The fringe, cowboy boots, vests and cowboy hats have officially landed in Houston. The entertainment portion of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officially got underway Tuesday night when Aaron Watson, headlining his first RodeoHouston concert, took to the rotating stage right after a bright display of fireworks and tipped his hat to the audience.
Opening night was a little different this year as the Texas country singer did something that hasn't been done since George Strait did it back in 2001 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington — a live CD/DVD of his performance. Watson tweeted about it earlier in the afternoon.
With an opening night audience of 51,986, it wasn't the biggest in terms of Rodeo attendance, but the seats at NRG Staidum were certainly filled with some of Watson's most hardcore — and loud — fans around. "I hear ya, I love ya," he shouted back to the hollering fans at one point.
Watson totally dressed the part in a black cowboy hat, tucked-in buttoned-down shirt and, of course, boots and jeans, and he was humble, honored and excited to take it all in. "At first I was a little bit nervous but then I realized this was nothing but a big ol' honky tonk tonight. Playing RodeoHouston is just about as good as it gets," he told the crowd.
Watson took some time to honor the first responders in the audience, asking them to stand and encouraged fans to "look at all these heroes." Definitely some big, deserved cheers eminated from the Houston crowd. He also reminded everyone in attendance that it doesn't matter who's in the White House, we are lucky to live in the United States, which pumped up the crowd even more.
Getting totally caught up in the lyrics of "That's Why God Loves Cowboys," people were two-stepping their way into the nacho line.
"I'm telling you girls, I cry like a baby, I got issues," he said before singing the hit "Bluebonnets" that he wrote for the daughter that he and his wife lost five years ago. Cell phone lights, the new form of lighters in the stands, lit up during this beautiful tribute, while Watson did his best to hold back the tears and sing from his heart. A true cowboy indeed.
"It's hard to believe I'm on this stage tonight," Watson shared with the crowd as he talked about the ups and downs in his career.
The Amarillo native even added some humor to his performance, saying, "All the proceeds from my new album go straight into my wife's purse." If he was nervous, he certainly hid it well.
He did his thing, sang his songs and rolled out like an old freight train — exactly how the Houston Rodeo should be done. The other performers have quite an act to follow. Plus, a fiddle on stage is hard to top.
Needless to say, Houston has waited all year for the rodeo and thank goodness it's back. The stage has been set.
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