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Concert review: Chubby Checker pulls the crowd in

“Show me what ya got” became the running theme of rock ‘n’ roll dance icon Chubby Checker’s set Wednesday night in the Grandstand of the Freeborn County Fair.

You’d never know the singer was 76 years old after seeing him dance across stage, walk up and down seating aisles to sing with the crowd and dance with his adoring fans.

The South Carolina native said he loved fair settings, as they remind him of his own rural roots — growing up picking cotton with his father and growing tobacco in a small town. He first realized he wanted to sing and entertain when he went to a county fair at a young age with his mother and saw musicians performing.

Checker was backed up by the Wildcats Wednesday night at the Freeborn County Fair. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Checker sang a mix of his own hits as well as covers of other music legends — Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, to name a few. He told the crowd about his time meeting Elvis and how starstruck he was — even though “The King” made him wait over an hour to meet him, Checker said laughing.

He was backed up by the Wildcats — comprised of guitar and bass players, a saxophonist, a drummer and a keyboards player.

The singer never let the crowd take a break, between getting those in attendance to sing along with such songs as “Hooka Tooka,” “Loddy Lo” and “Mary Ann Limbo,” and then getting the crowd to dance — either in their seats or up on stage with him. Checker came out into the crowd a number of times during such songs as “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” going so far as the Grandstand seating to get people on their feet and dancing.

Over a dozen fans went up onstage to dance with Chubby Checker during “The Twist.” – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The music legend capped off the night singing his most-known hits, “The Twist” and “Let’s Twist Again,” bringing fans up on stage to dance with him.

“This song has been with me most of my life,” he said before breaking into “The Twist,” which is the only song to hit the No. 1 position twice in two different years. The song in 2008 was named the No. 1 song of the Billboard Hot 100’s first 50 years.

“I wish all of Albert Lea could be up here,” Checker said, before dancing with everyone he brought up on stage in one big grand finale.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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