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Gatlin draws busloads of fans

December 02, 2000

Gatlin draws busloads of fans



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


Larry Gatlin teased and entertained more than 400 concertgoers Saturday afternoon at the first of two concerts at the Maryland Theatre.

Gatlin stopped singing his fourth song into the show, "I Don't Wanna Cry," to encourage audience members to applaud the beginning of the tune because it was once a No. 1 hit.

The audience's enthusiasm picked up, but then Gatlin halted the band again when two women from Virginia entered the show late to take their seats up front.

"Let's tell these nice people what time the show started," Gatlin told the crowd.

"Two o'clock," the audience responded.

Gatlin gave the women a recap of what they missed, singing lines from the first three songs and hitting the highlights of a few of his jokes.

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"And now you're caught up. Let's do it again," Gatlin said.

He started the song, generating even more applause, and this time finished it.

Fran Rudock, 49, of Richmond, Va., said she appreciated the recap.

She and friend Alice Stevens, 40, of Chesapeake, Va., had gotten up early Saturday morning to drive to the show but arrived late after getting turned around on the one-way streets in downtown Hagerstown.

Rudock was glad she didn't miss "I Don't Wanna Cry."

"It's a good song," she said.

"I've been a fan of his for a long time, about 20 years," Rudock said.

The last time she saw Gatlin in concert was about five years ago when she was in Florida and drove to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to hear him sing.

Rudock wasn't the only one to drive a long way to see Gatlin.

Between the two shows, theater Executive Director Pat Wolford said she was expecting busloads of concertgoers from Manassas, Va.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Woodbine, Md.; and Silver Spring, Md.

William and Joyce Ovies were among a group of 36 people with Fredericksburg Seniors who took a bus to see Gatlin sing some country and Christmas favorites.

William Ovies, 76, said they returned to the theater for more country music after seeing the Oak Ridge Boys perform there in May.

Judy Stanfield, 58, of King George, Va., also came with Fredericksburg Seniors.

"We're fans of his style," said Stanfield, who described Gatlin as laid back.

Barbara Kunze, of Williamsport, also likes Gatlin's style.

"It's a good, clean program. It's not going to have any smut or anything like that," Kunze said.

Kunze was taking advantage of a rare weekend off from working at JCPenney to celebrate her 51st wedding anniversary with her husband, Eugene.

The Kunzes were fans of the Gatlin Brothers, of which Larry Gatlin was a member, but hadn't seen him perform solo.

Dan and Doris Newbraugh of Martinsburg, W.Va., and their son, Bill Price, 35, had seen Gatlin perform before at Merriweather Post Pavilion and at the Maryland Theatre.

"We've loved Larry Gatlin for years," said Doris Newbraugh, 56.

Vonnie Rozell, 63, of Greencastle, Pa., and her mother, Martha Pittman, 87, of Mercersburg, Pa., came to see Gatlin after watching him on television with Bill Gaither's band.

"Just love him," Pittman said.

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