There was a distinct energy in the Ryman Auditorium on Monday night (Jan. 13), created from a mix of excitement, anticipation and positivity. It was all part of Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots Million Dollar Show, an annual benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, hosted by the popular radio host and featuring many of his country music friends. Bones remarked how most shows often clock in at two and half hours with intermission, but they strive each year to go above and beyond, a goal he exceeded by giving ticket holders three hours of nonstop music and a running tab of surprise guests including Sam Hunt, Old Dominion and rock band Foreigner.
Bobby Bones and The Raging Idiots served as the house band for the night, keeping the music and laughter flowing with such comedic originals as “Namaste,” “Hobby Lobby Bobby,” “Chick Fil A (…But It’s Sunday),” “The Emoji Love Song” and many more. But Brett Young used his two-song set to remind the audience of the night’s true meaning. In between “Catch” and the couples who were “junior high slow dancing” to his romantic hit “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Young remarked in regards to support for St. Jude, “we’re here to kind of get over ourselves. God bless you for being a part of something so much bigger than us.”
He was soon followed by the first surprise act of the night, country band Sawyer Brown, who received a particularly warm reception, along with their hit “Some Girls Do.” The evening was filled with many heartwarming moments, including a loving proposal by Raging Idiots background singer Ahmad, who got down on one knee to ask his now-fiancee to marry him in front of family and friends, “all our friends,” he said gesturing to the audience, while performing a cover of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Brooks & Dunn truly kicked the show into high gear with a trio of hits, “Boot, Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria” and “Neon Moon,” all of which kept the elated crowd on its feet for the duration of their set. And even with “pneumonia,” “a headache” and after having a “couple drinks,” Dunn still managed to give fans an impromptu singing lesson on how to hold the final “beam” in “Neon Moon.” But he still blew the crowd away when he stunningly held those final notes himself, proving why he’s long been regarded as one of the best vocalists in country music.
Bones delivered with back-to-back crowd pleasers, as Old Dominion were met with an enthusiastic greeting having to follow the iconic duo, treating the crowd to “One Man Band” and “Make it Sweet.” Lindsay Ell followed, admitting that she’d never performed a breakup song with her ex on stage before as she proceeded to sing her current single “I Don’t Love You” with Bones on guitar (the two broke up in 2017 after dating for a year). Ell remained on stage to play bass for fellow surprise act Foreigner, and if lighters were allowed inside, fans likely would have held them in the air as they swayed and sang along to the band’s timeless hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
Kane Brown helped bring the night to a close by dedicating “Homesick” to the troops and those who have loved ones overseas, along with delivering one of his self-professed favorites to sing live, “Good as You,” before Sam Hunt brought the house down as the grand finale, his presence eliciting deafening cheers from the pews. The superstar admitted that he almost purchased tickets to the show when he found out his brother and sister-in-law were traveling to Nashville for it. Instead, Hunt got a personal invite from Bones to perform, an offer he accepted by bringing the audience to its feet for his new song “Kinfolks” and record-breaking smash, “Body Like a Back Road,” ending the night with a sea of voices filling the Ryman – a worthy parting gift for all those who gave to such a meaningful cause.