BANGOR, Maine — Brad Paisley was about halfway through “I’m Still a Guy,” the song he had dedicated to “real men” on Father’s Day, when he was distracted by something at the edge of the stage at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
“Well, love makes a man do some things he ain’t proud of,” the country star sang Sunday night to a nearly sold-out crowd. “And in a weak moment, I might walk your sissy dog, hold your purse at the mall, but remember, I’m still a guy.”
Paisley let go of his guitar and took hold of two “Flat Daddies” held up for him to autograph. The singer looked like he was posing with old buddies as he put one arm around each life-size, foam board likeness of a soldier.
The audience cheered as Paisley, who gave free tickets to the show to members of the military, first responders and their families, handed them back to their owners.
“They just got back from a year overseas. These guys are my heroes,” Paisley, who made a surprise appearance May 25 with President Barack Obama at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, Afghanistan, said Sunday before finishing the song.
The “Flat Daddy” and “Flat Mommy” program was created nearly a decade ago through a National Guard effort designed to ease the pain of separation for families, especially the children, of deployed troops.
The Father’s Day concert was Paisley’s first show in Bangor but the fans knew the words to most of his songs. When he sang out, “Turn it on, turn it up and sing along,” concert-goers did just. The weather, cloudy with winds gusting at more than 10 mph for most of the day, cleared as he took the stage.
Paisley’s summer tour began in mid-May in Camden, New Jersey, and will wind up Sept. 20 in Bristow, Virginia. In October, he’ll perform in 14 cities in Canada.
His Bangor show included performances by Charlie Worsham, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter; Leah Turner, a California native considered to be a rising star in Nashville; and veteran performer Randy Houser, who took the stage before Paisley and his band did. Houser had the crowd on its feet singing “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.”
The Waterfront Concert series has proved again and again over the past three years that if it’s country, they will come.