|Wilson entertains into the early hours. (Photos: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
Gretchen Wilson came to the Wood County Fair Saturday to party and she wasn’t about to let some rain stop her, even if it meant taking the stage early Sunday morning.
Two waves of severe thunderstorms struck the fairgrounds forcing the show to be delayed. That meant local phenom Connor Rose’s set had to be canceled. At first the plan was to start at 11 but persistent streaks of lightning delayed that further.
When Wilson, backed by a hard rocking quintet, hit the stage and declared “I’m Here for the Party” it was 12:15 a.m.
It may have been Sunday but this wasn’t church.
Wilson played up her rowdy bad girl image, taking slugs of whiskey onstage and singing a song about a 92-year-old grandma getting stoned for the first time.
That grandma wasn’t the only one flying. Wilson had the sizable crowd that came out screaming and singing on cue.
It was the kind of show that brought Jenny Sekerak, from Hinkley, and her friend Sarah Snyder, from Akron. They were among the hundreds waiting in a line that snaked through the darkened fairgrounds after 11 waiting for the show to start.
“It’s really down to earth. It’s real like,” Snyder said of Wilson’s music.
Brenda Jorgensen and Shawn Hager hadn’t traveled as far. They were from Bowling Green. They’d gotten their tickets as soon as they went on sale, so they were determined to see the show no matter how late it started.
“I don’t have to get up early in the morning,” Hager said.
Wilson told the audience “it was kind of touch and go for a while. We didn’t know what would happen. Glad you stuck it out.”
She jammed the hour-long set with old favorites about whiskey and partying with some new tunes including a new sentimental anthem “One Good Friend.”
That one, released on iTunes, had the women in the audience clutching their female friends, she said.
That tune was a rare break from the non-stop rocking. Wilson, dressed in stiletto-heeled boots, artfully tattered jeans and a tight black tank top, stood flanked by two electric guitarists From the first notes, their preferred gear was overdrive.
Wilson seemed to enjoy their efforts. When she ceded the spotlight to the band for an instrumental feature, she came out, rocketed some T-shirts into the crowd, and then stayed around to grind to the blues-rock groove
Wilson explained that her music was veering more into the southern rock vein of late. She also told her fans that as an independent artist she was getting away from focusing on albums, instead, she was recording singles that she’ll release on iTunes as soon as they’re done.
Sounding a defiant note, she told the audience she wanted to make music for “you all” not some record executive in the three-piece suit.
That didn’t mean she gave the crowd what they wanted when they wanted it. Despite shouted requests from the crowd, she held off her signature song “Redneck Woman” for her first encore, and then rocked some more, sending the crowd off just in time to make last call at the bars.