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Concert Reviews:
Country stars unite for Starts and Stripes benefit at Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019

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DETROIT -- A bit of Hoedown in the winter mixed with the mischief of summer camp as some major country music names came together for the Stars and Strings concerts Wednesday night, Nov. 6, at the Fox Theatre.

An annual event by Entercom Communications and Radio.com, and hosted locally by WYCD-FM, the show benefitted Folds of Glory, a non-profit that provides scholarships to children of military servicemen and other veterans services. Tuesday's performers -- including Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Brett Young, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Maren Morris and her husband, Kalamazoo native Ryan Hurd -- all offered heartfelt messages for the troops and the cause, but they also used the opportunity of being together to not only promote their respective latest singles and upcoming albums but also have the kind of fun they might not have a chance to otherwise.

Which means the flag-waving crowd that filled the Fox enjoyed some real treats throughout the three-hour concert.

Lady A and especially Charles Kelley were ringmasters of the shenanigans, quipping freely with Young and Ballerini, both of whom have opened for the trio before. Talking about their children -- and theme that ran throughout the night -- Kelley informed Young at one point "now that's you’re a dad, you're gonna see your body go to hell. Dad bods are in!" The camaraderie also yielded some musical highlights, particular a first-ever joint live performance of Young's "Here Tonight," which Kelley co-wrote and the rest of Lady A, including three of the group's regular musicians, joining in.

Lady A also provided backing vocals for Young's hit "In Case You Didn't Know" and invited Hurd onstage for its "You Look Good," which he co-wrote. The group's Hillary Scott, meanwhile, sang a bit of harmony on Ballerini's latest single "Homecoming Queen."

Earlier in the evening, Hurd Morris -- who are expecting their first child, a boy, in the spring -- teamed up on Hurd's sweet "Diamonds or Twine," which he released shortly after they married in March of 2018. Morris also provided backing vocals on Hurd's "Michigan for the Winter," and he returned the favor for Morris' first hit "My Church."

Most of the Stars and String acts spoke excitedly about being on the bill with Urban, who many had supported on previous tours, and his seven-song solo set proved worthy of the reverence. The Australian-born country veteran blended older favorites such as "Long Hot Summer" -- which he said "feels very strange" on a cold November night -- and "Stupid Boy" with more recent fare like "Coming Home" and his new "We Were." But Urban really blew the roof off with a long instrumental improvisation during which he used his acoustic guitar's body and the microphone for percussive effects.

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