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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Show Review: Chris Stapleton & Margo Price @ Amsoil Arena Duluth Minnesota

Show Review: Chris Stapleton & Margo Price
 @ Amsoil Arena
 Duluth Minnesota

  I circled this show on the calendar when it came out for two reasons:  It was the first show on the run of dates Margo Price is doing with Chris Stapleton and second, Amy has a college friend who lives in the magical, little-known part of the world called Bayfield, Wisconsin, gateway to the Apostle Islands.   The show was in Duluth, and Bayfield is about two hours away.  Also, it was in the first week of August, which is pretty much the only time I can imagine taking a chance on the weather of upper Minnesota and upper Wisconsin.

    Chris Stapleton is a man at the top of his game- dominating country music while existing largely outside the grosser aspects of it's public "bro-country" persona.  This is not to say that Stapleton is an outsider- he made his Nashville industry bones the old fashioned way: He wrote hits for assholes who didn't deserve them (not Adele).   He spent 14 years in the trenches before he got his shot and then he took it like a guy sitting in a deer blind 100  yards away takes down a prize buck with his sited hunting rifle.

  Although Stapleton himself was not in evidence back stage, you could see that he is a class act- mainly from the craft service buffet, created by an east-Nashvillian with an excellent reputation as a chef.  I also heard that he personally reached out prior to the tour to make sure that any concerns on behalf of the support act were taken care of.  If you know ANYTHING about how opening bands are treated on tour by the headliner, you will realize how rare it is that a headliner would do something like that.

  The Amsoil Arena is a college hockey arena for the local university, University of Minnesota, Duluth, who are a fixture at the NCAA "frozen four" college hockey tournament.  Like everything in built up parts of Minnesota, it was linked together by tunnels and sky-bridges to other buildings in the Duluth Cultural-Entertainment complex- we spent most of our night in the dressing room of another, smaller arena which must have preceded the current one.

   Margo Price's opening set was warmly received by the already full arena.  The show was not a sell out, but according to available information, an arena sell out at the Amsoil Arena in Duluth Minnesota is rare to non existent.   By comparison, the next show on the tour, at a casino complex outside of St. Louis, was a sell out at just under 20k.

  Margo had just released her new EP, Weakness, and I returned from the weekend to this article, castigating "all those responsible" for releasing the new EP.  (Saving Country Music: Quit Releasing Music Via the Short Form EP- with 49 comments)   So mis-guided, that particular take, which is critical of the "surprise EP"- and I just wanted to take the time to say that literally every argument in that post, while perhaps applicable to other artists, is not applicable to Margo Price.

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