Like the aftermath of too many rounds in a dirt-floored honky-tonk, a Toby Keith show is something of a sloshy emotional roller coaster. From the cheeky sing-along “Red Solo Cup” to the sweeping tribute “American Soldier,” Keith leads the (usually packed-house) crowd from laughing and waving drinks in the air, to hardly a dry eye in the house, and back again.
But those who might accuse Keith of being the Rootin’ Tootin’ Republican Poster Boy and pandering to patriotism miss the depth and sincerity that bleeds through everything he does. Keith is an outspoken artist who truly walks the walk. With his dusty Oklahoma roots, he is an American original, defying the narrow labels people try to stick on him. He is a tireless supporter of veterans causes and a frequent visitor to overseas bases. Keith was actually a rootin’ tootin’ registered Democrat up until 2008, when he switched to the Independent Party.
He’s also a savvy businessman. Forbes magazine pegs his lifetime earnings north of $500 million, putting him at the Jay-Z and Beyonce table. His Big Machine record label owns a stake in Taylor Swift. His Lear jet is custom-painted Oklahoma Sooners colors red and cream.
But on stage, he presides over one heckuva honky-tonk. When Keith rolls into town for a show at 7 p.m. July 15 in the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, expect a lot of cowboy hats, Ford logos, American flags, salutes to the men and women of our Armed Forces, and some great old-school gee-tar boot-stompin’ country music. Eric Paslay opens the show.
Tickets are $20 to $90 (livenation.com, Ticketmaster).
– Robbie-Ann McPherson