If you’re not excited about Don Williams coming to South Dakota, you should be

I may have been the only South Dakotan younger than 40 who got excited this week upon hearing that Don Williams is coming to the South Dakota State Fair this summer.

I’ve always been a country music fan, and I’ve always loved older country music best. I don’t know when I first became aware of Don Williams, but I guess it must have been during the countless hours I spent in cars listening to the radio when I was a kid.

My dad, a livestock auctioneer, "drove the country" on a regular basis, stopping at farms and ranches to sign up their cattle for sale. Sometimes I rode with him, and the radio was always on.

My dad was a Cadillac and Lincoln man, and he always had an old model — one of those long boats. It was never new. It was always just old enough to be a little outdated, and he still curses the executives at Cadillac and Lincoln for making their newer cars "too small."

My earliest memories include a car that had an 8-track player in the dash. The way I remember it, we only had one 8-track of Moe Bandy songs (and if you know Moe Bandy, you’re an even bigger fan of country music than me). We also had a cassette-tape converter that we stuck into the 8-track player. Half of the converter stayed inside the player, and the other half jutted out. The half that jutted out is the part that played the tapes.

My family also spent a lot of time driving to and from rodeos, because my oldest brother was a saddle bronc rider. During those drives, country music was always on.

So, I was always aware of Don Williams. He has one of the most distinctive voices in country music history, and when you hear one of his songs you know immediately that it’s him. In addition to his great voice, he has some memorable lyrics that range from moving to funny.

One of the funniest is this one:

"And if you see Burt Reynolds, would you shake his hand for me?

"Would you tell old Burt, I’ve seen all his movies?"

I love that lyric, from "If Hollywood Don’t Need You," because it’s so down-home and old-country and cheesy in an enjoyable way. I always sing along with it when I play Don Williams’ greatest hits CD, and my wife always rolls her eyes because she thinks it’s goofy that I get such a kick out of the song.

She tends to like Williams’ ballads, especially "You’re my best friend." Here’s a sampling;

"You’re my bread when I’m hungry,

"You’re my shelter from troubled winds.

"You’re my anchor in life’s ocean,

"But most of all, you’re my best friend."

That’s a great, meaningful ballad. Williams sings it in a way that relaxes listeners and makes them think of the people in their own lives who match the description of the person in the song.

Don Williams is 71 years old now. I have no idea if his voice is as deep and as rich as it was when he recorded all his hits in the 1970s and ’80s, but I’d like to hear it. My wife has already succumbed and said she’ll go to the concert with me.

The concert is Friday, Sept. 2, at the State Fair in Huron. Here’s some info from the Fair:

HURON, SD – 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee singer and songwriter Don Williams – whose hits include Good Ole Boys Like Me, I Believe In You, Love Is On A Roll, Amanda and Tulsa Time – will perform at the SD State Fair on Friday, Sept. 2.
There are few American classics these days, but Don Williams is certainly one of them.  He achieved a string of Top Ten hits between 1974 and 1991, and only four of his 46 singles did not reach the Top 10.
Williams’ smooth, bass-baritone voice, soft tones, and building ballads earned him the nickname of Gentle Giant.
Tickets for Williams’ performance will go on sale in mid-June. Prices have yet to be determined.
Friends of the Fair will have pre-sale access to ticket sales. For more information on becoming a Friend of the Fair, visit www.sdstatefair.com
Williams’ appearance ties into the State Fair’s “Country Pride Statewide” 2011 theme. The theme emphasizes the importance of agriculture and rural South Dakota to the State Fair. Look for events and promotions tied to the theme at this year’s fair.
“Having a classic country artist like Don Williams in the lineup reflects the State Fair’s theme of ‘Country Pride Statewide’. The State Fair not only provides great grandstand entertainment but also showcases the best from across our rural state – including 4-H, FFA, open-class exhibits and other home-grown talent,” said Walt Bones, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture.
The fair will run Sept. 1-5 at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron.  You can find the SD State Fair on Facebook and Twitter.  For more information, log onto www.sdstatefair.com.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.


  1. Seth Tupper
    Seth Tupper Author 4 September, 2011, 22:17

    I went to the concert, and it was phenomenal. Don sounds just as good as he always has. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

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