AUSTIN - How could the CMA Entertainer of the Year take the night off in a music city such as Austin?
He couldn't. And about 11 p.m. CT, Garth Brooks — after dropping several hints of a secret Friday night gig — took the stage at the Broken Spoke, a traditional Texas dance hall just southwest of the state capital.
When he began playing the song Friends in Low Places -- armed with just his acoustic guitar — many regulars there got a big surprise realizing the megastar was in the house.
In addition to offering up his own hits such as The Thunder Rolls, Calling Baton Rouge and The Dance, Brooks paid tribute to some of his favorite country artists by playing versions of George Strait's Amarillo By Morning, Merle Haggard's The Fighting Side of Me, George Jones' He Stopped Loving Her Today and Joe Nichols' Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.
"I haven't got to do something like this in a hundred years," Brooks said.
The experience, Brooks said, left him "fired up for tomorrow night" when he plays an outdoor show Saturday night at Austin's Lady Bird Lake.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.