Brad Paisley and REO Speedwagon

Alan Poizner for Sony Music Nashville

Alan Poizner for Sony Music Nashville

REO Speedwagon join Paisley for surprise performance at annual Country Radio Seminar event

The General Jackson river boat was rockin’ last night as Brad Paisley welcomed surprise guests REO Speedwagon on Sony Music Nashville’s 27th annual cruise. Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies, Chris Young and "X Factor" winner Tate Stevens were among the artists who performed for radio programmers, execs and media gathered for Sony’s big Country Radio Seminar showcase.

Sara Evans, Love and Theft, Casey James, Tyler Farr and Joanna Smith were among the artists schmoozing with the predominantly radio crowd as the General Jackson cruised the Cumberland River. Young could be seen chatting with programmers and hoisting his glass for a toast as he worked the crowd right up until show time. When his turn came to take the stage, Young performed his current single, "I Can Take it From There" and "All Y'all," which is among the new tunes he’s been working on for his next album.

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He took a moment to thank RCA for sticking with him despite his slow start. "When I started out, my first single failed. My second single failed. My third single failed,” he said. “But for whatever reason, RCA Records believed in me enough to send me out to see you guys again and you guys believed in me enough to play my fourth single, [“Getting’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)”] which ended up being a No. 1. Thank you so much!”

The evening was filled with many other stellar performances. Jerrod Niemann delivered his current single “Only God Could Love You More” then had the audience singing along to his No. 1 hit “Lover, Lover.” 

Clarkson wowed the crowd with her new single, "Don't Rush," and was joined by Jason Sellers who sang Vince Gill’s part. "He was amazing singing the demo," Clarkson said. "I was like, 'Holy crap! Who is that?" Clarkson welcomed the Pistol Annies back to the stage to sing back up on a new tune “Ain't Gonna Like This."

Paisley treated the crowd to two new tunes from his April 9 album, "Wheelhouse." The clever "Harvey Bodine" had the crowd roaring in laughter and the new single, “Beat This Summer,” had folks swaying along to the catchy melody. Throughout the evening there were rumblings of a surprise guest. So when Paisley began crooning, "Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you been messin’ around” the crowd erupted as REO Speedwagon took the stage and launched into "Take It On the Run." After the song, REO's lead vocalist Kevin Cronin commented on how the lines “between country music and rock have never been grayer” and that he could take any REO song, sit down with a guitar and play it and it would be country. "It's all country music," he said as the crowd cheered.

Paisley was smiling from ear to ear as his blistering guitar skills melded with the legendary rock band in what Cronin dubbed the “first performance of the REO Paisley Wagon!”

The crowd enthusiastically sang along on hit after hit as they performed "Music Man," "Keep on Loving You," "Time for Me to Fly" and "Ridin' the Storm Out."

Evans, Young, Stevens, Niemann, Pistol Annies and the rest of the evening’s performers joined the stage for the finale "Roll with the Changes."

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