The forecast called for rain, and while Jo Dee Messina typically invites it, on Saturday, she wished it away. Performing at an outdoor event in Tampa, Florida, Jo Dee hoped for a clear evening to allow ticket holders to close in on the stage and experience everything she had to offer them that day. That list included strong vocals, dynamic presentation, comedic interlude, and unadulterated, raw emotion.
Despite a flight delay for the multi-platinum selling artist and a bus mishap for the band, the team arrived ready to play. Taking the stage at the end of the day, Jo Dee, off the bat, made a bold statement to show-goers that she has newer music out, and it’s a collection of songs you should know. Tearing on to the stage with the upbeat and powerful “Take It” off her 2014 Me album (penned by renowned writers Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, and Angelo Petraglia), the always-ready-to-get-the-musical-party-started artist caused event dwellers to migrate toward the scene.
Leading into her 1996 debut single, “Heads Carolina, Tails California“, Jo Dee promised she would now play some songs everybody knows. Turning the wet grass into a dance floor where people could move to the music and sing along, Jo Dee ripped the chords on her guitar and sang the twenty-year-old song as brilliantly as on the day she recorded it. Before putting her signature purple guitar down, she segued into “My Give a Damn’s Busted” — a song that made saying “I’m over you” to someone a lot more enjoyable. As is par for the course for Jo Dee, she didn’t just sing the lyrics and strum the instrument; she truly performed the song. Complete with flippant faces and lost-in-the-moment jam sessions, the legendary artist made sure the eyes in the crowd were drawn to her and would not look away.
Mixed into the set list were also classic songs “I’m Alright“, “Bring On the Rain“, and show closer “Bye Bye“. However, it was the lesser known pieces that many can say were the absolute showstoppers. Jo Dee rocked out to her new song, which is the title track off her forthcoming EP, Masquerade, before jokingly calling it “a little country western ditty for ya” (video of which can be seen below). She also performed radio single “A Woman’s Rant” off Me, which included a story about her husband and his inability to wake up for their crying baby. The song that always leaves first-time listeners in giggles brought the Tampa crowd to hysterics as Jo Dee worked through the fast-paced, snarky lyrics.
The portion of the show that was, in my humble opinion, the highlight was a trifecta of powerful songs: Jo Dee’s original “Will You Love Me“; Plumb’s “Need You Now“; and Lauren Daigle’s “How Can It Be“. Pouring herself into each of these three performances, Jo Dee shared emotions of anger, sadness, and helplessness, while displaying undeniable strength, courage, and hope. Glancing around at those peeking into Jo Dee’s heart in those moments, there was a sea of sympathetic eyes fixated on the stage as the Number 1 artist exposed personal pieces of herself to onlookers.
Though the trio of songs showed some deep emotion from the superstar, the show was not void of laughter. As usual, Jo Dee brought her quick-witted, unabashed sense of humor to the stage as she told stories and made spontaneous and sarcastic comments. In fact, at one point, Jo Dee had herself laughing so hard that she couldn’t get the opening words of “Bring On the Rain” out and had to fight to keep water from shooting out of her nose. I call that “karma” and I will explain more about this in a separate article later this week.
As always, Jo Dee unmasked herself and gave every ounce of her being to the Florida crowd. Whether it was to share some of our day’s travel adventures (coming soon, as mentioned above!), a quip about a tune, or deep-rooted pain escaping through song, the award-winning artist whose talent is every bit as phenomenal as it has always been left no stone unturned. It is safe to say that each person who stood in that audience came in a fan and left feeling like they took a little piece of Jo Dee’s heart with them, as the performance was as honest and revealing as they come.
Watch the video for “Masquerade” below and follow Jo Dee Messina on Twitter, Facebook, and her website for all upcoming show announcements. I have been saying it for years and I’ll be saying it for many more to come – this is certainly one artist you don’t want to miss in a live setting.
Photo credit: Sandel’ Cash