By Mandi Bierly
Updated October 03, 2011 at 05:44 PM EDT
Frederick Breedon IV/

Last week, I finally got to see country artist Billy Currington headline a show (as opposed to the first two times I saw him, opening for Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney).

And I’m still thinking about his perfectly-constructed five-song encore: It began with a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which, of course, Currington, the singer of the R&B-flavored ballads “Let Me Down Easy” and “Don’t,” would love.

The audience ate it up, particularly the young man behind me who stood and did rhythmic pelvic thrusts for the duration of it. (I can’t find a YouTube clip, but I’ve embedded Currington covering Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” below. Judging from his smile, I suspect he’s seeing similar moves.)

Then came a cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition,” which predictably killed with a few thousand rowdy country fans in Johnstown, PA who’d been drinking for a couple of hours.

After his own “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” (and more pelvic thrusts) came Steve Wonder’s “Superstition,” which got everyone grooving. That’s the kind of song that makes you notice the folks dancing around you; you make friends as you laugh at/join them. By the time Currington ended with his own “Good Directions,” a tipsy twentysomething had thrown his arm around my 64-year-old mother and was swaying her back and forth for the singalong.

What’s the best encore cover song you’ve seen in concert? My colleague Jeff Labrecque will get the nominations started: Josh Ritter doing Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” tops his list.

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