Keith Urban: We’re All For The Hall 2013

April 16, 2013
Several generations of country music outlaws, uniting for a good cause, created a formidably rowdy and entertaining posse at the Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

"The theme tonight is outlaws, rebels, and renegades," said Vince Gill, who for the fourth year in a row joined Keith Urban in hosting the annual We're All for the Hall fundraising concert. Near the end of the three-hour show, 76-year-old singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson declared, "This is the best audience and the best band I've ever played with in my life."

The all-star lineup, selected and personally invited by Urban, featured Country Music Hall of Fame members Gill, Kristofferson and Willie Nelson; rockers Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock; contemporary country stars Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw; and country music veterans Rosanne Cash, Jessi Colter, Montgomery Gentry, Billy Joe Shaver and Hank Williams Jr.-whose classic 1979 hit "Family Tradition" provided a sing-along closing number featuring most of the evening's performers.

"I've played everywhere," said Eric Church as he took the stage, "and this is one the coolest things I've ever done."

As in the past, Gill joined Urban on stage for the entire evening. The two showed off their guitar skill while backing the other performers, improvising guitar licks on songs that, in many cases, they hadn't previously performed.

"I've got to take a picture of my guitar players," Adkins said at one point, getting Gill and Urban to pose, then tweeting the photo to his fans and bragging about who was backing him for one night only. The other players consisted of Urban's band along with ace pedal steel guitarist Paul Franklin. Sounding sharp and ferocious all night, the group backed every performer other than Williams, who opted to play solo.

Some singers chose to step away from their hit catalog to present outlaw or country rock songs that influenced them. Brantley Gilbert covered David Allan Coe's outlaw-identified "Long Haired Redneck," and Jessi Colter offered "Why You Been Gone So Long," a Mickey Newbury song she cut as a duet with her late husband Waylon Jennings on the 1976 album Wanted: The Outlaws, a million-seller that helped popularize the term "outlaw" as a country music descriptor. Colter also spoke at length about Jennings, emotionally describing the difficulty she had while grieving his passing. With Urban's permission, she played a snippet from an unrecorded song she wrote shortly after her husband's death, which opened with the line, "You were my mountain."

Church opened his segment with the Band's "Ophelia," showing how the roots-influenced rockers continue to inspire country artists today. Church also sang "Big Mouth USA," a rarely heard song by singer-songwriter Jim Ford, which was issued as a 45-r.p.m. single by Paramount Records in 1973, then reissued by Germany's Bear Family Records in 2009.

Williams also tipped his hat to his friends Jennings, Johnny Cash, and June Carter Cash. During his performance of his 1981 #1 hit "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," Williams said. "Some of my rowdy friends have been called home," and worked in segments of Jennings' "Theme from the Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" and Cash's "I Walk the Line."

Urban and Gill, generous with their compliments and their passionate guitar work, set the tone for the evening by opening with country-influenced rock songs. Urban began the concert with "Tumbling Dice," a Rolling Stones standard that Linda Ronstadt also turned into a country-rock hit. Gill started with "I Ain't Living Long Like This," a Rodney Crowell song that was a #1 hit for Jennings, and then combined two southern rock anthems, Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider" and the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See."

Several performers explained why they donated their time and talent that evening. "It's an honor to be here to honor one of the great American institutions, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum," Rosanne Cash said before playing the country classic "Long Black Veil," which she called "one of the great American songs of all-time."

As in past years, that theme-performing great songs to benefit a non-profit museum that the artists respect and want to help-made for a special evening of music that could only happen in Nashville.

-Michael McCall

Set List:

KEITH URBAN

"Tumbling Dice"

"Without You"

VINCE GILL

"I Ain't Living Long Like This"

"Midnight Rider/Can't You See"

MONTGOMERY GENTRY

"One in Every Crowd"

"Gone"

BRANTLEY GILBERT

"Country Must Be Country Wide"

"Long Haired Redneck"

TRACE ADKINS

"Just Fishin'"

"Ladies Love Country Boys"

ROSANNE CASH

"Long Black Veil"

"Seven Year Ache"

BILLY JOE SHAVER

"I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)"

"Live Forever"

ERIC CHURCH

"Ophelia"

"Big Mouth USA"

JESSI COLTER

"I'm Not Lisa"

Unreleased song (see article)

"Why You Been Gone So Long"

KID ROCK

"Born Free"

"All Summer Long"

JASON ALDEAN

"Take a Little Ride"

"My Kinda Party"

TIM MCGRAW

"How Bad Do You Want It?"

"Real Good Man"

HANK WILLIAMS JR. (Solo Acoustic)

"Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound"

"All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down" / "Theme from Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" / "I Walk the Line"

SHERYL CROW

"Picture" (with Kid Rock)

"If It Makes You Happy"

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

"Sunday Morning Coming Down"

"Me and Bobby McGee"

WILLIE NELSON

"On the Road Again"

"Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die"

FINALE

"Family Tradition"