There’s a general assumption among county music fans that if Toby Keith is around, there’s bound to be a party. When the curtain dropped and Keith walked out on stage between two pillars of flames and fireworks at The Great Jones County Fair Saturday night, any doubt was erased.
Keith – and thousands of his fans – definitely came for a good time.
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In the hours before Keith and his opener, Thomas Rhett, took the stage the fairgrounds were filled with people obviously there to see the country superstar – girls in short shorts, tanks and cowboy boots, or wearing short dresses and up-dos, guys in denims and button-down shirts with the sleeves torn off, wearing trademark cowboy hats to complete the look, many of them carrying a “red Solo cup” in tribute to Keith’s new party anthem by the same name.
Fans packed themselves shoulder to shoulder on the ground, in the stands and on the hillside waiting for the man who personifies down-home redneck country good times as well as pure patriotic American pride. Areas around the enclosed concert area – near vendors and rides – were lined three to four deep from one end of the fair to the other with those without tickets.
Keith kicked off the concert with a handful of his older hits – starting with “American Ride,” and followed by “Made in America,” with red, white and blue pyrotechnics coming from the sides of the stage – before really turning on the party. It wasn’t until he asked the crowd if they were ready to “Get Drunk and Be Somebody,” then started the song with the same name, that the party really got started.
Keith rocked the crowd for two full hours, delivering greats like “Red Solo Cup” while accompanied by two inflatable red Solo cups on stage, and older hits like “Dirty Water” and “How Do You Like Me Now.”
Keith is known as much for his visits to U.S. troops in the Middle East as he is for his country party songs, and showed both sides of his persona Saturday.
His party ended as strong as it started; accompanied by soldiers onstage, he broke into what became his trademark American anthem written after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” calling on one soldier to sing the definitive chorus, “we’ll put a boot in you’re a**, it’s the American way.”