Centennial concert was biggest in 100 years
By William Kerns

Lubbock concluded its year-long birthday celebration with grace and style in the form of a mesmerizing three-hour concert Saturday at the United Spirit Arena, emceed in often humorous fashion by Lubbock Centennial host Mac Davis.

It is safe to say that Lubbock never has seen the likes of Saturday's concert, with the city orchestra an immense backdrop for a cornucopia of featured musical styles.

Country and rock shared the bill with jazz, music theater, pop, operatic, gospel, classical and traditional Mexican music.

As difficult as it might have been to gather such an incredible lineup of stars with ties to Lubbock, producer Don Caldwell deserved a salute for making every effort to also remember absent Lubbock musicians, both old and new.

Overhanging screens on both sides of the huge stage allowed video messages from the likes of Tommy X. Hancock, still considered the godfather of West Texas music, and new quartet The Cactus Cuties, who were busy Saturday at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night, a benefit.

With Reba McEntire silently looking on, the Cuties sang their own individual birthday harmony for their hometown.

The eyes of many music lovers may have watered while watching a filmed greeting by Doug Smith, who used his right hand to play the piano for a few seconds - this from a professional pianist left paralyzed after flipping his truck in July 2007, who was told he never would play piano again.

Terry Allen and Jay Boy Adams also offered spontaneous remarks about absent Lubbock electric guitarist Joe Don Davidson, presently battling liver cancer in Colorado.

Allen seemed to know just the right song for a musical introduction, and had fun singing about his one-legged dancer named "Peggy Legg."

The Lubbock Legends on stage included singer Donnie Allison, who fought his way back after being stricken with tongue cancer in late 2006.

Joe Ely debuted a new song, "Wishing for a Rainbow," before revving up the musical motor via "Me and Billy the Kid."

Killer performances also included professional jazz saxophonist Tom Braxton's energized and exciting rendition of Steely Dan's "Peg" - and Adams creating a rock guitar trio at center stage with Mike Carraway and Steve Williams during the powerful "John the Revelator," with nine backup singers including St. Marks Chorus members Leon Armstead, Don Armstead and Willis Flowers.

Saturday did mark the only time anyone will ever see "Not Fade Away" sung by Davis, McDonald, Ely, Allen, Adams, Allison, Maines and John Cain of Mariachi Amistad, along with Braxton, English, Smith, Gaschen, Gillas, Cook (with his young son Benjamin in his arms), Johnson, Kneupper and Wilkinson on board, as well.

Photographs © 2009 L. Scott Mann/Picture Mann