When it comes to country music in the playlist, I’m continuing on with some of the acts that I’ve been able to see live in years past — often times getting right up close to the stage to shoot some photos in the process — at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.

Alabama: left to right, Mark Herndon, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook, Randy Owen

I remember when the group Alabama came to town.  Their biggest-selling albums may have been behind them by the time I saw them in the early ’90s, but they were still a hot ticket then.  They were still cranking out songs that got plenty of play on the airwaves.  The one down side to that show was the fact that bass player Teddy Gentry — one of three cousins in the group along with lead singer Randy Owen and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook — was sick that night and couldn’t perform.  But the replacement bassist did just fine, and along with the other mainstays and Mark Herndon playing like a rock star on the drums, it was all good.

I remember when Alabama was still relatively unknown on the country charts.  It was 1980, I was in my late teens and I was working as a country disc jockey.  I remember the music director  at the station showing me a new single by a group called Alabama, and he talked highly of it.  The song was called “My Home’s In Alabama.”  On one side was a shorter radio cut.  That was the one that would get the airplay.  On the “B” side was the full song that lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes.

Being the “rebel” that I was, I played the longer cut whenever I could.  That was the version that showed Alabama in all its country-rock promise, the version that pushed the boundaries.

I followed the band from then on through following years, enjoying the group’s rise to superstardom and remembering when I used to play that one long Alabama song on the radio.

Those were fun times.

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