The Carnegie Hall Concert


In March 1966, Owens and his band became the second country act to ever perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and they came in red-hot. The performances of hits like “Act Naturally,” “Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line,” “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail,” “The Streets Of Laredo,” and “Love’s Gonna Live Here” are thrilling — the rhythm section of bassist Doyle Holly and drummer Willie Cantu give every song a twitching, bouncing energy — and the medleys of close to a dozen other songs give a good overview of Owens’ astonishing catalog. There’s a lot of country showbiz hokum here, too, of course. Owens would start hosting the TV show Hee Haw just three years later, so there’s goofy banter between bandmembers and with the audience, and they blast through a 90-second cover of “Twist and Shout” in the style of the Beatles (who’d covered Owens’ “Act Naturally” the year before).

Phil Freeman

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