Soon after a splendid sunset on Friday, Aug. 8 at Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y., country music star Kellie Pickler and her band took the outdoor summer concert stage to perform to a nearly sold-out crowd.

"What a beautiful evening," Pickler announced as she opened the show with a song she wrote from her current album, "The Woman I Am." It didn't take long for Pickler to engage the audience with the tune, "Bonnie and Clyde."

Pickler's strong vocals included songs focused on relationships, including the sassy "Ring for Sale." The number, "Stop Cheatin' on Me," showcased more of Pickler's pure country sound. Fan favorites, "Best Days of Your Life," "Don't You Know You're Beautiful," and "Red High Heels," were highlights of Pickler's 90-minute concert.

Pickler shared several personal stories with the Tioga Downs crowd. She told of a time her husband, songwriter Kyle Jacobs, was away on a songwriter's retreat and she requested via phone, "Write me a song." What he came up with is a song describing his wife, "No Cure for Crazy." Jacobs also penned the single, "Little Bit Gypsy" about Pickler, which hit the country charts, and both songs had the Tioga Downs crowd foot tapping in their seats.

Pickler admitted that she most likely inherited her crazy attributes from her great-grandmother and described her by saying, "She was a pistol."

The audience chuckled when Pickler went on to say that she was more than what you see in the character Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies television show. Pickler then sang, "Selma Drye" which honors the memory of her great-grandmother, a snuff-chewing woman who sported a .38 special. Pickler joked that she didn't get Selma's .38 when she passed away, but instead her white Bible.

Kellie Pickler also took time to introduce her talented band, and show-goers were treated to each band member playing a few minutes on their guitars, drums and keyboards, including a little ZZ Top and other rock greats.

Pickler remarked that she still gets approached by fans about "American Idol." A season five contestant on the popular show, Pickler finished in sixth place. Now eight years later, Pickler seems pleased to still be recognized as an Idol alum, yet quipped, "I'm an antique Idol. I'm a little dusty."

"It's so neat to be able to write about life in the form of a song," Pickler shared as she mentioned the likes of Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton as her inspiration.

Following her "American Idol" tour, Pickler said she wrote the song, "I Wonder" on the bus ride home to Tennessee. Pickler performed the poignant tune to the Tioga Downs crowd.

About half-way through the concert, Pickler got cozy with the audience, pulling up a chair and taking the time to thank all the veterans attending the show as well as all veterans and troops everywhere. An avid supporter of U.S. troops, Pickler has participated in seven USO tours.

Tioga Downs Marketing Director, Linn Redder, Southern Tier Veterans Support Group (STVSG) President Al Eaton and Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, Jeff Gural, all spoke prior to the concert. Proceeds from the Kellie Pickler concert benefited STVSG, and Gural personally matched every ticket sold. Tioga Downs had a goal of exceeding $100,000, hoping to top last year's benefit show, and that goal was achieved.

Just before 9:30 p.m., Kellie Pickler thanked the Tioga Downs audience and exited the stage to a roar of applause. However, it wasn't long before she returned singing her signature song, "Red High Heels."

As she previously stated during a June phone interview, "Red High Heels is my first country song that most fans identify me with." The catchy lyrics and familiar beat brought concert goers to their feet as they surrounded the stage while Pickler posed for photos and shook hands.

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