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Story and photos By Andy ArgyrakisBetween her firecracker personality, fierce vocal abilities and flowing red locks, Jo Dee Messina is one of the most familiar faces in modern country. But unlike most Nashville-manufactured divas of the day, the singer/songwriter packs plenty of rugged punch into her platform, singing about subjects that are far from the genre's predictable commonplace and spicing up each sultry note with sass (as amplified by The Venue at Horseshoe Casino's superb sound system).
On a recent tour introducing a few tracks from the forthcoming Unmistakable (her first studio project in four years delayed several times due to record label red tape) the double platinum powerhouse showed she doesn't just sing undeniably catchy songs, but lives those expositions of overcoming obstacles and rising above her circumstances in real life. Faithful fans are certainly aware of her struggles (including a trip to rehab and some highly publicized break-ups), but these days the now married (and new mother) Messina evokes a greater personal confidence than ever before.
The trip down memory lane was literally set in a living room environment (think Carole King's Living Room tour) and encompassed all her major crests, sending attendees through a roller coaster ride of emotions that mirrored her musical diversity. In upbeat, acoustic rock contexts, there was the starving artists' survival guide "I'm Alright," the ultimate road trip soundtrack "Heads Carolina, Tails California," the relationship rebound anthem "Bye-Bye" and the feisty "My Give a Damn's Busted."
In terms of the ballads, there were plenty on the docket, bringing additional intimacy to The Venue's cabaret seating configuration (as opposed to its standing room only set up when transforming into a rock club). "Stand Beside Me" boldly listed the qualities of what makes a strong man, "Bring On the Rain" encouraged everyone to embrace adversity head on, while "That's the Way" spoke of living every moment to the fullest.
Messina's certainly doing just that a little over a decade into her career, and after empowering her audience at full throttle for over two hours, there's no sign she'll change her tune anytime soon. As for The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, keep checking this very site for details on upcoming events and a chance to win free tickets to several shows!
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