Saturday night I made the three hour trip south to Williston, ND for an incredible night of country music and fundraising. “Hometown Healing” was a fundraiser at the Williston Area Recreation Centre for the CHI St. Alexius Hospital, which serves a huge area in, and around, Williston.
The evening of music kicked off with Ben Haggard and his brother Noel. They are the sons of the legendary Merle Haggard and they did not disappoint! They started off with “Ramblin’ Fever” and continued to play all the major hits from Merle. “Mama Tried,” “Are the Good Times Really Over?” and “Okie from Muskogee,” among others, which made for the perfect opening act for Clay Walker. I felt like I was transported to the golden age of country music.
Walker and the band took to the stage shortly after, despite being a little tired from flying in from Ireland just a few hours earlier. Clay Walker kicked off the set with “Rumor Has it,” followed by “Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open,” and continued through his catalog of massive 1990’s hits. He even took time in the middle of the show to pay his respects to Jimmy Buffet by singing “How a Pirate Looks at 40.” The crowd roared when he talked about his country music idol and the song that made him want to become a singer, which was George Strait with “Amarillo by Morning.” Clay Walker’s fiddle player brought the crowd to their feet with his incredible fiddle talent. He proceeded to play “Then What,” “Live, Laugh, Love,” “This Man and This Woman,” “For She was Mama,” “If I Could Make a Living Out of Loving You,” and several other hits.
Overall the night was a huge success with the total fundraising tally still being calculated. Not just North Dakotans took in the concert either. There were people from Montana, Idaho, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan all in attendance. My thanks to Marcia Benway and Brittny Mayo for the invitation to join them Saturday night. Williston knows how to throw a party!