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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Mo Pitney looks out at his audience during the Decatur Barbecue concert on the stage at Veterans Park Aug. 4. Pitney's performance included several of his own songs from his hit album, "Behind the Guitar."

DECATUR -- After a fun-filled day of events, pageants and good food, the 65th Annual Decatur Barbecue wound down with a concert by Nashville artist Mo Pitney, who performed cuts from his hit CD, "Behind the Guitar," and his hit single, "Country."

Pitney took the stage Aug. 4 at Decatur's Veterans Park around 7 p.m. An estimated 500 spectators were on hand to hear Pitney's unique style of traditional country music. Opening for Pitney were local talents K.C. Kaufman and Travis Duncan, the Stratosphere Brothers, whose beautiful combination of instrumental music and song got the crowd warmed up and ready for the main event.

From the moment Pitney's concert began, spectators were drawn into his music. When Pitney performed Roger Miller's hit, "Trailers for Sale or Rent," the crowd joined in and, before long, the entire park was singing and swinging to the Miller classic.

Earlier in the day, just before parade time, Pitney took the opportunity to explore downtown Decatur, making an unannounced stop at a local business before returning to Decatur City Hall for lunch.

"We have been here for a little bit and I decided to walk around. In fact, I just checked out the Farmers Coop, a really nice bunch of people there," said Pitney. "The weather is great and the sun is shining; it's not too hot, and I smelled some barbecue on the walk over here so it feels like a good place to be today."

At one point, Pitney did a tribute song to Keith Whitley, whose record for the largest Decatur Barbecue concert turnout still stands today. Being able to sing on the same venue as Whitley, even though the stage at Old City Park is a mile from Veterans Park, drew extra inspiration for Pitney.

"It was such a memorable night for your town (Decatur) to have Keith here. In fact, my guitar player Lou Toney traveled with Keith for a while. It was one of the first four shows and he performed here with Keith. In a way, recreating that night got my wheels turning on doing a Keith Whitley song tonight in memory of him."

As Pitney performed the Whitley hit, those in the crowd reminisced about the time when a rising star sang in Decatur as one of his songs hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1988 and the tragedy that befell his family a few months after that memorable barbecue night. It was indeed a performance that held to the barbecue theme, "Then (Whitley) and Now (Pitney)."

Pitney was always drawn to country music as a child growing up in a rural part of Illinois.

"My thinking was always country," Pitney said. "I started singing and gravitated to simple country songs. Great country singers are what stuck out the most and Keith was just one among many, many others. I heard that music and I knew in my heart that every time I sang, the music was flowing from my heart."

And from the heart is exactly where Pitney's music came from as he performed country classics by George Jones, Randy Travis, Ray Price and a few others.

General News on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: Pitney wows crowds at Decatur Barbecue

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