Sitting comfortably toward the back of Secrest Auditorium, Beverly Foley eagerly awaited the heartfelt sounds of a legend.
"I look forward to hearing him sing some old songs," the Zanesville woman said. "I like them all."
"I've never heard him before, so this will be a new experience," said Brandon Barker, Foley's grandson.
The pair joined an equally excited large crowd Friday night for the Ronnie Milsap concert at Secrest Auditorium. Although Mother Nature threatened with the possibility of snow, manager Ann Combs was pleased with a turnout that filled about two-thirds of the auditorium.
"The last time we had a sold-out show was probably Neal McCoy about 10 years ago," she said. "This isn't sold out, but it's comparable to the crowd we had in December for Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis. We're in a growing stage right now, and that shows people are turning out for the legends."
About 1,050 people came to the "Grits and Glamour" show featuring Morgan and Tillis, and 1,200 attended the Justin Moore/Thompson Square concert in November. Both of those concerts, like Milsap's concert, were organized through a partnership with the local Ticketcrush.
Along with country tunes to energize the crowd beforehand, welcoming remarks were made to promote the auditorium, its endeavors and upcoming Ticketcrush events.
Before Milsap took the stage, musical comedian and impersonator Kier revved up the crowd as he invited them on a "musical journey" to kick off the evening. Often using audience participation, Kier kept them laughing with plenty of jokes and impressions of vocal legends such as Sting, Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen, Barry White, Marvin Gaye and Willie Nelson.
After a brief intermission, the stage dimmed as Milsap was introduced. Lights rose as the "2001: A Space Odyssey" theme played, then Milsap took his seat at a piano as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
He began with "Daydreams About Night Things" and "What a Difference You Made in My Life." Milsap, who has had 40 No. 1 hits, mixed old classics with new tunes to bring music to the crowd's ears.
Sitting in the front row just feet from the stage was longtime fan Susie Wilson, of Zanesville, who couldn't wait to experience his music live for the first time.
"I've been a fan for more than 30 years," she said. "I like all his songs. He has a variety with country and blues, and he does a great job."
By - Holly Richards