Randy Travis was a WOW! Kevin Richards is another Jonathan Newell!

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Randy Travis at the Charles Wood Theater last Sunday turned out to be one of the great Glens Falls events of all time.

The country music legend and his wife Mary Travis sold out two shows, afternoon and evening — and they made their mark in Corinth and Glens Falls besides.

Kevin Richards, the local CMA award- winning DJ, produced the event and proved once again he’s a promoter extraordinaire, akin to Jonathan Newell at Hudson Falls’s Strand.

Kevin emceed the Q&A format that led to the Travises’ story unfolding in a moving, engaging, entertaining way.
Three guest musicians punctuated the program performing Randy Travis hits.

Randy Travis, seated, his wife Mary and producer/emcee Kevin Richards. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe
Randy, whose speech is severely limited after a 2013 stroke, even sang a verse of “Amazing Grace” for and with the audience. He closed the night with the single word “Amen” concluding an audience sing-along of his mega-hit “Forever and Ever.” Grown men cried. We hooted and hollered. The love was huge — and wide.

On the Friday before the Sunday show, Kevin brought the Travises for an unannounced appearance at his country line dance night at the Corinth Barn, a popular country venue in Kevin’s hometown.

It was Kevin’s grandma Carrie’s 95th birthday. The surprised crowd whooped, shook hands, posed for photos with the superstar. On the Facebook pictures afterward, the love was huge.

Randy Travis in his peak years played the Grand Ole Opry, arena shows, Madison Square Garden — and that’s surely exciting. But to be beloved in a small town in northern New York where they look you in the eye like a neighbor — that’s another kind of high that no arena show can likely touch.

Kevin also took the Travises to Morgan and Co. restaurant. And backstage, during the show, local folks again connected one-on-one with the stars.

Randy is the best guy ever and Mary the most beautiful advocate for her husband. They only got together three years before his stroke. Mary said they married two years after. He trusts her to talk for him, and we did too.

Such an all-around community share, it brings performers back, gets them talking to other artists — “Man, there’s this little town, great audience, beautiful theater, they treat you right (and, you know, you can make some money).”

Jonathan Newell built the roster and reputation of his rescued Strand in Hudson Falls on such connections.

Why does Martin Barre, the lead guitarist of Jethro Tull, keep coming back? Why did he move in for a week a couple years back to design his big Aqua Lung anniversary tour from here?

You can’t manufacture the audience, or the intimate setting that vibrates the music and the emotion.

After Barre’s first exuberant show at the Strand, artists and crew hung out for hours next-door in the back room of then-Maxwell’s Pub. Maxwell’s fed the guys, they talked shop, swapped stories.

Randy and Mary Travis felt like that. Two heart-felt shows, warmth back and forth between stage and audience, Kevin comfortable with the show biz, respectful and knowledgable of the Travises.

The setting at the Wood was on point — the stars in overstuffed living room arm chairs, Kevin in a smaller version, cozy lamp and side table between them.

They projected images from Randy’s career on the back wall — such a handsome and compelling man. They replayed audio clips from past radio interviews Kevin did with Randy, some decades old.

Kevin is connected in the business, and locally committed, poised to deploy that for the good of a community.

I was thinking, what a dream come true for this kid from Corinth who is still plenty young in his career to take it up a notch on our behalf.

“Kevin Richards Presents” three more shows at the Wood this year:

  • ‘Christmas with Lee’ on Nov. 26, featuring David Maiocco as Liberace. Elvis Tribute Artist Drew Polsun opens.
  • Nov. 27: Grammy-nominated country star Ty Herndon in “A Not So Silent Night” Christmas show.
  • Dec. 18: Aaron Tippin ‘Close Up,’ with special guests Martin & Kelly.

Kevin is already booking Wood events into 2023.

  • On April 22, Grammy-winning, platinum-selling Suzy Bogguss.
  • On Mother’s Day, May 14, Michael Twitty will do a tribute to his country music legend father Conway.

Info: www.kevinrichards.com.

At The Barn country music spot in Corinth — Kevin Richards’ hometown — a surprise visit by Randy Travis and his wife Mary — thrilled a throng. Photo from Facebook
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