Nichols shares songs, humor at the fair

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 6, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

Country singer Joe Nichols entertained the crowd almost as much with his breezy humor as with his songs Friday night at the Freeborn County Fair.

Nichols started the show with &8220;Brokenheartsville,&8221; a tongue-in-cheek song from his second album about a man who loses his girlfriend to a guy with a hot car. One of the many humorous lines in the song was, &8220;Here’s to the past, they can kiss my glass.&8221;

It was clear from the outset that Nichols had come to perform, and that he meant to have a good time doing it. He often encouraged the crowd to clap and sing along with him and the rest of the band, and the crowd responded warmly.

But everyone was waiting for the song from the albume &8220;III&8221; that seemed to be everyone’s favorite: &8220;Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.&8221;

&8220;It’s got humor in it. It’s funny,&8221; said Ron Roggeman, who traveled from Mason City, Iowa for the concert.

Larry Peterson of Forest City, Iowa, waited in line for an hour to get his seat right in front of the stage. He wanted to hear the song, too.

&8220;I just like country music,&8221; Peterson said.

Mara Hartzell, 15, came from Lime Springs, Iowa to see Nichols perform. She shared the same favorite song as weel, but she had another reason to see the concert.

&8220;He’s cute,&8221; Hartzell said.

After &8220;Brokenheartsville,&8221; Nichols started up the quirky but sincere &8220;Size Matters (Someday),&8221; a tune from his most recent album about a woman who wants a man &8220;with a big ol’ heart, who can love her like nobody can, big ol’ kisses that go on and on and never end, with a big ol’ smile.&8221;

&8220;Ain’t that right, girls?&8221; Nichols asked the crowd near the end of the song, grinning at the joke and the cheers that came back.

Nichols took it down a notch for his next song, &8220;As Country As She Gets,&8221; the sad &045; and funny &045; story of a woman who doesn’t like anything country but deals with it anyway because she likes a country guy.

The grandstand went quiet again as Nichols started &8220;Impossible,&8221; a number one single from his first album, &8220;Man with a Memory.&8221; People in the crowd took pictures with cameras and cell phones, and by the end of the song, others were wiping away tears as they heard &8220;Unsinkable ships sink, unbreakable walls break, sometimes the things you think could never happen, happen just like that.&8221;

Nichols grew up in Arkansas, listening to Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Jr. He inherited his love of country music from his grandfather, uncles and his truck driver father, giving him a genuine country background.

After the tearjerker &8220;Impossible,&8221; Nichols went back to his roots and sang Haggard’s classic drinking song, &8220;I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,&8221; which Nichols said he’d learned at the age of 4.

By the time the band started up &8220;Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off,&8221; the crowd was ready for Nichols’ wry humor.

&8220;Yes! He drinks beer!&8221; Nichols said of himself. &8220;And that’s not all, folks, I’ve been known to go out and drink a whiskey or two… or ten. But there’s only one thing that makes my clothes fall off.&8221;

The crowd went wild, laughing and cheering.