Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers opened Saturday’s Meherrin River Arts Council concert by singing the National Anthem and closed the show with “Americans, That’s Who,” a number praising the works and deeds of U.S.
The group also brought off the cuff humor and showed the ability to adjust to unforeseen equipment problems on the fly — circumstances musicians must deal with at times during live performances. Larry Gatlin’s boom mic kept slipping and he was unable to tighten it enough to keep it in place. He handled it with professionalism and humor.
A stage crew member was able to fix the mic stand to keep it in place. Larry thanked him and the stage crew for all the work they had done to have the equipment set up for the show, but he did have a word of warning for the man that fixed his mic stand.
“Wait until you are almost 70 years old and see if you can tighten it,” he said with a smile.
Larry was also using an IFB earpiece to monitor the sounds of the other musicians early in the show, but the IFB apparently had a short and he eventually ditched it and had the sound man turn up the sound monitor in front of him. It was obvious the sound crew, Larry, his brothers Steve and Rudy and the other band members had plenty of experience adjusting on the fly. Once they returned to performing, they were in top form and the sound bouncing through the Performing Arts Center was at a near-perfect mix and level.
“I thought the sound was just right,” Sylvia Allen said.
Another feature to the concert was a screen behind the performers showing pictures from the past with the Gatlin Brothers with musicians Johnny Cash, Dottie West, Kenny Rogers and others. Other pictures from the past included the band with President Ronald Reagan, and Presidents George Bush 41 and 43.
The Gatlin Brothers also sported a few pictures of themselves with former First Lady Barbara Bush, who died last week at the age of 92. In honor of Barbara Bush the band played “He Walks with Me” (In the Garden).
The group performed its top hits through a career spanning more than four decades, including 1975 Grammy Award winning “Broken Lady” and 1979 Single of the Year“All the Gold in California”.
Comedian Mick McKenna of Raleigh, N.C., via Scotland brought stand-up comedy to the stage as the opening act. His thick Scottish accent played well in his schtick of clean comedy. His attempt to display a southern dialect at times was not far off the mark, but it was his explanation of cultural differences between Scotland, North Carolina and Virginia that had the audience laughing throughout his performance.
He talked about how beautiful the beaches are in North Carolina and Virginia. He said they are beautiful in Scotland as well, but unlike the beaches in North Carolina and Virginia, it is a punishment when parents take their children to the beaches in his homeland sue to the cold weather.
He was also puzzled about drive-through automatic teller machines having braile on the buttons.
“That’s handy,” he said.
McKenna’s comedy had people laughing. His accent only added to his act.
“I just loved the accent, he could have talked longer,” Linda Hobbs said.
Saturday’s Meherrin River Arts Council show was the third performance of the 2018 series. The main show “Masters of Illusion” opened the 2018 series on Feb. 17. “Under the Streetlamp” brought rock and roll sounds from the 1950s and 60s on March 17. The 2018 MRAC Concert Series wraps up on May 5 with the Temptations and The Four Tops bringing their classic Motown sound to the Emporia-Greensville Performing Arts Center stage.
Meherrin River Arts Council series and individual performance tickets can be purchased through the MRAC box office. Additional MRAC information is available on their web site located at mrac-arts.com or by calling (434) 634-6001.