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Gatlin Brothers bring hits to Packard hall

WARREN — The Gatlin Brothers have performed for presidents, singing at both the White House and Camp David. They’ve played the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall, not to mention the Houston Astrodome.

After the last year-and-a-half, Rudy Gatlin said he and his brothers Larry and Steve are just happy to sing for a live audience.

“It was a little strange at the first Opry to an empty house,” Gatlin said during a telephone interview from Brentwood, Tenn., where he was getting ready to play in a charity golf tournament for the Gospel Music Association.

The Grand Ole Opry continued to do concerts during the pandemic; the difference was the only people there were operating the cameras and producing the livestream. Gatlin said they’ve learned to put on the best show possible, whether they’re singing for a full house or a handful of camera operators.

“Everybody responds in their own way,” he said. “You can’t help but notice when they’re singing along and bouncing in their seats. You notice, but you don’t get too distracted by it … We’re gonna do what we do no matter the response.”

Still, he admitted it’s a special thrill every time they go back to “the mother church” — the Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium.

The Gatlin Brothers originally were scheduled to perform in 2020 at Packard Music Hall for the Warren Civic Music Association. That would have been their 65th year in the music industry as the brothers started singing gospel when Larry was 7, Steve was 4 and Rudy was 2. That show now will happen Tuesday.

In those 65 (now 66) years, the brothers had more than 20 Top 40 country hits, including the No. 1 singles “All the Gold in California” and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).” Larry had another 11 Top 40 country hits as a solo artist.

Their trophy shelf includes Grammy, CMA, ACM, American Music and People’s Choice awards.

The trio still averages 30 to 40 concerts per year.

“That sounds like a lot, but we used to do a hundred plus,” Gatlin said. “The only ones our age that still do that are the Oak Ridge Boys and the Bellamy Brothers, and I don’t know how they do it.”

They may have slowed down, but they have no plans to stop.

“We’ve got a new project we’re kind of working on, a new album, a compilation album with some artist friends of ours,” he said. “We’d like to get that done … And it would be cool just to be able to do what we do for a little longer. We’re older, but hopefully wiser and still able to just physically travel. As my buddy Stephen Stills says, ‘They don’t pay me to perform — they pay me to travel.'”

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