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Hats off to Terri Clark

Posted: February 19th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Features, Music, Top Stories | No Comments

By J.S. Anderson

Canadian country star to perform at Sycuan Casino

Eight-time Canadian Country Music Association winner Terri Clark is coming to Sycuan Casino on March 3 at 8 p.m.

Country fans will recognize her hits “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me,” “Girls Lie, Too,” “Better Things to Do,” “You’re Easy on the Eyes” and “I Just Wanna Be Made” as well as the 2013 and 2014 Canadian Country Top 40 hits “I’m Movin’ On” and “Some Songs.” According to Clark’s website, her favorite song to perform is the U.S. Country Top 40 hit “No Fear.”

Clark stands out on stage, wearing her signature cowboy hat while belting out traditional country music with a distinctive honky tonk quality to it. Her iconic cowboy hat even lends its name to her fan club — the Hat Brats. When asked how many hats she has owned over the years, Clark could not begin to guess, finally offering it is in the thousands. She gives many away, she said, “because sometimes you just have to purge things,” adding that she signs and donates some for silent auctions to benefit various charities.

Country singer Terri Clark in one of her iconic cowboy hats (Courtesy of Sycuan Casino)

Country singer Terri Clark in one of her iconic cowboy hats (Courtesy of Sycuan Casino)

Clark was raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She got the love for country music from her grandparents, Ray and Betty Gauthier, who had their own music careers and had even appeared on bills with the likes of George Jones and Johnny Cash.

The Sycuan show will be Clark’s first performance in the San Diego region in almost four years, although she really likes performing here.

“What’s not to love, especially this time of year,” Clark said, adding that she has taken up golf since her last visit, and looks forward to playing some of the area’s courses.

As Clark described it, she is “a little off the cuff with the audience” during her performances. She likes to walk around the cities and towns where she performs and eat at local restaurants. This enables her to talk to the audience about where they live.

Clark described her music as coming “from a place of empowerment, rather than being a victim.” She observed that people, particularly women, seem to gravitate to this theme. Being “somewhat a voice for them,” her songs tell them “it’s OK to dream to dream big and go after what you want in life,” she said.

“[I’m a] big believer of pulling yourself up and going for it … whether it is in the fields or as a nurse in an emergency room. Country music depicts that lifestyle,” she said.

To Clark, great country songs are authentic, real, and honest and “tell a story that weaves into your psyche.”

She said songs like “Good Ole Boys Like Me” by Don Williams, “Everything that Glitters Is Not Gold” by Dan Seals, and “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss are examples of the kind of story songs that represent the best of good country music. This type of song is coming back because country is a wide format.

“You can have the Judds in one corner, Dwight Yoakam in another, and Mary Chapin Carpenter in another,” she said.

Late last year, Clark performed at the bedsides of 35 veterans in the Nashville VA Hospital as part of the Musicians on Call initiative.

“I got more out of it than they did,” she said.

Some of the vets could not talk and were confined to their beds. As she performed, Clark said she saw one vet slowly smile and break out into a big grin, then open his eyes.

“Music is a universal language that speaks to the heart,” she said.

Clark recalled a performance some months prior, in a pouring rain that left an audience dwindled to about 50 people. When she later performed at the Nashville VA hospital, she encountered a veteran who was one of those who remained in the rain to hear her perform.

In addition to Musicians On Call, Clark has also supported the Lisa Ross Parker Foundation, a charity located in Nashville dedicated to assisting and caring for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related cancers, and their families. Clark, along with her fans, also helped establish a well in Uganda as part of The Water Project.

Terri Clark plays the Sycuan Casino March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49 and $59 and can be purchased at Sycuan.com/entertainment/.

—J.S. Anderson is a freelance writer, a former Marine and a retired college administrator. Reach him at o6rider@gmail.com.

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