His actual birthday may not have been until April 2, but that didn’t keep Billy Dean from inviting a few hundred friends and fans—along with musician buddies Jamie O’Neal, Ty Herndon and Rhonda Vincent & The Rage—to have three days of fun at his Dean Acres Farm about an hour from Nashville this past weekend celebrating Billy’s reaching the big 5-0 milestone. Looking better than any 50-year-old has a right to, Billy was the focal point of activity as the weekend began with a Friday night “Live From Our Living Room” dinner and intimate performance by Billy and his buddies (there will be more of these later; check billydean.com for a schedule) and included a Saturday Birthday Bash barbecue and concert under a huge tent on Billy’s gorgeous mountaintop property before concluding with a Sunday brunch.
The Saturday event was full of special moments and nice touches, beginning with a mule-drawn “taxi” that ferried guests from the grass parking area to the tent, and included truly outstanding performances by Jamie, Ty and Rhonda. And, of course, Billy sounded great throughout the evening as he played a string of his ‘90s hits, including “Billy the Kid,” “Only the Wind,” “We Just Disagree,” “Somewhere in My Broken Heart,” “Tryin’ to Hide a Fire in the Dark” and others; unveiled a gorgeous new single, “Laura Nadine;” and added a bluegrass feel to some of his classic tunes, with the assistance of Rhonda’s incredible band. FYI, Billy recorded the show with plans for a live album, which should be outstanding.
But few moments were more poignant than when Billy’s daughter Hannah brought out a gift book signed by Billy’s friends and family and presented it onstage as a birthday present for her dad near the end of the concert. That would’ve been touching enough, but then Hannah decided to read the message she’d written to Billy, concluding with “I hope to be half the person you are.” Needless to say, the tears began to flow from Billy—and anyone else who had a heart—as he gave Hannah a long embrace (left). Not surprisingly, it took Billy several minutes to compose himself before he and Hannah sang a beautiful duet on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Billy eventually ended the show with a solo performance of his hit “Let Them Be Little,” flanked by his kids Hannah and Eli and wife, Stephanie (see top photo). All in all, a great way to end a wonderful day hosted by one of Nashville’s most beloved stars. If you’re able to make it to one of Billy’s upcoming living room dinner shows, do it. You’ll be glad you did. —David Scarlett
Photos: David Scarlett