The Sixth Annual “All For The Hall” concert, held last night (April 12) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, turned into a Merle Haggard tribute.
Several of the performers — all of whom donated their time and talents to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — picked out their favorite Merle song to perform for the sold-out crowd. The show proved to be a mixture of sounds both new and old, hosted by Keith Urban and Vince Gill.
It was tough to nail down highlights of the evening, but here are five performances that people will definitely be talking about in Nashville this morning.
— “Buy Me A Boat,” Chris Janson. The Warner Brothers recording artist just keeps getting better and better in front of a live crowd… and he was already pretty damn good. Quite a few artists performed their newest recording along with a classic during the evening, but Janson’s raucous romp through his breakthrough hit proved to be one of the most impressive parts of the evening. His unabashed joy in entertaining a crowd is infectious, and he looks like he is having as much fun as a Garth Brooks or Urban
— “The Way I Am,” Sam Hunt. One of the biggest stars in the format currently, Hunt takes some hits from traditional fans for not being “Country” enough. If those fans could have been among the 17,000 plus last night, they would see a guy from Cedartown, Georgia who grew up influenced by the greats. One of the best performances we’ve seen from Hunt yet — proof that he is not just a one-trick pony.
— “Kern River,” Emmylou Harris. It was a latter-day Haggard classic from 1985, and the song got a very dramatic interpretation from one of Haggard’s biggest fans. She poured her heart and soul into the song, showing the younger fans and artists there just what it means to be passionate about your craft.
— “Traveling Alone,” Jason Isbell. The Americana favorite likely made many a new fan with a gem from his 2013 album Southeastern. Far be it from this writer to say what is “Country” enough for radio these days, but you could do a lot worse than giving him a chance. On a night where tributes were flowing to one of the format’s greatest poets, Isbell served up a performance that proves why he just might be worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Haggard in about 20 years.
— “My Church,” Maren Morris. The PR department at Sony has been hard at work creating a buzz for this talented singer-songwriter, but with a set that included her current single and a swampy take on Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5,” she lived up quite well to the hype. When she takes to the stage, Morris leaves little doubt that she’s been there — and that she likely has at least a partial deed to it after she’s gone!