Toby Keith, Trace Adkins Honor 9/11 Victims in Special Show
On Saturday, September 11, Americans remembered the anniversary of what we now refer to as 9/11, when a series of terrorist attacks on that day in 2001 claimed nearly 3,000 victims. On the night of the ninth anniversary, Toby Keith and Trace Adkins took the stage at Jiffy Lube Live, a venue in Bristow, Va,.as their mission to entertain the sold-out crowd on this stop on the American Ride tour was intermittently juxtaposed with the mission to flaunt their American pride.
Although Toby's sense of humor was intact during his set, getting laughs on several occasions, he never let the audience forget his allegiance to his country, from the opening number, 'Bullets in the Gun,' to the emotional finale, 'Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American).'
The patriotic crowd was wired for some serious entertainment, screaming their approval during and after each hit song, hundreds waving small hand-held American flags.
Toby delivered hit after hit, including many of his 28 No. 1 singles: 'American Ride,' 'Whiskey Girl,' 'As Good as I Once Was,' and 'I Wanna Talk About Me.' Introducing the high-spirited 'Get Drunk and be Somebody,' Toby shouted, "It's a weekend, right? And it's a pretty important weekend where I come from! How about y'all? I think we should all get drunk and be somebody in Washington, D.C. tonight!" The crowd exploded, much like the pyrotechnics that erupted from time to time during the show.
The big guy spread redneck cheer with 'Trailerhood,' 'Who's Your Daddy?' 'I Love This Bar,' 'Should've Been a Cowboy,' and 'Weed for Willie.' Toby's tender side emerged as he introduced a song he wrote for his best friend, professional basketball player Wayman Tisdale. "There's a lot of people here tonight whose families have been affected by all kinds of things in this world: 9/11 ... the military service," he said softly. Describing him as "the most beautiful individual that I've ever met," Toby dedicated 'Wayman's Song' to his late friend. "I sing this song every night, but spiritually I want it to connect to people who are hurting and lost somebody important in their life. Just know that they're in a better place and that we're not crying because we feel sorry for them, we're crying for us because we miss them."
During his 90-minute show, Toby took time between songs to get some things off his chest. "I will always remember this day forever," Toby told the energetic crowd. "I will never let anybody forget today. I want to do a toast ... I do this toast every single night of the year because, guess what ... when you live in this country, every day is Independence Day. Every day! [September 11] is really special but all blessed days in the United States of America is Independence Day, people! We need to be proud and thankful, and count your blessings every day if you live here. I want to salute all the firefighters in the United States of America on 9/11 for being under-appreciated. Godspeed, firefighters and your families!
"There's a lot of military people here tonight. I want to thank all the wounded soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, the reserves that are here tonight that have been backstage. I want to thank all the Freedom Riders who rode in on their motorcycles today because of the show. Godspeed to y'all. I want to salute the police force, the highway patrol, the FBI and the sheriff's department who keep all this safe ... I want to do a double shot for all my people that are proud enough to wear my country's uniform wherever they are on this big blue and green marble tonight. I know it's hard to believe but I'm a little bit old school, but [just] for giggles, I want to do one for the good ol' U.S. of A because I still think we got a shot. I say whiskey for my men and beer for my horses. Let's saddle up and ride to 9/12!"
As the crowd let out deafening cheers, Toby saddled up with Willie Nelson (courtesy of the background video) and belted out 'Beer for My Horses.'
The last song before the encore, 'An American Soldier,' brought the night to a fitting close as Toby pulled a military man up on stage while the crowd gave him a standing ovation. 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,' capped off the evening as the audience had a chance to acknowledge the real heroes -- men and women from our armed forces who marched out on stage standing tall next to Toby and Trace, singing along to the lyrics.
Trace, who is on his second tour with his old buddy, preceded Toby with a 45-minute rebel-rousing performance. He kick-started his set with 'Whoop a Man's Ass,' with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that the label made him put this tune on his new album, 'Cowboy's Back in Town.' "I wasn't going to," Trace said with a grin. "I was saving it for a children's album I was going to do next year."
He followed with 'Hillbilly Bone,' 'Swing,' which he followed by saying, "I don't worry much about money any more really; I've got me a rich old girlfriend I do favors for," before launching into the high-octance, 'Marry For Money,' bringing the house down. Other songs in Trace's set included 'Ladies Love Country Boys,' a cover of 'One In a Million You,' his new single 'Cowboy's Back in Town,' 'This Ain't No Love Song,' and one of his signature songs, 'Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.' As he encouraged the crowd to sing along to the tune, turning the microphone toward them, he commented, "Do you know how funny it is to hear other people sing that? It's hilarious."
After announcing that his time was just about up, the superstar took a moment to acknowledge the obvious. "Y'all know what today is. I'm not going to preach to you about it. I wrote a song right after that happened. I only do it once a year. It's like a Christmas song to me. I don't ever do it any other time, but I wanted to write a song to take it down to a personal level. I wanted to insult those people on a personal level. If they're offended, I don't give a sh-- ... I wrote this song about the absurdity of misleading people [to] believe if they kill innocent people, they will somehow end up in heaven with  virgins ... that's just ridiculous! So I wrote this song as the devil in first person."
As he sang 'Welcome to Hell,' Trace beat his chest with a clenched fist, and as the crowd rose to their feet, the message was loud ... and clear.
Toby's new album 'Bullets in the Gun' is due October 5. Trace's 'Cowboy's Back in Town' is out now.