July 05--ASHLAND -- A second day of ideal conditions greeted Summer Motion 2014 crowds at the Port of Ashland Friday for fireworks and music that spanned decades.
Following a rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by the trio Butterfly Effect and an introduction by radio personality Cletus T. Judd, members of the veteran band Exile took the Summer Motion stage and immediately had hands clapping in the air as they opened with "Give Me One More Chance," followed by "Woke Up In Love."
Singer and guitarist Les Taylor, his right hand bandaged after an accident while exercising, took on the lead vocals as the band continued their set with "Hang On To Your Heart," before the band brought the Summer Motion audience into the act with an extended sing-along during "I Could Get Used To You," leading into "She's Too Good to be True."
Bassist Sonny Lemaire wished the crowd a happy Fourth of July and asked all active duty military and veterans in the crowd to stand, generating tremendous applause from the riverfront audience. Lemaire told the crowd the band actually began in 1963 and is now celebrating 51 years as a group, with honors including their induction to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, then directed the crowd through another sing along on "She's a Miracle," and "Nobody's Talkin'." Keyboard player Marlon Hargis and lead guitarist/singer J.P. Pennington were featured on the song "Keep It in the Middle of the Road," earning individual applause as Hargis pounded out intricate piano lines and Pennington made his well-worn 1964 Stratocaster moan and wail.
Surprising many audience members, the band then performed a medley of songs written by Exile members that became hits for other artists -- starting with "When She Cries," which was a number-one hit for Restless Heart, followed by "Beautiful Mess, which was a top hit for Diamond Rio, into "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy," as made popular by Janie Fricke, and a pair of number one songs for the band Alabama, Take Me Down," and "The Closer You Get."
Speaking of the band's big hit, "Kiss You All Over," Lemaire said the group recorded what they were certain would be their next number one, but explained the tune received absolutely no attention. A few years later, however, a nearly note-for-note rendition of the song "Heart and Soul," became a big hit for Huey Lewis & The News, he said, as the band kicked into their own version of the familiar pop song.
Exile again held the audience with a minimally-accompanied rendition of "People Get Ready," before bringing the entire crowd to their feet with the opening notes of "Kiss You All Over," and closing their performance with a medley of Motown songs including "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."
On the fence dividing the VIP seats from the Port of Ashland's grassy area, Preston Dabbs of Parkersburg could be heard singing every word each time the band asked for support from the crowd.
"This is my 9th time seeing Exile. They are my favorite country band. I have everything they've ever done," Dabbs said, adding he, his wife, Kim, and daughter, Makayla, are Summer Motion regulars.
"I love it down here. We try to be here every year," he said.
A scheduling change between headliner Lou Gramm and the annual fireworks display confused many, as the pyrotechnics began shortly after Exile's performance.
Gramm, who was the voice for the band Foreigner, took the stage immediately following the fireworks finale, performing songs from his Juke Box Hero tour.
Summer Motion continues today with local acts on a smaller stage near the top of the riverfront park, with Kala DeHart and Rivertowne at noon, Sasha Colette and The Magnolias at 1 p.m., Bluegrass Legendary Wrestling at 2 p.m., Madhouse at 4 p.m. and Split Decision at 5 p.m.Nashville'sDavid Lee Murphy is set to perform at 8 p.m. and the evening's headline performer, Molly Hatchet, starting at 9:15 p.m.
For more information, visit the summermotion.com website.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.
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