Country star Josh Turner receives an idol's welcome at Cancun Cantina

ONE BIG, HAPPY SINGALONG: The sold-out crowd quieted only momentarily at Josh Turner's show at Cancun Cantina in Hanover.
ONE BIG, HAPPY SINGALONG: The sold-out crowd quieted only momentarily at Josh Turner's show at Cancun Cantina in Hanover. (Josh Sisk)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011

The concertgoers who climbed atop the tables at Cancun Cantina on Thursday night weren't being rowdy; just resourceful. With several hundred people jammed in every conceivable crevice of the Hanover nightclub to see country crooner Josh Turner perform, some just had to go to the distance for a decent view.

"I don't know what the record-setting audience is for Cancun Cantina . . . " Turner started to say at one point, but he was quickly drowned out by the sold-out crowd at the acoustic concert hosted by Baltimore radio station WPOC to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Those who made it in - the event hosts let everyone know there was a line of people who never made it past the front door - were treated to a 40-minute showcase from Turner, whose pure joy strumming his guitar made the night feel like one big, happy singalong. A slightly chaotic, deafening, sweaty singalong in a sweltering packed room, but a singalong nonetheless.

The 33-year-old singer, known for an extremely deep, bass-heavy voice that sometimes seems at odds with his cheery demeanor and permanent grin, proved to be a radio mainstay last year with two No. 1 singles on the Billboard country charts. He played both during the show - the uber-catchy "Why Don't We Just Dance" and the upbeat summertime tune "All Over Me" - though the audience volume threatened to overtake him at times.

Turner didn't seem to mind the noise. "Let me hear all the ladies in Baltimore tonight," he urged. The Baltimore ladies complied, as did several men.

When he performed two of his older tunes, the slow jam "Your Man" and bluegrassesque "Would You Go With Me," the crowd respectfully quieted at certain times in the songs - mostly at the moments that required Turner to dip into that low, low glory note, which caused everyone to shriek again.

And in possibly the timeliest song segue ever, Turner quizzed the crowd: "How many of you here in Baltimore watch 'American Idol'?"


"Well, I don't," Turner deadpanned, adding, "There's this guy on 'American Idol' . . . from what I hear, he's been singing a lot of my songs."

Sure enough, about a half hour before Turner took the stage, 17-year-old "Idol" contestant Scotty McCreery had belted out Turner's "Long Black Train" on the Fox reality competition series.

Turner then launched into the tune, with the smile of a singer who knows his song has just been heard by approximately 20 million people on national television.

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