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Gentle Giant Don Williams delivers concert full of hits

  • Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Country singer Don Williams sits during his concert last night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
    Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Country singer Don Williams sits during his concert last night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
Published August 26. 2011 05:02PM

When you go to a Don Williams concert, you don't expect fancy stage decor or a lot of dialogue from the singer. You just expect great, traditional country music.

Williams, the "gentle giant" of country who has had 42 singles in the top 10, keeps it basic.

He performed last night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe, with a large crowd in attendance. Backed by a five-piece band, he sang 19 of those big hits. The thing about Williams is there's no deviation from his straight-music agenda. And that's what his fans seem to love about him.

Except for one-word responses to applause such as "cool," or a couple of sentences spoken between numbers, he kept the show primarily music.

What's amazing with the 72-year-old performer is his voice hasn't changed from when he recorded most of his songs in the 70s and 80s.

The delivery in his deep, baritone voice of every selection was flawless.

Williams is a balladeer. While he sings the typical country songs of sadness ("Some Broken Hearts Never Mend"), he also has an ample library of up-beat love songs, including "It Must Be Love" and his megahit, "I Believe in You."

Some of the romantic numbers pursuaded a few audience members to do a little slow dancing in the back of the spacious Penn's Peak auditorium.

Williams walked onto the stage wearing his signature, light brown western hat, toting a large guitar which he strummed during every selection.

When he came on stage, he got roaring applause. He stopped, looked over the crowd, brushed his forehead, then immediately went to his chair and got down to the business of singing. He opened with "Good Old Boys Like Me" from his "Portrait" album in 1980.

"A Heartbeat In the Darkness," which hit number one in 1985, was his second song.

After this selection, he finally opted to talk.

Somebody yelled, "We love you, Buddy."

His simple response was, "Cool."

He added, "I never have a whole lot to say, and I've about said it about now."

Later, he did praise the venue and said he hopes to return.

When he sang "Some Broken Hearts Never Men," a lot of audience members sang along with him.

A highlight was when he sang the 1975 hit "You're My Best Friend." He let the crowd sing the chorus, and it didn't disappoint, belting out the words, "You're my firend when I'm hungry. You're my shelter from troubled winds. You're my anchor in life's ocean. But most of all, you're my best friend."

Williams was so impressed he let the gallery sing the course a second time.

At one point, he looked out at the crowd and stated, "Oh, man. You're too much."

Among the other hits he sang included "If Hollywood Don't Need You (Honey I Still Do)," "Amanda," "Tulsa Time," and "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good."

At the end of the show, he and his band members stood in a line and gave a bow to the audience.

The applause was unyielding, so he sat down to an curtain call performance of "Louisiana Saturday Night."

Opening for Williams was Nicole Donatone of Penn's Peak Radio, who recently recorded her first CD.

She sang selections from the CD as well as cover tunes such as Sugarland's "There's Gotta Be Something More."

More country music is set for Penn's Peak on Sunday when Trace Adkins comes to the venue with Kip Moore. The showtime is 8 p.m.

Jo Dee Messina makes a return visit here on October 1.

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