Gashouse Annie

Concert Review

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Loretta Lynn, Pepsi Cola Roadhouse, Burgettstown, PA March 5, 2004

After country legend Loretta Lynn won two Grammys for her recent genre-bending CD, it's easy to forgive her the stage oddities that occurred Saturday at Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse.

After postponing her December concert following back surgery, the 69-year-old Lynn said she would have "crawled" to the Roadhouse if she had to despite lingering discomfort compounded by an illness.

Her six-piece band, three backup singers and The Lynns, her twin daughters Peggy and Patsy Lynn, warmed up the crowd before the Grand Ole Opry star, in a pink sequinned ball gown, was greeted with a standing ovation. Lynn opened with Shel Silverstein's "Hey Loretta" before resting in a plush chair at center stage and prompting the audience to call out their favorite songs.

The concert began to falter, however, when Lynn couldn't remember the words to most of the requests. While she sang at least parts of almost 20 songs -- including "When the Tingle Becomes a Chill," "Blue Kentucky Girl," "The Pill" and "One's on the Way" -- many of the songs got only as far as a verse and a chorus before fizzling out altogether. Daughter Peggy Lynn sat at the back of the stage doubling her mother's vocals and filling in the missing words.

Performing without Jack White, her partner and producer on the new "Van Lear Rose" CD, Lynn made it through the album's "Portland, Oregon" and "Family Tree." But the show soon spiraled out of control. Backing vocalists rescued Lynn by standing in front of her and singing covers, and The Lynns returned with a couple of impromptu songs, while Lynn sat awkwardly in the chair. After an uncomfortable hour, she was prompted to sing her namesake song, "Coal Miner's Daughter," and was finally whisked off stage.

Pittsburgh's Gashouse Annie, fronted by songwriter Shirley Dragovich, opened with a solid set of original country songs from the band's CD, "He's a Rambler." Although the CD has been largely ignored by local radio, Gashouse proved yet again that they are one of the area's best artists, deserving of much more attention.

-- Review by John Hayes,
Post-Gazette staff writer