Toby Keith saddles up at the Ford Amp

When it comes to Tampa Bay music taste, country reigns supreme. Whereas Beyonce drew about 6,000 to the St. Pete Times Forum a few months back, Toby Keith routinely sells out the 20,000-capacity Ford Amphitheatre, the Tampa venue where he will host another massive hoedown Saturday. Keith puts on a show of arena-rock proportions that genuinely wowed me the first time I saw him play the Amp several years ago. Yeah, the flag waving during "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" and especially "American Soldier" grew tiresome, but by and large, I had a fun time. And when I interviewed Keith two years ago, he impressed me by keeping a cool head when I confronted him about his support of the Iraq war, mentioning that his pals Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had spoken out against it. "Myself, I feel I'm not educated enough to make a call on why we're there," Keith told me. "With Afghanistan it was clear. … With Iraq, I never understood and never said I did, but still support the troops no matter what. Lastly, it should be noted that Keith at least cowrites the majority of his hits (a rarity in Nashville), all of which can be found on the multilabel-spanning double-disc collection 35 Biggest Hits, which dropped last month.

Toby Keith w/Montgomery Gentry, 7:30 p.m. Sat., June 28, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa.

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