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Chris Cagle sings his heart out for the country crowd

Chris Cagle left the music business for a while.

At his concert at the Farm Progress Show on Wednesday, he told the audience he was disillusioned by managers and record companies that were more interested in the money than the music. But even when they came to him and asked him to come back on his own terms, he still hesitated, until his wife urged him to do it. He’d gained weight and he was older and didn’t know if he would still have an audience.

Choking up, he said, “She told me to go out there and sing your heart out, and they won’t care.”

And they didn’t. Cagle’s style of relating to his audience is relaxed and casual. He spoke to several people individually, even asking their names, wished one a happy birthday, stopped a song and started it again because he was touched that someone was singing along and he wanted people to see her doing it.

“That’s the kind of thing that makes me feel like Garth Brooks some nights,” he said.

He introduced a new song by saying that he records for country music fans now, and if the audience liked the song, it would go on his next record, and if they didn’t, it would not. The hook to the song was “I’m Southern, and it ain’t my fault,” and his Midwestern audience roared its approval when he asked if they liked it.

“I hope you’re having as much fun as I am,” he said. “If you’re not, dadgum it, it’s your own fault.”

He said he’s the proud father of three little girls and there would be nothing in his show unsuitable for the children he saw in the audience.

“You will not have to explain anything that comes out of this microphone on the way home,” he said. “We take pride in that.”

He also promised that everyone who bought one of his CDs at the show would get an autograph, no matter how long he had to stay afterward to fulfill that promise.

“I’ll go put on shorts and flip flops and a T-shirt, and I’ll sit there in that tent and sign every record,” he said.

Richland Community College President Gayle Saunders said she expected about 2,000 people to come to the show and, by the looks of the crowd, at least that many were in attendance.

The show was partially underwritten by Syngenta, whose head of corporate communications in North America was in attendance as well. Paul Minehart said the Farm Progress Show is very important to his company and an ideal way to reach farmers with their new products, which include corn and soybeans, insecticides and herbicides.

Sarah Sullivan of Nokomis and Jody Huddleston of Cerro Gordo, who also is originally from Nokomis, won tickets to the show.

“My kids are mad because they couldn’t come,” Huddleston said with a chuckle.

Lori Mullins of Argenta said she and her daughters and mother actually went to the show to see Brushville, the opening act.

“My girls think they’re hot,” she said, making daughters Karson and Katelynn laugh. They got to meet Brushville after their set and have their picture taken with them.

She likes Cagle, too, she said, but she hadn’t heard anything new from him for a while and was looking forward to his new material.

Cagle also is a farmer who lives on a small farm in Oklahoma in what he said his wife calls a “modular home” but is really a double-wide mobile home.

“This show is dedicated to y’all who get up at the crack of dawn and work til the sun goes down,” he said.



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