State College

Kenny Rogers says farewell to central Pennsylvania

Kenny Rogers, joined by special guest Linda Davis, performed his last concert in central Pennsylvania Saturday night as part of his farewell tour.

The stop at Eisenhower Auditorium on the Penn State campus was part of Rogers’ “Gambler’s Last Deal” tour, which, as Rogers said, “gave him one last chance to say goodbye and offer a thank you to fans around the world.”

The 78-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame artist has performed to audiences for more than 50 years and the show was a retrospective compilation of his most popular songs.

As the intro to “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” began, Rogers emerged from the side of the stage to thunderous applause as he made his way to a chair positioned in the front-center stage. He delivered the lyric, “And yes, it’s true that I’m not the man I used to be,” as he took his seat where he would deliver an intimate and reflective performance.

Several times throughout the night an emotional Rogers wiped tears from his eyes as he spoke to the crowd verbally and musically.

Cousins, Beth Corsom and Tina Bowersox, from Reedsville, have seen Rogers perform more than 20 times over the 35 years they have been fans. They both said it was sad to see Rogers for the last time, but they will always love his music.

Halfway through the show, Rogers was joined on stage by members of the State College Choral Society to perform Christmas songs. The chorus backed Rogers and Davis on four songs, including a powerful rendition of “O Night Divine.”

As the night was coming to an end, Rogers broke out “The Gambler” and delivered a performance of the song, which had crowd members tapping their feet and clapping their hands to the beat.

For the final chorus of the song, Rogers pointed his microphone toward the crowd with his left hand and tapped his heart with his right. His bright smile outlined by his white beard was lit by the spotlight and for a final time in central Pennsylvania, the Gambler walked away.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi