I’m sure that I’ve made it very clear on a number of occasions that Alan Jackson is indeed my all-time favorite artist, covering all genres of music. Previously, I had only ever had the opportunity to see Jackson perform one time, which was in 2010. When the “Super Bowl Of Country Music,” Jamboree In The Hills announced that Jackson would be performing in the 2016 edition of their yearly country music festival, I knew that I had to be there.
Little did I know, that the opportunity would arise that not only would I be attending this performance, but that I would also be photographing Alan Jackson’s set FROM THE STAGE! It was to the point that I was actually quite nervous before Jackson took the stage! As Alan took to the stage and I found my spot to shoot from, I quickly snapped out of it in order to take in 90 minutes of pure country music.
Alan Jackson opened his Jamboree In The Hills set with the 1994 classic, “Gone Country.” Alan stated that once he had found out that this event would be celebrating the 40th year of Jamboree In The Hills, that he wouldn’t dream of missing it.
In comparison to some other semi-recent set lists, it would appear that Jackson revved this performance up be leaving out some of the slower catalog hits. “I Don’t Even Know Your Name,” “Good Time” and “Country Boy” were among the many that kept the crowd dancing throughout the 90 minute set.
Of course, a few of the slower Alan Jackson staples had to be included. “Livin’ On Love,” Jackson’s cover of Hank Williams, Jr.‘s “The Blues Man” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” not only gave the crowd a chance to wind down a bit, but to also truly take in the sincerity of Alan’s performance.
One song that I most certainly did not expect, “As She’s Walking Away” was performed with one of Alan’s band members in the place of Zac Brown. I’m not sure if this was just a special performance that he decided to throw in or if it is commonplace on Jackson’s set list. Either way, I was very pleased that the decision was made as I thought the song was fantastic upon its radio release back in 2010.
Alan Jackson closed out the main portion of his set at Jamboree In The Hills with “5 O’Clock Somewhere,” “Chattahoochee” and the truck driving “Where I Come From.” While I was able to enjoy some of Jackson’s show from the stage, I made sure to also put myself out with the massive crowd in order to take in the performance as a fan, myself. In my area, we were surrounded by a number of younger festival attendees and it was really great to see that Jackson’s music is still enjoyed by them despite the seemingly lack of radio play his new material tends to receive.
In my experience, encores don’t seem to happen to often when it comes to festival performances. Luckily, in this case, I was dead wrong! Alan Jackson returned to the stage after a brief break to play two more songs: The 1993 hit, “Mercury Blues” and one of my favorite non-radio tracks, “Dixie Highway,” which originally featured Zac Brown as a guest vocalist.
Having performed at Jamboree In The Hills in 1992, 1999, 2001 and 2009, this wasn’t Alan Jackson seemed to be very happy to help celebrate 40 years of the festival. His set was an absolute blast and I hope to see him added for another year in the very near future!
Visit ClevelandCountryMagazine.com for further thoughts on Day 2 of Jamboree In The Hills ’16, featuring William Michael Morgan, Billy Currington and Kid Rock.