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Backstage Observations During the WYRK Toyota Taste of Country

Rascal Flatts' Jay Demarcus in the foreground (photo by Alicia Hughes)
Rascal Flatts’ Jay Demarcus in the foreground (photo by Alicia Hughes)

There are so many things that happen behind the scenes during a presentation as big as the WYRK Toyota Taste of Country each year.  Most of those things you’ll never even notice, but it’s just typical of what happens during a lot of big shows where thousands of people are waiting to be entertained.

For example, how many people knew that Jay Demarcus of Rascal Flatts was sick the night of the show?  When we spoke to him backstage he was coughing and hacking and had taken IV’s.  He told us he intended to head to the hospital on Sunday.

But when he was on stage you’d never know.  I kept thinking to myself is this the same guy we met backstage who looked and sounded so bad?  Rascal Flatts was terrific and Jay’s vocals, to my ear, were perfect.  That’s true professionalism.

There was also the issue of stage space.  The stage was the biggest we’ve ever had in the history of the Taste of Country.  The equipment is loaded on the stage in the reverse order of their appearance during the show, so Rascal Flatts’ equipment is set up toward the back of the stage with Justin Moore’s in front of it and so on.

It means that at the beginning of the show the stage is very tight and there’s not a whole lot of room for the opening acts.  That led to, let’s say, “heated discussions” backstage between at least one road manager and the stage manager.  But those things always seem to get worked out and most of the time the performers themselves don’t even know about it.  They just do their thing and nobody ever notices.

One of the big surprises to even us backstage was actor Johnny Galecki’s appearance during Randy Houser’s set.  Out of the blue….Randy introduced Galecki to help out playing the drums and he was impressive.

And congratulations to Eric Van Houton who admitted to be a bit nervous when he took the stage to open the show.  After attending the show for so many years as a fan, here he was appearing as the opening act.  He said once he got going all those jitters went away and he was off and running.

One thing we can never control is the weather, but boy, did we get cooperation from the forecasters this year.  The weather was perfect.  Even some of the performers mentioned it on stage and backstage.  The guys from Rascal Flatts said that coming from the heat and humidity of Nashville, the air in Buffalo was so refreshing.  So even the performers enjoyed the day as much as the fans did.

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