In Trace Adkins,
Fans See Themselves
‘I’m not some guy that started playing music when I was 16. I earned a living in the blue-collar world for many years.’
by Margaret Tearman
The seasons they are a’changing. Flowers are blooming, sailboats line the Bay’s horizon and flip-flops and T-shirts have replaced fleece and wool. Next week, the sounds of summer will fill the air on Solomons Island when Calvert Marine Museum kicks off its 2006 Waterside Concert series.
You won’t have to listen too hard to hear the first notes, but you would have had to get up pretty early to get the best seats for the museum’s first concert of the summer: country music superstar, Trace Adkins.
Donald ‘Butch’ Dale was the first person in line when tickets were offered in an advance sale to museum members on April 10. “I got up at 3:15 in the morning,” he said, “and I was in line before 4am.”
Dale may have been first in line, but he wasn’t alone in the dark. “There were other people there before me, but they were waiting in the wrong place,” he said, “so they actually ended up behind me in line.”
Kathy Catterton and Alice Reid were second and third in line, arriving just after Dale. “We were freezing,” Catterton said, “so we called Frank Dawson at KIK radio and asked him to send over some hot coffee and donuts. He didn’t send the donuts, but he did play some Trace Adkins music so we could dance around to stay warm.”
It may have been a long, cold night, but the hardy fans think it was worth the wait.
“We wanted to get front row seats,” says Cathy Buckler, one of the early birds. “By the time we got our tickets, there had to be 150 people in line behind us.”
All of the premium seats were sold out the first day of the members-only advance sale. By the time ticket sales went public on April 25, “over 3,300 of the approximately 5,000 seats were sold,” said Vanessa Gill, Calvert Marine Museum’s development director. “We expect a strong sell-out for Adkins’s performance.”
One of today’s most popular country recording artists, Tracey Darrell ‘Trace’ Adkins was born in Springhill, Louisiana, in 1962. He began his performing career in a gospel quartet while still in high school. He sang gospel throughout his years at Louisiana Tech University, where he studied petroleum technology.
After leaving school, he worked on an oil rig for a few years, but the musician in him wouldn’t settle down. He embarked on what he calls his “true musical education,” playing one honky-tonk after another. In 1992, Adkins moved to Nashville, working odd construction jobs to pay the bills while he sang at night and waited for his big break. While singing at Nashville’s Tillie’s & Lucy’s Pub, he was spotted by a Capitol Records executive and was signed to the label.
His working years infuse his music, his attitude and his fans’ view of the artist.
“They know who I am, where I come from, what I’m about,” Adkins says through his publicist. “I’m not some guy that started playing music when I was 16 and that’s all I’ve ever done. I actually had to earn a living in the blue-collar world for many years before I started earning a living doing this.”
He released his Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 in 2003, a few months before being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. His current release, Songs About Me, is the fastest-moving single he’s had in several years, with the accompanying video in heavy rotation on County Music Television.
Calvert Marine Museum’s concerts featuring performers of Adkins caliber have proven a fundraising boon for the non-profit museum. In its 2005 series, the museum put on three concerts instead of the usual two, and this year the concert series continues to grow.
“We plan to do at least three shows this summer,” Gill said, “and hope to mix it up with rock, country and maybe a little of something new.”
This is music to the ears of concert fans like Catterton. “We need more good concerts with big-names like Trace Adkins,” she told Bay Weekly. “We need to draw more people down here and show off how pretty it is.”
With those big-names come the legions of fans, some of whom will wait for hours in the pre-dawn cold for a chance to see their music idols perform.
“I was a die-hard rock fan, not much of a country music fan,” recalls Donald Dale. “But that all changed when I heard Adkins’ Songs About Me. He was singing about me, my life. Now I’d wait all night in line to be in the front row to hear him sing.”
Some 600 tickets are still available for Trace Adkins Waterside Concert at 7:30pm Sunday, May 14, at Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. $35-45: 800-787-9454.