Tennessee Ernie Ford

Come to the Fair

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Come to the Fair captures Tennessee Ernie Ford live at the Indiana State Fair during a 1960 performance that reportedly broke attendance records for that fair or any other. Made several months earlier than Hank Thompson's At the Golden Nugget, which is sometimes said to be the first commercially released live country album, Come to the Fair is musically slight but historically interesting. Singing along with an ensemble of local musicians that sounds like a Salvation Army band, Ford intros with "Back Home Again in Indiana" before touching upon sacred, pop, and country favorites aimed at the broadest possible demographic. Between songs he tells stories and jokes at a relaxed pace, and fully half of the album's content is spoken word. Ford even reads an inspirational poem after an electric performance of "Sixteen Tons," the only song in the program with which he is strongly identified. Like the whole-hog sandwiches and lemon shake-ups you'd find at the fair, this album is not fit for frequent consumption.

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