Cagle Rocks The Grandstands
Singer says he owes success to "Cagleheads"
Someone told Chris Cagle he's the "biggest thing that has
ever happened to Miami County." But the country music singer told nearly 2,000 fans at the Miami County Fair Grandstand last night that it was the other way around.
"You guys are the biggest thing that has ever happened to us," he said.
The Texas man's music began to top country charts in July 2000. He won CMT's fan-voted "Breakthrough Artist of the Year" in 2002.
Sunday night's concert, which brought fans from Pennsylvania and beyond, was the first of its kind at the fair. Businesses made it possible, Ty Hissong, entertainment committee member, said.
Auto dealers Dave Arbogast Buick-Pontiac-GMC Truck Inc., Troy Ford, Joe Johnson Chevrolet-Oldsmobile, Poor Farmers RV Sales, Service and Campground, and Erwin Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep Inc. provided half of the $30,000 needed to book Cagle.
About the time a portable stage crew from Sandusky County began set-up, more than 12 hours before the 7:30 p.m. concert, Jen Bowerize, a 35-year old from Ashland, was on the road.
By noon, Bowerize claimed her spot in the front of the reserve track seating line, $15 ticket in hand. The first official Caglehead -- what members of Cagle's fan club call themselves -- Bowerize was "ready to rock" and add another Cagle concert to the list of the more then 100 she's already attended.
But, before the concert Cagle greeted her with open arms and a welcoming "Stranger! How ya doin'?"
Cagle, tired and running a fever, kept tradition and held a private meet-and-greet backstage, something fan club members can do three times a year.
Nicki Purdie of Akron and Jackie Marcelonis of Mansfield cashed in their vouchers. The two women met at Cagle's first concert in July 2000. They fought over a seat then but, four years later, consider themselves friends brought together by the more than 30 Cagle concerts they've each attended.
"He gets to your heart," said Purdie, who proudly wears a tattoo bearing Cagle's name.
Marcelonis said it's his passion for people that won her over.
"I went to a concert without my daughter and he looked over and asked, 'Where's Lauren?' Out of all the kids there, he missed her." Marcelonis' 13-year old daughter and Cagle had traded recordable photo frames.
"I wish I could take credit for it," Cagle said of his interactions with fans. "Some folks I've got to be honest with and tell them I don't remember their names. But some folks I do remember, and it's nice when that happens."
Chris Smith of West Virginia certainly didn't expect a "hello," but Cagle made special mention of him mid-concert. Smith, servicing in the U.S. Navy, returned from Iraq Saturday night. Girlfriend Kari Baker of Piqua sent a letter to the fair board, requesting the surprise announcement.
"Thanks for the freedom man," Cagle said, before dedicating No. 1 hit song "I Breathe In, I Breathe Out."
Cagle, dressed in tattered jeans, black T-shirt, and black cowboy hat, and his five band members performed 14 selections. For Cagle, this career took root in his childhood.
"When I was a kid, I got a bug. I got older and it wouldn't leave me alone," he said.
Long hours on the road are common now.
"I'm a ghost. I haven't slept in my own bed since June 8th," he said. "It's not difficult for me, though. I'm nomadic by nature. I go show to show, city to city, wake up and don't know the date, but know the city and time I go on. It's part of paying my dues."
The goal, wherever he performs is to "leave it all out there because I might not make it home," he said. "That's the nature of life. You never know when your last day is."
For now, Cagle said he plans to do what all successful entrepreneurs do: put in time and put it in, in a wise way. For now, the plan is to solidify the midwestern fan base.
"I'm a consumer-driven artist," he explained.
Cagle's next stop is the Iowa State fair on Tuesday.
He'll return to Ohio, August 26th for the Portage County Fair and October 16th, for a Nutter Center performance with Rascal Flatts.
Article and interviews by Olivia Fessler – Editorial Intern, Troy Daily News