WARREN - No one made out better at Kenny Rogers' sold-out concert Tuesday at Packard Music Hall than Bruce DeJean of Fowler.
Early in the show, Rogers said he always can pick out the husbands that have been dragged to the show by their wives, and he singled out DeJean, sitting in the front row.
He said he'd give him $10 for every one of his hit songs he could name.
"I wanted to die," DeJean said at intermission. "I was embarrassed."
But DeJean also is a big fan, thanks to growing up hearing his mother play Rogers' records. So he was able to rattle off several songs.
During the first half of the show, Rogers tossed DeJean $150 and gave him a concert T-shirt that Rogers said he had to wear until he got to his car.
Tribune Chronicle photos / R. Michael Semple
Country recording artist Kenny Rogers tosses a $10 bill to Bruce DeJean of Fowler seated in the front row during Rogers’ concert Tuesday evening at Packard Music Hall in Warren. Rogers promised to pay the unsuspecting DeJean $10 for each of his hits he could name.
DeJean gladly wore the T-shirt, got to hear his favorite song ("Lucille") and left with more than enough cash to pay for that front row seat his wife, Pam, bought.
"I did pretty good," he said.
Several other fans ended up with autographed tambourines that were tossed out to the crowd before Rogers closed the first half of the show with "Islands in the Stream."
As she gripped her tambourine, Linda Fittipaldo of Howland said it was her mother, Elaine Hileman of Warren, who made her a Rogers fan. Mom and her sister, Lorri Palac, of Warren were sitting with her in the front row.
"I put on a disc of his, and when everybody's gone, I just dance up a storm," Hileman said.
Hudson native Janice Tavalero, who also caught a tambourine, drove up from Dayton for the concert, and she played along during "Islands in the Stream."
"He didn't jump off the stage and take it away from me, so I must have done OK," Tavalero said.
Tavalero went to school with Mike Zimmerman, who played drums in Rogers' seven-piece backing band, and said it was her first time seeing Rogers live.
"I was surprised how funny he was," she said.
And Rogers spent much of the first half chatting with the crowd in between singing such hits as "Through the Years," "You Decorated My Life," "She Believes in Me," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Coward of the County," "The Gambler," "Lady" and "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)," one of his early hits fronting the First Edition.
He said his audience can be divided into two groups "Kids born sometime in the '80s whose parents forced them to listen to my music as child abuse, and those born before the '60s that can no longer remember the '60s."
He dissected the psychedelic lyrics of "Just Dropped In," chided the audience on its sing-along abilities and told everyone to stop swaying on "Lucille."
"You look like a room full of Ray Charles," he said.
While the first half of the night was dedicated to the hits, the second half was devoted to Christmas music. Rogers was joined for that portion by country singer Linda Davis, a Grammy Award winner and the mother of Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott; five students from James Dance & Performing Arts Center in Niles; and 32 members of the Voices of Ohio choir, which has performed with Rogers seven times throughout the state in the last five years.
The choir is directed by Girrard Stewart, who taught at James Dance & Performing Arts Center.
"Everyone likes to get a chance to work with an icon," Stewart said. "And Kenny has won so many awards."