LIVE: The Back 40 Band @ Vapor, 1/5/18

Mark Pierre
The Back 40 Band’s Mark Pierre

Review and photographs by Amy Modesti

Although it was a frigid Friday evening, it didn’t stop Greater Nippertown country music fans from driving to Vapor in Saratoga Springs to line dance their way into the start of 2018, celebrating the return of the Back 40 Band. After almost a year’s hiatus, the band – featuring original members Frank Valenti (bass/vocals), Ed Legenbauer (lead guitar/vocals, and Ken Stronach (drums/percussion), with the welcome addition of new members Mark Pierre (lead vocals, originally from MPThree and Big Sky Country) and Doug Doyle (electric/acoustic guitar, mandolin, vocals) – brought their country music to the dance floor in celebration of their 20th anniversary.

Since 1998, the Back 40 Band has been one of the top country acts in the Local 518. Voted as Northeast CMA Entertainers of the Year and Best of the Capital Region by Metroland, the band has shared the stage with more than 60 top country acts including Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Trisha Yearwood. The Back 40 Band has performed at various events including WGNA’s CountryFest and the recent benefit event, “We Band Together a Tribute to Sue Bogucki,” held at Vapor last month in memory of local country music’s No. 1 fan.

Lead vocalist Mark Pierre and company started off the evening with a cover of Toby Keith’s classic hit, “Should a Been a Cowboy,” followed by other hit tunes, “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” “Dirt on My Boots,” “Drink a Beer” (sung in memory of those who had passed away tragically) and “Die a Happy Man,” among others. A fan favorite with the line dancers and the audience alike was their cover of the Old Crow Medicine Show’s tune (and Darius Rucker cover), “Wagon Wheel.” As a tribute to American soldiers, the band concluded their first set with Toby Keith’s hits, “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”

The Back 40 Band continued to bring the heat during the second set of their anniversary concert. Warmed up from the cold (and the music), the audience was singing along to country hit songs “Papa Loves Mama,” fan favorite “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Copperhead Road” (dedicated to the tireless line dancers) and others. A stand-out moment was Merle Haggard’s harmony-filled classic “Silver Wings,” dedicated to their friend and super country music fan, Sue Bogucki, who passed away in November. Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast as You” brought the fans out on the dance floor again, with some great guitar chemistry between Doug Doyle and Ed Legenbauer. With the concert coming to a close, the band launched into some back-to-back Brooks with “The Dance” and “Friends in Low Places,” as Pierre stepped off stage and into the crowd.

Bolstered by great vocal harmonies and chemistry, the return of the revamped Back 40 Band bodes well for Greater Nippertown’s country music scene. Happy 20th anniversary to the band. Cheers to a new beginning and a great way to kick start 2018.

Should a Been a Cowboy (Toby Keith)
Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) (Garth Brooks)
Dirt on My Boots (Jon Pardi)
Chattahoochee (Alan Jackson)
Getting’ You Home (Chris Young)
A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action (Toby Keith)
Buy Me a Boat (Chris Janson)
Something ‘Bout a Truck (Kip Moore)
American Kids (Kenny Chesney)
Drink a Beer (Luke Bryan)
Toes (Zac Brown Band)
Die a Happy Man (Thomas Rhett)
Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Amarillo by Morning (George Strait)
American Soldier (Toby Keith)
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (Toby Keith)
Great Day to Be Alive (Travis Tritt)
Papa Loves Mama (Garth Brooks)
Ain’t Worth the Whiskey (Cole Swindell)
Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off (Joe Nichols)
Good Hearted Woman (Waylon Jennings)
Chicken Fried (Zac Brown Band)
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) (Travis Tritt)
Fireman (George Strait)
Copperhead Road (Steve Earle)
Silver Wings (Merle Haggard)
Fast as You (Dwight Yoakam)
Fix a Drink (Chris Janson)
Family Tradition (Hank Williams Jr.)
The Dance (Garth Brooks)
Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks)

The Back 40 Band
The Back 40 Band
Ed Legenbauer and Ken Stronach
Ed Legenbauer and Ken Stronach
Frank Valenti and Mark Pierre
Frank Valenti and Mark Pierre
Doug Doyle and Ed Legenbauer
Doug Doyle and Ed Legenbauer
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