Chris comes home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2006

LASKER – Chris Daughtry acted as though he was right at home here Sunday.

Maybe that’s because he was.

Daughtry, a Lasker native who captured a legion of loyal fans during his performances on the 2006 American Idol television series, returned to his roots with a visit to the home of his grandparents, Calvin and Barbara Jean Daughtry.

While in town, Chris Daughtry performed a 45-minute set in front of approximately 2,000 screaming fans, mostly of the female gender, gathered at the Northeast Academy baseball field. And it just wasn’t the local folks who attended Sunday’s acoustic concert; fans came from as far away as New York, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia.

Sporting his trademark T-shirt, blue jeans and razor-shaved head, Daughtry entertained the crowd all by himself. Picking an acoustic guitar n no doubt a trait he learned long ago in his granddaddy’s famed Lasker Opry House n Daughtry performed a couple of cover songs, including the popular “Wanted Dead or Alive,” but it was his original songs off the Absent Element CD that allowed him to put his enormous musical talent on full display. Included among his original songs was one piece aptly entitled, “Home.”

Accompanying Daughtry was a host of family members and close friends, including his wife Deanna, stepchildren Hannah and Griffin, and parents Pete and Sandra Daughtry. They received prime seating directly in front of the makeshift stage. Behind them was a sea of screaming fans, all with lawn chairs stretched out over the athletic field, but those seats sat empty while Daughtry was on stage.

“It has been a great weekend for us, having Chris home and having family and friends over at my parent’s house,” said family spokesperson Jeff Daughtry, Chris’ uncle. “But it has also been a tiring weekend. There’s been a lot going on in a short period of time, but I guess that is what we can come to expect with Chris’ popularity.”

Northampton County Sheriff’s deputies vehicles were posted near the Daughtry residence. Deputies were also part of the security team at the concert, as were not one, but two sets of bodyguards surrounding Daughtry as he entered and exited the stage area.

The tiny town of Lasker did not let an event of this magnitude go unnoticed. Lasker Mayor Dick Collier presented the hometown celebrity with a resolution declaring June 11, 2006 as Chris Daughtry Day. He also presented Daughtry with a key to the city.

Daughtry’s mother was given a bouquet of roses from the town of Lasker.

Meanwhile, a small army of volunteers n most associated with Northeast Academy n parked cars, cooked and served food and provided the warm hospitality associated with a small-town school.

“Jus Luc” n a local Northampton County band n entertained the crowd prior to Daughtry taking the stage.

Even his shocking elimination from American Idol on May 10 (he was among the final four contestants) has not diminished his popularity. Daughtry has been a guest on the talk show circuit, including The Tonight Show, Total Request Live, The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Daughtry’s rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” would later go on to chart on the Top 100 of iTunes’s most downloaded tracks. For the week of June 10, Daughtry charted #43 on the Billboard Hot 100, being named the Hot Shot Debut of the week.

He also made a cameo on the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, which aired June 8, with actors Jimmy Fallon, Jessica Alba and others while they sang &uot;Bad Day.”