Sheryl Crow/ Associated Press photo by Dan Hallman

A few thoughts on BUZ’N 102.9 FM’s Girls with Guitars gig Tuesday at Mill City Nights featuring Sheryl Crow, Kellie Pickler, Gloriana, Maggie Rose and Ashley Monroe. It was a benefit for Park Nicollet’s Jane Brattain Breast Center.

  • What a fun evening – lots of personality, spontaneous chatter, free-wheeling humor,some pretty good music and a good cause.
  • Girls with Guitars for breast cancer is a terrific concept but a bit of a misnomer at this inaugural event. Only two of the five female singers played much guitar. It wasn’t a true guitar pull, as they call them in Nashville, because each artist had her own accompanists. And Gloriana is a male-fronted trio with a female secondary singer. The more accurate moniker would have been 4 Blondes and 1 Non-Blonde.  
  • Kellie Pickler is a hoot. And she’s twice as funny when she’s drinking, which she was. She made fun of her Minnesota in-laws (it was her father-in-law’s birthday) and their accents, her own North Carolina accent and people from Texas in the crowd. You can see why she is one of Ellen DeGeneres’ favorite guests.
  • The conversational highlight was the story about when Pickler and Gloriana, who toured together for two years, went out to celebrate a birthday in Austin, Texas, and Pickler and Gloriana’s Rachel Reinert got matching tattoos on their feet, and Pickler got a nose-ring. "My husband had to get a diamond [stud] out of my nose with a pair of pliers," she said.
  • On a serious note, Sheryl Crow, a breast cancer survivor, talked about the importance of mammograms, self-checking and knowing your family history. She was informative but not heavy-handed. Nicely done.
  • Gloriana – sort of the odd act out – let frontman Tom Gossin talk too much. Dude, this was Girls with Guitars. Not guys. At least, Crow fittingly dealt with her two male accompanists (one on guitar, the other on acoustic bass) by calling them her “chick magnets.”
  •  Gloriana impressed with their three-part harmonies and their sing-along of the Lumineers pop hit, “Ho Hey.” Reinert gets credit for introducing the night’s favorite phrase: “douche-y ex’s.” Best number: “Carolina Rose.”
  • Wearing a striking black-and-white-striped long skirt, newcomer Maggie Rose was an appealing combination of sass and smarts. The Maryland-reared Rose scored extra points for bringing a fiddler, Natalie Murphy, from Minneapolis. Best number: “Ain’t Your Mama.”
  • Pickler’s mouth was more memorable than her music. She always seemed to have a drink in her hand – or sometimes two when she held Ashley Monroe’s while the latter performed. Best number: “Red High Heels.”
  • Ashley Monroe won over the 900 club-goers with her spunk, spirit and humor – as well as her ace accompanist, Sarah Zimmerman on mandolin and acoustic slide guitar. Best number: “Heart Like Mine.”
  • Sheryl Crow triumphed with her humbleness (“I’m the new kid on the block”), class and credible country tunes. She also did a couple of her pop favorites. Best number: “Strong Enough” (pop) and “Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely” (country).
  • Unlike true guitar pull tradition, there was little helping out and harmonizing on each other’s songs (only happened twice), and there was no big hootenanny at the end of the 2 ½-hour program. Put those ideas on next year’s list.

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