A couple of years ago it would have been unthinkable to schedule two major country music concerts within six days of each other. But times change.
Not only is country music more popular now, but people are less timid about sinking hard-earned bucks into entertainment. And for country music fans, the entertainment doesn't get any better than the middle of April.At 8 p.m. April 15 in the University of Utah's Huntsman Center, Randy Travis - easy king of laid-back country - will be in concert. Tammy "Stand By Your Man" Wynette will open the show, with K.T. Oslin - the hottest female singer on the circuit - also being featured. Call 581-6641 for information.
April 20 will see George Strait and Billy Joe Royal at the Salt Palace. The show starts at 7:30. Baillie and the Boys will open that one.
Strait and Travis have a proven track record locally, of course. The George Strait show may well be the country event of the year in Utah. His loping Texas style and hummable tunes go down like a dinner with local fans. His songs range from noteworthy ("This Is Where the Cowboy Rides Away") to novel ("All My Exes Live in Texas," "Ocean Front Property").
Travis has less charisma - and less stage presence - but he does have that gorgeous country baritone voice that's mellow enough to sing babies to sleep.
Both singers get much of their staying power from the fact their taproots are sunk deep in country music traditions - Strait's lineage leading back through the Bob Wills and Western Swing line, Travis coming to us out of Lefty Frizzell.
On the Travis show, Tammy Wynette will take a run at a comeback. Her new album is out and stations have begun to play a few of its cuts. She's best remembered as the embattled wife of singer George Jones and the woman who sang "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" in the background for the movie "Five Easy Pieces." She hopes to update that resume, and hopes Utah will be a good place to start.
K.T. Oslin didn't make it big until she hit an age when careers are winding down, but she showed such a gutsy, bluesy voice in songs like "Come Back" that she couldn't be stopped.
In the April 20th show with Strait, Billy Joe Royal - who many remember as the "Down in the Boondocks" boy, will be offering up his own version of country music. He pitches it a little higher and faster than most country artists, but the pain's the same.
Baillie and Boys will be a nice edition to that show, with their supple harmonies and uptempo rhythms.