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Clay Walker headlines concert which features entire band

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Clay Walker was the billed act for the July 6 concert at Pala Casino's Palomar Starlight Theater. Functionally he was the lead singer for a concert that featured all eight members of his band.

The 2023 concert was a return to Pala for Walker, who performed at the Palomar Starlight Theater in July 2022. "That was one of the funnest shows we had all year long," Walker said.

The use of "we" rather than "I" foreshadowed Walker's involvement in this year's concert. The 79-minute concert included 20 songs, beginning with "Rumor Has It" and "If I Could Make a Living" and concluding with "This Woman and This Man" and "What's It To You." Walker was involved in 18 of them with the other two being instrumentals to feature some of his other artists.

In addition to Walker, the band consisted of guitarists James Da Silva and Philip Valdez, bassist Curt Walsh, drummer Ken Smith, fiddle and mandolin player Downs Thompson, steel guitar player Vic Lawson and keyboardist Vic Rentz. Valdez and Da Silva each performed one instrumental so that Walker could showcase the talents of the band members who have aided him.

"There are some fine fellows in this band," Walker said.

Prior to singing "Don't Close Your Eyes," which was originally recorded by Keith Whitley, Walker noted his preference for traditional country music. "Keith Whitley's always one of my favorites," he said.

Walker followed "Don't Close Your Eyes" with "Amarillo By Morning," which was a hit for George Strait when Walker was 13. Walker told the story about wanting to become a country music singer when he was riding with his father and heard "Amarillo By Morning."

"In America dreams do come true," Walker said.

With the help of his band members, the artists who originally recorded the songs he played, and the writers and co-writers of the songs he originally recorded, Walker's dream of performing on stage as a country music singer has come true.

"It just feels perfect tonight," Walker said.

The concert wasn't necessarily perfect. A delay in arrival forced the band to forego a sound check. "We're here in time for the show, and that's all that matters," Walker said.

"The band just loves playing music," Walker said. "We might be here all night."

The show had to end sometime, but not before Walker and his band were able to perform the 20 songs, including all six of Walker's #1 hits. (His two opening songs and his two closing songs both reached #1 as did "Live Until I Die" and "Dreaming With My Eyes Open.")

"It was our pleasure," Walker said.

He used "our," not "my." Clay Walker headlined the concert, but he made sure that the other seven band members were also recognized.


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