Tomberlin & Friends entertain sold-out crowd

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

On April 22, the Luverne United Methodist Church Dei Center hosted an unforgettable evening of country music with the Bobby Tomberlin & Friends Show. This one-of-a-kind concert became a sellout weeks before the event with people from all over the country in attendance.

The show began with a welcome and heartfelt tribute from lifetime friend of Bobby Tomberlin and former fellow Luverne FFA String Band member and female vocalist, Lisa Rolling whose company Sessa Productions produced the show.

“If you know Bobby, then you know he’s one of the most humble artists in the business, always promoting others,” Rolling said. “I want everyone to know that it matters not where he’s performing. Bobby never forgets where he comes from and always mentions in his performances that he is from right here in Luverne.”

Tomberlin, a Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music (ACM) award winner and Grammy nominee raised in Luverne, headlined the event beginning with a song he wrote with Mark Narmore entitled “It Only Happens in the Country.”

When Tomberlin performed his opening song, he said his emotions caught him off guard.

“The song is about Luverne, my hometown,” Tomberlin said. “It mentions my Uncle Robert, who taught me my first chords on the guitar, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Harold and it was the first time I had sung it since they all passed away. My emotions caught me off guard and I could barely sing the chorus, but I made it. My Dad being on the front row after just getting out of the hospital that day added to the emotions.”

Tomberlin’s 89 year old father Hubert was determined to attend the show in spite of declining health. He was released from the hospital just in time to be front and center, but before the show’s end, he had to be escorted to the emergency room.

For Tomberlin, the event was a chance to pay tribute to his roots and show his appreciation for the people who have supported him throughout his life and his career.

“I love coming home to where I was raised, where my dreams were born,” Tomberlin said. “Being with family and great friends like this is amazing. It’s so special to have each and every one of you here. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces, and non-familiar faces, and to just be myself, and to fellowship and to pray. Everyone seems to be going through hard times of some sort and it’s great we can be here for each other.”

Tomberlin expressed his gratitude to Danny and Lisa Rolling and to John Mike and Stephanie McCall, from WTBF, for their hard work putting the concert together. He thanked the show’s sponsors and voiced his appreciation for his hometown friends and neighbors that have been there for him and his father during their current tough season of life via their prayers and acts of kindness.

Tomberlin took his first job as a disc jockey at the age of 11, interviewing icons like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Tammy Wynette and was later discovered by Mel Tillis. Tomberlin is in his 28th year as a staff songwriter for CURB Word Music. He co-wrote “One More Day”, recorded by Diamond Rio, Darryl Worley’s Top 10 hit, “A Good Day To Run” and the Willie Nelson/Barbra Streisand single, “I’d Want It To Be You”.

Tomberlin’s songs have been recorded by Blake Shelton, Faith Hill, Josh Turner, Kenny Rogers, Joe Nichols, Dolly Parton, Rodney Atkins, Joe Diffie, Pam Tillis, Jamey Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Oak Ridge Boys, Terri Clark, John Schneider, Lee Greenwood, Jeannie Seely, and many others.

By Tomberlin’s side in the show was singer/songwriter Tess Frizzell, the daughter of artist Shelly West, niece of Country Music Hall of Fame member, Lefty Frizzell, and the granddaughter of country music legend Dottie West. Frizzell discussed her first single from her soon-to-be-released new album and the song that she and Tomberlin debuted during the concert.

“’The Wrong One’ is a song Bobby and I finished writing based on some lyrics my grandmother Dottie West started. “The Radio Knows” is one we’ve never played for anyone. We wrote it for the new album I’m cutting down in Muscle Shoals that I’m really excited about.”

Joining Tomberlin and Frizzell onstage were Linda Davis, a highly acclaimed three-time Grammy-winning performer, and her husband of almost 40 years, two-time Grammy winner Lang Scott who has written songs for LeAnn Rimes and JoDee Messina and was a member of Reba McEntire’s band.

Davis, best known for her mega-hit duet “Does She Love You” with Reba McEntire and for being the mother of Lady Antebellum star, Hillary Scott, requested that Lisa Rolling join her onstage to sing the famous Reba song. Rolling stated that participating in the duet was the most thrilling moment among her singing opportunities thus far.
Davis, who recorded the first song written by Tomberlin to be played on the radio, has performed with Garth Brooks, George Strait, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels and more, is thankful for her experience in small-town Luverne.

“I feel like I already know all of you because Bobby talks about you all so much,” Davis said. “It’s an honor to be here. Bobby shares stories of all of you everywhere he goes. Seeing how Bobby loves y’all and how y’all love him back and how everyone loves each other and helps look after each other, is just amazing and precious and reminds me of home.”

Mallory Wright of Rutledge attended the concert with her family and said that the packed house was treated to an intimate and unique, heartfelt performance that showcased the best of country music.

“Everyone was so down to earth,” Wright said. “It felt like we had known them for years. While signing autographs they took time with each person including my ten year old daughter Marlee who actually got to sing a song she wrote. Linda and Bobby gave her so many words of encouragement and told her they would be waiting to hear her on the radio. It truly was one of the best nights.”

The Country Rhythm and Blues Band, which plays each Friday night at Coast and Creek in Brundidge, opened the show, performing various country music hits including “Anymore” originally recorded by Travis Tritt. Band members include Lenny Trawick of Brundidge, Gary Garrett and Danny Brown, all of Troy; Eugene Hendrick of Brantley, Karla Harrison and Tyler Harrison both of Enon, Mahlon Ramsay of Bonifay, Florida; and Terry Till of Goshen, whose uncle was Hank Williams Sr.’s father, Lon Williams. Tomberlin became acquainted with The Country Rhythm and Blues Band through his close friend, Till.

Brown said his group is blessed to have this long standing opportunity in Brundidge and to get to know Tomberlin, stating that it was an honor when he sat in with them.

“We’ve been fortunate to make this connection with Bobby who is just a really good person, the kind of person we like to be around. Even though we were a little nervous opening for him and the others, we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the concert. We received great feedback and are already hearing from some that attended that they will be seeing us in Brundidge soon.”

The concert closed with a performance of “Love Remains” by Lang Scott and Linda Davis, and a prayer of healing and comfort for the Tomberlins, those in attendance, the county, the state, the nation, and the world led by Linda.

The event was sponsored by Sessa Productions, Preston’s, Hicks Inc., Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Luverne, Butler Land & Timber, Brantley Bank & Trust, First Citizens Bank, WTBF, Smart Alabama, LLC., City of Luverne, South Alabama Electric Company, Foster Drug Co, INC., and by the show’s premier sponsor, the Chicken Shack.

For more information on the Country Rhythm and Blues Band performances held at Coast and Creek in Brundidge call (334) 566-3408..