You could tell that country singer Randy Travis felt pretty comfortable on the Penn's Peak stage, Friday night.
He smiled a lot. He told jokes. Most important to the large crowd who came to see him, he delivered his songs flawlessly.
Travis made his fourth appearance at the venue before what was probably his largest audience. The neotraditionalist country star delivered a set of more than 20 songs and virtually every one was met with robust applause.
In one of the jokes, he alluded to the hell-raiser he was at one time, noting that he rode in a police car for the wrong reasons. It's an image that's hard to perceive of Travis, who has an easy-going demeanor and dresses in neatly pressed suits. Also, many of his songs are on such upbeat topics, such as "Three Wooden Crosses," his great-grandfather who "I Thought He Walked On Water," and a devoted love that's "Forever and Ever, Amen."
Of course he delivered some of the hurtin' songs that country fans come to expect, including "1982," a song about a man who lives with regrets from the past, and "I Told You, So," in which the protagonist weighs the option of returning to a lost love but has concerns that she might be reject him.
Last year, he teamed up with Carrie Underwood and they did a remake of "I Told You, So," which had been a big hit for him on the original release and turned out to be one of Underwood's top songs in 2010. The song won a Grammy Award for Travis and Underwood.
Travis was neatly attired in a black suit with a white shirt (no tie) which was opened at the collar. His eight-piece band all were nattily clad in dark colors, mostly black, looking almost fashionably synchronized.
He mentioned that in June, he will be celebrating his 25th anniversary of hits with the release of a new album in which stars like Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney collaborated.
It was in 1986 when his "Storms of Life" album was released, which kick-started his career.
He opened Friday's concert with "Whisper My Name" from his 1994 "This Is Me" album.
Then he sang "Deeper and Deeper" followed by "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart."
He did a combo song of his number one song "Better Class of Losers" and Jackson's "She's Got the Rhythm (I Got the Blues)."
He only did a little talking on stage, spending most of his 90-plus minutes singing. He did mention that for the first 10 years of his career, no record label was interested in him because he was such a traditionalist.
The performer also gushed a little bit about the venue, stating, "This is one of the most fun, great-feeling rooms that we get to work in."
Sometimes opening acts don't get quite the attention that the stars in the concert get, but Nicole Donatone didn't have that problem. From her opening number, Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Feel Lucky" to the closing classic "Blue Moon O'er Kentucky," the audience seemed impressed with her upbeat manner.
She sang songs by Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, as well as selections from the new CD that is expected to be released in the near future.
The next country act scheduled for Penn's Peak is Travis Tritt, who has a concert scheduled Friday, April 29. Travis had such hits as "Here's A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)" and "Help Me Hold On.