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Review of Schuylkill County Fair performance
Cagle wows Schuylkill crowd

BY DANIEL A. THOMAS JR. Graphics Artist
[email protected] 08/07/2004

SUMMIT STATION — If there was any doubt about Schuylkill County and country music not mixing, Chris Cagle silenced the critics.

The country music star performed Friday night at the Schuylkill County Fair before a crowd of about 1,200 that was seated as far back as the Schaffer's Harley-Davidson/Buell booth and standing about 10 deep around the chairs set up before the M&T Bank Stage.

Fans had begun setting up their lawn chairs — and even some hay bales — in front of the stage as early as 9 a.m.

"I was told that you weren't allowed to set up chairs until 2 p.m., but it's only 11 a.m. and look at the amount of chairs. I'm definitely claiming my spot now," said Lauren A. Smarkanic, Frackville.

Before his 8:30 p.m. performance, Cagle took a moment to have a meet and greet with his fans, an important aspect of his life.

"Meeting the fans is what I do ... If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be where I am today," said Cagle as he prepared to hit the stage.

The Schuylkill County Fair was a smaller venue than what Cagle is used to, but according to him it's like returning home.

"Playing at smaller venues gives me the opportunity to return to my roots, to the type of setting that I originally started at," he said.

Cagle didn't take to the stage like most other artists. He rode a recently built Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the stage and performed his classic "Laredo."

That got the party going.

"I want to hear everyone out there, when us country folk get together for a party. We do it right, so let's do it," said Cagle.

The toughest job of the night belonged to the security guards.

"Bringing a person in of Chris' stature is a major accomplishment for this fair," said Charles I. Kerschner, owner of CEK Entertainment, Schuylkill Haven. "Security is extra tight for someone like this."

Much to Cagle's dismay, security guards were telling fans who were standing in front to sit down.

Before performing his hit, "My Love Goes On and On," he asked, "Who wants to stand and party?"

After a huge showing of hands, he told the security staff to leave his fans do what they want.

Cagle made the crowd go crazy as he entered the audience. He even sat down on the lap of a female sitting in the front row.

"Fan interaction is another reason that I really enjoy about coming back to smaller places like this," said Cagle.

After singing a few songs that got the crowd going, Cagle slowed things down with his 2002 hit, "I Breathe In, I Breath Out."

"This is a song that I wrote a while back about a female that was in my life, but that's OK," he said. "I don't even remember her name right now, but this song is dedicated to the family of all those families who have someone serving overseas, providing us with this blanket of freedom that we call home."

Halfway through the song, Cagle pulled a flag out of the ground in front of the stage and placed it on the end of his guitar. At the end of the song, he handed the flag to a young girl.

Cagle went on to perform "Country by the Grace of God" as his last song, but those in attendance knew that he wasn't finished.

"People have to yell to get him to come back," said Smarkanic as the crowd began to chant, "Cagle! Cagle! Cagle!"

Cagle made his way back to the stage with stool and guitar in hand and performed the country version of the Elton John classic, "Rocket Man," with the crowd's help. He added his own lyrics toward the end, calling himself a "Pennsylvania Man and a Redneck Man."

That got the crowd cheering.

As the song ended, Cagle's band re-entered the stage. As the bass kicked, the audience knew what was coming: "What A Beautiful Day."

By this time, the majority of the crowd was on its feet, waving their hands in the air and helping him sing the song.

After his hour-long show, Cagle left the stage to head to his Saturday performance in North Washington, Butler County.

"It was an awesome show, I'm a big country fan and it's great to see an act like Chris Cagle here in Schuylkill County," said Smarkanic as she made here way through the crowd.

©The REPUBLICAN & Herald 2004

posted: 8/10/2004


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