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Old school glam rocker tries fitting in with the class of '05

The Vault 350, Long Beach, Cal., Jan. 25, 2005

By Dan MacIntosh

LONG BEACH, CA - A multi-artist concert from KZLA was billed as the 2005 class of country artists, but it was headlined by an old school rock and roller who was trying desperately to fit in with a new school.

That formerly big-haired ex-metal-er was none other than Bret Michaels of the glam-metal band Poison. Additionally, there were also a few Nashville Star alums, a blonde-headed songstress and a new trio in this (mostly) youthful package.

Michaels may be running with the country crowd these days, but the music he made with just a couple of acoustic guitarists primarily sounded like acoustic rock. His set list included the ballad "All I Ever Needed," as well as a rousing cover of "Your Momma Don't Dance." But his acceptance from today's country audience probably says more about how far country radio has strayed from its traditional musical values, than it does about his stylistic credentials.

Josh Gracin, a recent Nashville Star winner, provided plenty of hunk appeal with his portion of the program. His best moment came with "The Other Little Soldier," which reached straight for the tear ducts because of its lyric about a soldier that must leave his young son at home to go to war.

The men may have closed this show, but the first three acts all featured female vocalists. The night began with Sugarland's sweet, mandolin-spiced country music. This trio was followed by Katrina Elam, who showed off her strong Georgia roots by breaking into a little authentic yodeling. Miranda Lambert, who recently took third place on Nashville Star, sang with a toughness that contrasted with Elam's beatific softness and was most impressive on her cover of John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery."

While everybody in this lineup is talented, one would be hard pressed to pick out a single shooting star. Instead, except for the veteran Michaels, all of these students still seem to need just a little more seasoned schooling. But that's just one educated guess.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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