It takes more than torrential rains and a more than two-hour delay to dampen country music fans’ enthusiasm.
Friday’s first installment of “ACM Presents: Superstar Duets,” the star-studded cap to the Party for a Cause Festival held on the grounds of Globe Life Park, was momentarily side-tracked by Mother Nature, as a strong line of thunderstorms swept through the North Texas region, depositing buckets of rain and sending those in the seats scrambling for cover on the ballpark’s concourse.
Over two hours after its scheduled start time, and once crew members had mostly cleared the water from the stage, the lights were dimmed and cameras positioned to capture the seven performances, stretching over three hours, for a CBS special airing May 15.
Because of the late start, most performances were pared down to a single song, with MC Shawn Parr trying to keep spirits up between acts.
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The soggy crowd, clad in ponchos and clutching umbrellas, didn’t need much encouragement to let loose, cheering raucously for nearly every note.
Brantley Gilbert kicked things off, followed by the odd pairing of Dwight Yoakam and Sam Hunt.
Sara Evans and Darius Rucker needed two takes to get Johnny and June Carter Cash’s Jackson just right, and then Rucker stayed on stage to get the crowd riled up with a cover of Family Tradition. Rucker also presented Mickey Gilley with the Triple Crown Award.
Alabama and the night’s lone North Texas-based artist, Eli Young Band, gave a rowdy showing, as the combination of Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire very nearly levitated the ballpark.
The three musicians sang Cowgirls Don’t Cry, before McEntire performed her latest single, Ain’t Going Out Like That, to ear-splitting cheers.
The night was capped by Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore and Ashley Monroe, with Luke Bryan and Ronnie Milsap shutting it all down, well after midnight.
As with most television tapings, the stop-start nature of the night sapped any real sense of momentum — breaks of up to 20 minutes were common in between performances — coupled with the fact that the musicians couldn’t really use the full stage.
A mat was laid down at center stage, and as the only real dry spot (the rain continued off and on all night), it was treacherous footing to venture out beyond it, although quite a few took the risk, including Rucker, McEntire and Brooks & Dunn.
Saturday should be a smoother affair: The forecast is free from severe weather.
The second night of all-star performances gets underway at Globe Life Park at 7:30 p.m.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713
ACM Party for a Cause Festival
12 p.m. Saturday
Globe Life Park, Arlington
7 p.m. Sunday
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
On television: KTVT/Channel 11
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