COUNTRY IN THE CITY

Country music's connection to New York is deep and ongoing.

The city has been the site of major country events like Garth Brooks' record-breaking Central Park show in 1997 and a special concert by the artists of O Brother, Where Art Thou? at Carnegie Hall in June. But in just the month leading up to the World Trade Center attacks, Tim McGraw and Lee Ann Womack had been in town to perform on the Today show, Ralph Stanley and The Whites played on the CBS network's The Late Show With David Letterman, and BR549 appeared on NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Mark Wills held an album release party on the deck of the USS Intrepid, which was docked in New York in the Hudson River.

One country fixture in the Big Apple was the long-running series of free lunchtime concerts at the foot of the World Trade Center itself. Toby Keith's first trip to New York was to play there, while the weeks leading up to the disaster had seen shows from stars like Trick Pony, Rascal Flatts and Tracy Byrd. "I'm sure we may have lost some of the business folks that came out to listen on their lunch break," says Terri Clark, who performed there in July.

"It freaked me out how high the towers were," says Phil Vassar, who also played at the site, "and now I can't even fathom that they're not there."

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