Country music star Vince Gill makes a choking gesture at Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard after the Nashville Predators scored a goal in the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series April 13, in Nashville, Tenn. The Red Wings won 3-2.
If any Red Wings fans ventured to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the start of the Red Wings-Predators playoff series earlier this month, they may have noticed one particularly rowdy Predators fan -- the one in the front row behind one of the goals wearing a "Bertuzzi is a Sissy" shirt and yelling at Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi and his teammates.
He was probably also unloading on the referees. Maybe you even heard him mention that he was celebrating his 55th birthday and that he probably should be a little more mature.
If you did see that guy, and you weren't a country music fan, you probably wouldn't have guessed that it was Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill.
"I can assure you Todd Bertuzzi is anything but a sissy," Gill says, laughing and trying to defend himself. "I love yelling at the boys, and giving them the business. Last year, Bertuzzi skated down in the corner, during some scrum. He looked at me, put both hands up and said, 'Come on out.' I started laughing and said, 'I can't skate.' He called me out on the ice. We kept it up this year."
That's the thing about Gill. You'll find him sitting in the stands or at the local Bob Evans. He plays the guitar and sings a note better than just about any human being who has ever walked the face of the earth, yet he considers himself lucky that you want to listen to him.
"I didn't start playing to become famous or to make a bunch of money. My heart is driven by the sound of music. It's in my bloodline big time. Getting to play music is the biggest gift I could have imagined."
Vince talked on Tuesday from his home in Nashville, yawning and joking that he couldn't believe he was on the phone at 8:30 in the morning. He had been up at 4 the previous morning to appear in New York on Good Morning America and The View. Then he flew home to keep his regular gig with The Time Jumpers -- a bunch of studio musicians who play Monday nights at Nashville's Station Inn.
He isn't exactly slowing down as his golden years loom.
"Once you hit 50, you start looking around and saying, 'I don't have much time left,' " he jokes. "As long as I can perform to the point that it's not embarrassing, I'll do it. Regardless if 20,000 people show up or 200, I just love to play."
Thursday night he started his latest tour, and he'll be stopping at the Sandusky State Theater on May 5. If you want to go, you can find all the ticket information at Sanduskystate.com.
The man has sold 22 million albums and won 27 Grammys, but he doesn't want to talk about that. He wants to talk about singing some songs.
"The people I've always admired and love -- James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Merle Haggard -- they go out there and sing. It's not about bells and whistles or how far I can run up a ramp or jump off something," he says. "I just love to play."
Brian Dugger's column on country music runs in The Blade the last Saturday of every month. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DuggerCountry.