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott—cited the pleasure of playing with such a great band when performing their #1 hit “I Run to You” and introducing their newest single, “Need You Now.” Jason Aldean rocked things up with “Big Green Tractor” and “Country Girl,” the latter of which allowed Urban to show off his hard-rock riffs on guitar. Faith Hill reached back in time by singing a soulful “Let Me Let Go” and a dynamic “Piece of My Heart,” which was closer in tone to Janis Joplin’s version than to Hill’s 1994 #1 country recording of the song. Taylor Swift wrapped things up with her two songs before an all-hands-on-deck jam on “Lay Down Sally,” featuring eight of the evening’s acts on stage while Gill, Urban and producer Dann Huff took lead guitar turns.
Near the end, Gill asked Urban, “Hey Keith, this thing turned out all right, didn’t it?” Urban’s tongue-in-cheek answer, “It’s getting there!” prompted a response from Gill, “Well, then, what do you say we do it again next year?” To the cheers of the crowd, Urban agreed, pinpointing October 5, 2010, as the date for another Urban-hosted All for the Hall event at the Sommet Center.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.com or by calling (615) 416-2001.