Ronnie Milsap Bids ‘Farewell’ At The Sugar Creek Casino [VIDEO]
Saturday night, 1500 + people filled the Event Center at Sugar Creek Casino to say goodbye to an old friend. It wasn't a memorial service or a funeral, it was a party, held to say farewell to country music legend Ronnie Milsap.
The Oklahoma stop on Ronnie Milsap's Farewell Tour proved to be a great evening of entertainment, as the country music legend bid goodbye to Oklahoma. Opening act Risa Binder, a young, powerhouse of a vocalist who came to Nashville from Columbia, MD via Brooklyn, NY, got the evening off to a raucous start, putting the songs from her self-debut EP and her current single "Pretty" on display, as well as several classic country standards. The sell-out crowd was definitely swayed by Binder's classic sound and infectious stage presence and were pumped for the main event.
And they were definitely not disappointed.
Milsap took the stage to a standing ovation, quickly apologizing to the crowd for being "late" but adding it was the band's fault they got lost because they let him drive the bus. He launched in to his library of hits, touching on each and every one of his 40 number ones. But it was more than just the music that the legend shared. The stories behind the music that he shared, from writing "Stranger In My House" to recording two #1 hits in Memphis on Elvis Presley's birthday, Milsap had the more than 1500 friends in attendance in the palm of his piano playing hands.
Some of the best stories he told including getting the song "Pure Love" from Eddie Rabbit, and that it included "40 verses". He cut it down to one verse and two choruses and it was a hit. He talked about meeting his hero, Ray Charles, after graduation. Charles asked to play something for him, and while listening Charles told him he needed to pursue his music. Milsap returned to his guidance counselors, who had tried to persuade to instead go into teaching, telling the counselors he was going into music because "Ray Charles told me to." He then talked about touring with Charles before launching into the Hank Williams classic "Your Cheating Heart" a song Charles and Milsap played while touring together.
"I know Nashville is the place where country music was born. It's also the place where it was murdered."
- Ronnie Milsap
Through the night, Milsap honored those that took the stage with him, allowing each of his band members to shine in the own spotlight. This included back-up singer and guitar player Rhonda Milton-Hampton. The Altus native got her chance to shine, performing standards from Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. After Hampton wowed the crowd, Milsap shared the story of the bands Vegas stop, when someone actually had the nerve to hire her away from what Milap called "The Secret Weapon", his tour band. "How dare Wayne Newton."
After all the hits had been played, and all the stories had been told, Milsap thanked the sell-out crowd for the 40 number one hits, promising them he was just done touring, not making great music. He then encouraged everyone to get out and vote in the 2016 election, calling it "maybe the most important one in history." He then went on the tell the crowd that he "would come pick them up and drive them myself, if necessary."
Milsap then thanked the men and women currently in harms way. Those serving home and abroad in the military and those in law enforcement. He launched into "America The Beautiful", with everyone in the crowd rising to their feet and joining in.
And with that, Ronnie Milsap bid farewell to Hinton, OK. It was the final performance of the 2015 leg of the farewell tour. Milsap and "The Secret Weapon" now will take a break for the holidays, returning to the road January 16th in Hiwasse, GA.
Speaking for the 1500+ in attendance at the Sugar Creek Casino Event Center last night, thank you for the 40+ number ones and the 40+ years of great music Ronnie. But even more, than you for one night and the chance to say goodbye.