I first heard Chris LeDoux at a fairground in West Jordan and lamented the tiny audience and the fact that he was underappreciated. I marveled at the silk-and-smoke voice and groused because no big record company would give the guy a break.
I loved the intimacy of the tiny venue.I next saw him at the Golden Spike Arena: He was still struggling, still delivering and still deserving more.
LeDoux has arrived, moving from opening act for country stars like George Strait to headlining his own show.
His performance Thursday night at the Dee Events Center in Ogden showed just how far he has come on the glitz-and-gold-lined road to success.
He's still unassuming. (He laughed as he knelt at the front of the stage to touch the scores of fans who lined up to give him roses or get a handshake.) And his voice is still one of the world's wonders. His songs are still a mix of cowboy tunes and harder-rockin' country.
But he's added a full light show, complete with clouds of smoke, fireworks and confetti. And he's paid a price. Packing the audience in - which he does - has cost the intimate feel that used to define a LeDoux concert.
That said, he's still one of the hottest tickets in town.
LeDoux emerged out of a puff of smoke with the energetic "Hooked on an 8-Second Ride," harking back to the days when he broke world records busting broncs and sold his family-produced albums from the back of his pickup truck.
Although the rhythms varied from the clap-along "Cadillac Ranch" to the wistful, lovely "Look at You Girl," the pace never let up as he delivered more than 20 songs.
Oddly, LeDoux shines at two ends of the musical spectrum. His ballads, like "Just Can't See It From the Road," are moving. And when he's rockin' to the fast songs like "Even Cowboys Love a Little Rock 'n' Roll," it's the audience that can't stop moving.
LeDoux and his Western Underground band owe a debt to Utah: Salt Lake audiences were the first to love him. His band members are all Utah boys. And they pay the debt with a special "Thank You, Utah" song.
In fact, Utah was glowing Thursday night. The opening act, McCoslyn and Paye, are local boys, too. And country music audiences can expect to hear a lot more from them.
Joel McCoslyn and Kevin Paye were destined to find each other. No other voices could have blended so completely, and the result is a happy mix.
Like LeDoux, they do justice to the broad spectrum, moving ably from the bouncy, upbeat "Honeymoon" to the melancholy tribute to an aging "man's best friend" in "In His Dreams."
If you like having a song stick in your mind, I strongly recommend the clever "Could Ya, Would Ya." It's a keeper.
And I have a feeling that McCoslyn and Paye are, too.