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A 'Wrecked' Day of Music and Sun

Douglas Boultinghouse
Staff Writer 

   KSSN 96 held their annual "Blacktop Boogie" event in the parking lot of the ClearChannel Metroplex in Little Rock Aug. 26. The artists performing this year included Jason Michael Carroll, Trent Tomlinson and The Wreckers. Two local acts from Little Rock, Bailey Hefley and Riverbilly, accompanied them. 

   KSSN 96 opened the gates at 2 p.m. to let a crowd of over 1,000 people into the parking lot for the show an hour later. Despite the drastic heat, the fans sat waiting for the show to begin, each and every one in lawn chairs. 

   Bob Robbins took the stage a little before 3 p.m. to welcome and thank every one for coming to their free "listener appreciation" show. He introduced to the crowd Bailey Hefley, a 16-year-old from Little Rock.

   Hefley performed a small set to get the crowd going, including an original song, "A Good Excuse For Makeup," and a cover of Michelle Branch's "Are You Happy Now?” She raved before that she was a huge fan of Branch and could not wait to see The Wreckers take the stage.

   Arkansas' own, Riverbilly has performed at various events all over the nation. The group followed Hefley with a slightly larger set. The songs the band performed included "Countrified" and "Just The Way We Do It."

   Jason Michael Carroll, Arista Nashville recording artist, performed next after resetting the stage. He opened with "I Can Sleep When I'm Dead," which got the crowd going all the way through. His collection of songs included "Honkey Tonk Friends," "Anywhere USA" and his hits "Livin' Our Love Song" and "Alyssa Lies."  The crowd’s response to "Alyssa Lies" was absolutely mesmerizing. 

   Until this show, Carroll was unknown to me. I soon realized I haven't been paying much attention to the country music genre, because I didn't know who the next artist either. 

   The crowd noticeably favored Trent Tomlinson, a Blytheville native of Lyric Street Records. He energetically took the stage armed with his guitar to perform hits "I Was Gonna Leave Tomorrow Anyway," "Drunker Than Me," "Just Might Have Her Radio On," "One Wing in the Fire," "Cheatin' on My Honkey Tonk" and the crowd-pleasing "Hey Batter Batter," which came equipped with the made-up story of a Nashville bar fight.

   Before exiting the stage, Tomlinson took on country legend Johnny Cash. During his performance of "Folsom Prison Blues," he walked his way into the crowd to give the fans in the very back of the parking lot a closer look. 

   An even longer 45-minute wait followed before Maverick/Warner Brothers recording artists The Wreckers made their appearance. The country, folk and rock duo of singer-songwriters Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp brought the crowd into the night with their breezy sound. 

   The pair began their set with a song unknown to me. At this time, standing close to the stage and fascinated by their presence, I couldn't make out the words. Next they sang "Love Me Like That," a song that Branch recorded in 2003 with Sheryl Crow on her second platinum album "Hotel Paper."

   The Wreckers briefly chatted with the audience. This moment included Harp commenting that this concert was sort of a "homecoming" for her. She grew up in Missouri, with a majority of her family living in Arkansas. She even asked the crowd if anyone named Webb was in the audience, joking that they could be related. 

   "Way Back Home," one of the standout songs on The Wreckers' debut "Stand Still, Look Pretty," worked perfectly in place as they continued their set. Up next was the fan favorite "Cigarettes."  The performance entertained despite my hopes that Kelly Clarkson would make another surprise appearance to harmonize with the duo on this track as she had done in Texas. 

   Harp took the opportunity to propose a deal to the crowd. She offered $200 to the first person who would go to the tattoo booth across the lot and get 'The Wreckers' tattooed on them. Their band mate said offered to even pay for the tattoo. This sent one fan racing across the parking lot to get the job done. Only fitting, Harp and Branch performed their acoustic track "Crazy People," the hilarious blues track that closed their album. 

   At this point, Branch left the stage to check up on the tattoo process. Harp took full control with her acoustic guitar and covered Bonnie Raitt's "Angel From Montgomery."  The two swapped places as Branch returned for her solo. She chose her 2002 chart-topping hit "All You Wanted;" her performance sent the crowd soaring. 

   Harp rejoined Branch on the stage as the "to-be tattooed" fan came on stage. Branch signed his back, after finding out that the tattoo booth closed. Harp paid, and the guy vowed to send them the picture on their MySpace page as soon as the job was completed. 

   The duo then began their country hit "My, Oh My," which went smoothly until halfway through when a drunken audience member jumped on stage and harassed Harp. The crazed fan caused no harm to the singer as he mouthed something in her face. She simply proceeded to sing with a look of terror on her face as her band member/fiancé pulled him to the side for the cops to handle. The fiasco ended with a busted head as the man resisted arrest. 

   The Wreckers continued on and closed the night with their number one single "Leave The Pieces," which the audience accompanied by singing along. The show ended as the duo reached into the crowd handing out guitar picks to those on the front row. 

   The incident with the drunken fan led to the cancellation of the the annual meet-and-greet with fans. Overall, the intense heat, long waits and crazy fans only added to the eventful day. 

   Bob Robbins returned to thank everyone again and announced a radio contest the next morning, only available to those at the show. The winner received a signed guitar by The Wreckers. 

   Riverbilly, Carroll and Tomlinson will continue touring around the nation this fall. Branch and Harp plan to wrap their tour in October. The two plan to record solo albums. Whether or not they will reunite for a second duo album is unknown. Just my guess, but I'm pretty sure The Wreckers will indeed be back on the charts in the coming years.


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©The Voice 2007
01/13/2008 03:13:13 PM —