Even without Billy Ray Cyrus, there was a line-dancing joke at Acoustic Jam 2016.
As John Michael Montgomery introduced Joe Nichols in the final round of the three-round, singer-songwriter night at the Lexington Opera House, Nichols told Montgomery he had learned to line-dance listening to his songs. It might have been a slightly more awkward moment than intended, but it was emblematic of the good-natured fun and unadorned music-making at the third annual edition of the event, presented by WBUL-FM 98.1.
As in previous editions, it was a round-robin, singer-songwriter night. Each performer played three songs, most backed by small ensembles, in groups of four. This, Flatwoods native Billy Ray Cyrus was a last-minute cancellation, so the final threesome of Montgomery, Nichols and Darius Rucker played four songs each.
Each group took on its own character. The first of reigning “American Idol” champion (a title I guess he will hold for life, or until the show is revived) Trent Harmon, Adam Craig, Ben Rue and Walker Montgomery was a mutual admiration society of young artists — Harmon clearly showing that he’d picked up some extra moves on “Idol.” Montgomery is John Michael’s son and a vocal dead ringer for his dad.
The second group of Jana Kramer, Chris Lane, Colt Ford and Eric Paslay was something of a romp, with Paslay playing the straight man and delivering a trio of show-stopping performances of “Friday Night” and other hits. Lane and Ford seemed to be competing to fawn over Kramer the most, to the point that it seem they’d never seen a woman before.
The show was topped with the veteran trio, Montgomery delivering some of his classics, including “Be My Baby Tonight,” and the poignant military ballad “Letters From Home.” Rucker played the headliner role well with selections including his current hit, “If I Told You.”
The proceedings were all to raise money for Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and before the final group, a check for $124,784 was presented to the hospital.