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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Buck does it his way, very well

Bakersfield, Cal., Buck OwensÕ Crystal Palace, Oct. 19, 2002

By Dan MacIntosh

BAKERSFIELD, CA Š During one of the show's slower songs, Buck Owens gave his band the hand signal to stretch it out, at which point he stepped down from the stage and into the audience. There he met an old friend standing at the foot of the stage. Earlier in the show, he'd sung Jessi Colter's "Storms Never Last" to this very same guest, but this time he proceeded to slow dance with his appreciative visitor until songÕs end. So while he may not have performed his biggest hit, "Act Naturally," during this particular concert, Buck Owens certainly acted naturally (and kindly) much of this night.

Since this is BuckÕs club, he can pretty much do whatever he darn well pleases, which is why he took requests scribbled on table napkins, wished happy birthday and happy anniversary to audience members and even played a little mandolin and fiddle - in addition to his familiar red, white and blue electric guitar.

But it was this presence of an old friend, whoÕd presumably just lost her husband, that made this night into something special. Rather than just going through the motions Š as he may well do each and every Friday and Saturday night here in Bakersfield Š Owens sang tonight with obvious emotion, and even came to tears on occasion.

This is not to say that all of his songs were sad 'n serious, since he also sang the Halloween-ready "(ItÕs A) MonsterÕs Holiday" and the old standby, "IÕve Got A Tiger By The Tail."

But his more sobering songs, such as "Big In Vegas" and "Streets Of Bakersfield," were sung with tangible emotion, and the ballad "ItÕs Not Love (But ItÕs Not Bad)" even found Owens playing its mournful outro on a mandolin.

It would have been polite if Owens had wished the audience a simple goodnight before leaving the stage, instead of letting the audience gather this fact from watching his guitar tech cart off his instruments a few songs later. But since this Bakersfield legend was in rare form while he was on stage and singing, even such a hasty exit couldnÕt ruin an otherwise wonderful evening.