George Strait Makes Monumental Return to Gruene Hall After 34 Years
It’s been 34 years since he last played the stage inside New Braunfels, Texas’ Gruene Hall, but last night, George Strait returned for a once-in-a-lifetime concert within the hallowed walls. Built in 1878, Texas’ oldest dance hall was the place that Strait first began playing shows as he began his career in music. The private event, which streamed for fans at no cost online, was filled with guests invited by the Straits, as well as members of the media and his record label, MCA Nashville.
The legendary performer kicked off his nearly two-hour set with “Here For A Good Time.” While it’s nearly impossible to cover all of his biggest hits, Strait performed a great number of them, ranging from “Ocean Front Property,” “Amarillo By Morning,” “Give It Away,” “Check Yes Or No,” and his latest “Goin’ Goin’ Gone.”
Strait also made sure to introduce the crowd to two new songs appearing on his upcoming box set, Strait Out of the Box: Part 2, entitled “You Gotta Go Through Hell” and “Kicked Outta Country.” The latter came after a conversation with singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson after Johnson asked when Strait would be returning to the studio because he had a few songs he wanted to pitch. After saying he’d like to hear what Johnson had for him but that it likely wouldn’t get played on radio, Johnson replied ‘Yeah, you know they kicked me out of country too.’ The comment struck a chord with Strait immediately and he asked to write a song based on that concept with Johnson. With lyrics like “I just got the news today, the record I sent them they threw it away / It don’t fit the format, don’t make the list / They said I’m too old, won’t even be missed,” the song addresses the current country radio format while also acknowledging that the classics aren’t going anywhere.
While most of the other songs from his pop-up show were ones he made famous all his own, Strait did take a moment to pay homage to one of his heroes, the late Merle Haggard, with covers of “Mama Tried” and “Working Man Blues.” Strait wanted to honor “the great artist that he was,” and that he and his Ace in the Hole Band “always try to do a couple Merle songs.”
The 2014 Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year was clearly energized to be back on stage at his old stomping grounds as a big smile rarely left the face of the iconic superstar. He soaked in each moment as the crowd cheered relentlessly throughout the night.
After walking offstage for a moment, Strait reemerged for an encore which included some more honky-tonk two-step songs, like “Unwound,” “Take Me Back to Tulsa” and “All My Exes.” He concluded with the nostalgic “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
Fans can get their fix of George Strait on his new 3-disc box set, Strait Out of the Box: Part 2, set for release Friday, Nov. 18, exclusively through Walmart. Strait will also continue his Las Vegas show, Strait to Vegas, in 2017 with dates including April 7-8, July 28-29, Sept. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9, 2017. For the first time ever, Strait will perform all 60 of his No.1 songs over each weekend of shows. To learn more about Strait to Vegas or to purchase tickets, visit StraitToVegas.com or T-MobileArena.com.