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Sizzlin' Country show offers a sampling platter of mainly young country

Warner Bros. Studio, Burbank, Cal., May 8, 2001

By Dan MacIntosh

BURBANK, CA - The Sizzlin' Country annual benefit for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation consistently brings out some big names from country music, especially since it occurs during the same week as the ACM Awards in Southern California. This year, the code word was "youthfulness," since the majority of the performers were either green to the country scene, or just plain green.

Greenest, by far, was this evening's host and hostess, Billy Gilman and Jessica Andrews, respectively. Andrews acted as the peppy feminine side of this bill, and chirpy Billy Gilman played the enthusiastic pre-teen.

Although little was required of them in their hosting duties, it was still readily apparent that, without a script, these two relative newcomers have a lot learn about show business. Especially when a little "stretching" is required between acts.

Andrews was the headliner this year, probably because of the concurrent success of her hit single, "Who I Am." This song was the highlight of her concert-closing two-song set.

She was preceded by the only one-song performance (two songs was the standard), a duet between Tracy Byrd and Mark Chesnutt on their single "A Good Way To Get On My Bad Side." The song is a litany of what they think is wrong with the world. Its best line is the crack they take at today's glut of boy bands in the musical marketplace. It's an easy target, but maybe if it's continually stabbed with steely knives, we just may eventually kill that beast.

Lila McCann, who is only slightly older than the hosts, sang the new "Come A Little Closer," in addition to her hit "I Wanna Fall In Love."

Andy Griggs debuted his new single "How Cool Is That," which speaks about love for the preacher's daughter, before closing with his hit ballad "She's More."

Trick Pony's rockabilly-influenced performance couldn't have come soon enough, as it followed the lull created by this event's charity auction. The trio quickly woke up the audience, especially with the fiery "Pour Me."

Tammy Cochran's performance of "Angels In Waiting" received the night's only standing ovation. She was almost in tears as she sang this ode to her two brothers who died from Cystic Fibrosis. It was a moving experience for performer and audience alike.

Gilman looked much more comfortable singing into the microphone, rather than speaking into it as he introduced his new single, "My Girl," and also sang his breakthrough hit "One Voice."

With just an acoustic guitar, Carolyn Dawn Johnson made an immediate impact with her smoky-voiced performances of "Georgia" and "Complicated."

Unfortunately, Keith Urban tried to play guitar hero on a new song about running from the law, even though he was all acoustic this time out. But since "But For The Grace Of God" is such a fine song, his two-song set wasn't a complete waste.

Tim Rushlow opened the concert with his heart-tugging "She Misses Him," and closed with "Crazy Life," a single he claimed would appear on a yet-to-be-named label.

Although this concert can best be summed up with the description of sampler platter, it was still a tasty treat, nonetheless.

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