Jason Aldean wowed crowd

Published 9:18 am Monday, August 4, 2008

It was all country music and fun Saturday night at the Freeborn County Fair grandstand with a first-time local fair appearance by country singer Jason Aldean.

Performing in front of a full-house crowd of fans in the grandstand, the Georgia native had the crowds on their feet from the first song.

Wearing a cowboy hat and blue jeans, he performed songs ranging from his first single “Hicktown” to “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and “Grown Woman,” which he sang on his album with singer Miranda Lambert.

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A few fans in the crowd held up a “Hicktown U.S.A.” banner and some even stood on their benches to dance and sing throughout the concert.

“Is this a hick town?” Aldean asked the crowd. “It is tonight.”

When he first put out “Hicktown,” he said, he thought “there were only rednecks in the South.” But then he found out they’re all over — including Minnesota, he said.

Aldean, who won the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Male Vocalist after his debut album release, has had five consecutive Top-10 singles since he broke into the industry in about two years ago.

He recently released his second album “Relentless.”

“None of us would have a job if it weren’t for you guys,” he said.

He thanked the crowd for the support of his music.

He performed single “Laugh Until We Cry,” which he dedicated to everybody who has just graduated from high school or college.

He said when he first put out that song, he was nervous about it because it didn’t sound like any of the other songs he had out at the time. It didn’t talk about tractors or rednecks, he said.

Since, however, it has become a Top-10 single of country radio.

After a concert of some of his old and new songs — a concert that seemed short, lasting about an hour — Aldean and the members of his band left the stage.

Audience members chanted “Encore! Encore!” and the singer returned for a few more songs.

Grandstand organizers said they anticipated Aldean’s concert to be the largest one at the fair, and that proved true.

Reserved seats had been practically sold out four or five weeks before the fair even began.

According to his Web site, Aldean calls his music “amped-up contemporary country, with Southern rock and honky-tonk influences.”

He has been playing in clubs since he was in high school and started to make a name for himself after a show in Portland when the audience responded in full force to “Hicktown.”

He performed at some 200 dates last year.