Aaron Tippin put on quite a performance on Friday night at Penn's Peak.
The country singer had sang all his charted hits, presented a full sack of humor, bantered with the crowd, and at one point, put together a two-wheel bicycle - doing the feat in under three minutes - while singing a song.
The bicycle will be donated to the local Toys-for-Tots campaign, an annual program by the Marine Corps League that gives toys to children.
And it wasn't just Tippin that give the audience in the Jim Thorpe venue its money's worth of entertainment. Opening for him was local performer Nicole Donatone, who recently recorded an album in Nashville and also has made a video to one of her songs, "Red."
Donatone had a good song selection and, like Tippin, showed great stage presence that early put the audience in a toe-tapping, hand-clapping mood.
Tippin, whose hits came mostly in the 1990s, opened his concert very uniquely. He sang two trucking songs, including "Truck Driving Man," a hit for both Buck Owens and Dave Dudley, and "Movin' On." Both are included on Tippin's latest LP, "In Overdrive," available in on-line stores. While singing these songs, he began pulling items from a large trunk, including rubber hose and a generator. At the end of the hose was a trucking air horn.
Several times he blasted the loud air horn during the concert, delighting the crowd while "irritating" one of the band members, the keyboard player, an older chap who complained - during a humorous skit with Tippin - that the the air horn hurt his ears. He pleaded with Tippin not to blow the horn, but Tippin listened to the applause from the audience instead and ignored the pleas.
The third song Tippin sang was his signature hit, "You've Got To Stand For Something." He proudly told the audience that his first-ever delivery of this song occurred in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during a Bob Hope tour. The song became a type of anthem both for Gulf War veterans and for country fans as the lyrics proclaim, "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything. You've got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string."
Other hits on his song list included "I Got It Honest," "That's As Close As I Get To Loving You," "Blue Angel," "Kiss This," and a patriotic number he penned after 9/11, "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly."
It was midway through the 90-minute concert that he pulled a box on stage and proclaimed, "It's tool time."
While singing, he assembled an orange and black bicycle, then called-out Donatone and a marine who happened to be in the audience.
The marine was Sgt. Andrew Rawcliffe of York. He heaped praise on the military, and told about his commitment to the Toys-for-Tots program. He said he puts a bicycle together at all his concerts, adding that he has donated over 1,000 bicycles to Toys-for-Tots.
He presented the bike that he assembled to Donatone, and entrusted her to make sure it is given to the Marine Corps League when the 2012 program begins.
"I don't believe it's Christmas until every child has a toy," he said.
Backed by a six-piece band, he sang numerous songs from the "Overdrive" album including "East Bound and Drive," a Jerry Reed hit; "Driving My Life Away," a major hit for Eddie Rabbitt, and the Dave Dudley anthem, "Six Days on the Road."
Audrey Nichols of Penn Forest Township attests to being a long-time Aaron Tippin fan.
"I haven't seen him since 2000," she said. "He's awesome. His delivery and commitment to who is is spot on."
She continued, "As successful as he's become, he's never lost sight of who he is or who he was. He's just a really nice guy."
Donatone started her concert in high-octane fashion with the whimsical Shania Twain hit, "Honey, I'm Home."
Other selections by her included the ballad "I Told You So," which was first a major hit for Randy Travis then re-released by Carrie Underwood with Travis; and her original songs "Red" and "If You Knew." She sang the Travis song as a duet with a band member.
Up next at Penn's Peak will be "Beatlemania" running wild with "Beatlemania Now," a tribute to the Beatles. This concert is Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and $22 on the day of the show.
It's one of three concerts at the venue next weekend.
On Saturday night, a Led Zepellin tribute occurs with "Get the Led Out." Tickets for this concert range from $23 o $33. The event begins at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, Survivor with special guest Pat Travers Band is on the spacious wooden stage. Survivor is best known for the 1982 hit "Eye of the Tiger." The concert starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $24 in advance and $29 on the night of the show.