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Friday, 1 January 2010

It was a big crowd of revelers that braved the chilly temperatures to help bring in 2010 in the best method that we can possibly think of--- spending the evening with good friends and enjoying some of the finest classic country music around!  The Jubilee theatre was beautifully decorated and adorned with reminders of the approaching new decade, but before zero hour approached, there was a lot of top entertainment and great music to listen to.

Annie Dunavin welcomed everyone Patsy Cline style (Now, come on in, sit right down and make yourself at home!) then introduced Ronni Ward who was dressed in a beautiful floor-length velvet dress.  Ronni put her vocal talents to good use with Highway 101's "The Bed You Made For Me" and returned later with Tanya Tucker's "Someday Soon," "Kansas City" and "Angels From Montgomery."   Emcee Jim Winters who also is one of the finest male singers around these parts stepped front and center to sing Randy Travis' "Honky Tonk Moon" and George Strait's "Don't Mind If I Do," after introducing musical director and lead guitarist David George and the rest of the Annie's Country Jubilee band.  Later it was Jack Greene's 1961 megahit "Last Letter From Me" and another Strait tune, "Ace In The Hole."  Fred Uzzell did a wonderful job all evening on the steel guitar and dobro, especially his treatment of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" as did "Mighty" Marvin Bredemeier, who got a big hand as he fiddled the "Orange Blossom Special."  Drummer Steve Straub used his tremendous vocal talents to sing Merle Haggard's "Farmer's Daughter" and Ted Ward, the group's bass player also turned in a fabulous vocal performance with "Bobby Sue."  Pretty Haylie Walter can handle a good ole country song with the best of 'em and very fittingly started with a Hank Williams' classic "You Win Again."  She was to return later with Dolly's "Here You Come Again," Tammy Wynette's "Till I Can Make It On My Own" and Martina McBride's "Broken Wing."  And speaking of great vocals, Annie herself was to return with a k d lang tune "Down To My Last Cigarette," Lynn Anderson's "If I Kiss You" and the Judd's "Love Can Build A Bridge."  Great stuff!!

Tonight's first guest artist, the classy Ken Phagley is certainly no stranger to frequent opry and country show attendees as he has been a mainstay at most of these and other venues in the area for many years now.  Dressed to the nines, as he always is, Ken interacted beautifully with the audience as he sang John Michael Montgomery's "Be My Baby Tonight," Elvis' "There Goes My Everything,"  "George Strait's "Fire Man," Charlie Rich's "Most Beautiful Girl" and the upbeat "Johnny B. Goode" and "Whole Lotta Shakin'."  It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without Beth Hunter and this crazy little lady from Albia, Iowa remains one of our favorite performers bar none.  Jimmy Dean's "Bummin' Around" was followed by Janie Fricke's "Someone To Hold Me" and the whimiscal John Hartford tune "Don't Leave Your Records In The Sun" preceeded the infamous "Washing Machine Song." 

It was just super seeing Kevin Olson was on tonight's program.  This naturally talented performer is always such a pleasure to listen to. Tonight he chose Charlie Rich's "Kiss An Angel Good Morning," a Gary Morris song, "Velvet Chains," Keith Whitley's "Don't Close Your Eyes," Doug Stone's "Fourteen Minutes Old" and the Gatlin Brothers' "Broken Lady." Kevin was to return as did many of the other artists for a final set after midnight.  At intermission, everyone was treated to a meal of BBQ beef sandwiches, dill pickles, chips, cookies, punch and an after-dinner mint and just before midnight, festive party hats and noise makers were passed out for the magic hour.  As Jim Winters saluted the upcoming New Year's arrival with Gene Watson's "I Don't Need A Thing At All" and Dave Dudley's "Six Days On The Road" Annie's alter ego, "Ruby" made her 2010 debut, actively persuing poor Jim (and anything else wearing trousers, we expect).  Some things never change!  As midnight officially arrived, Fred Uzzell led a singalong, playing "Ault Lang Syne" on his steel guitar and Beth Hunter sang "Do Lord" and it was Ken Phagely with "Down To The River" before Haylie Walter was kind enough to sing a request from us of Johnny Bush's "What A Way To Live." 

Kevin Olson returned as well with a Ronnie Milsap hit "Daydreams About Night Things" and Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses."  Ronni Ward closed this tremendous evening with Patsy Montana's "He Taught Me How To Yodel," Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and a George Gershwin classic "My Love Is Here To Stay."  Before we forget it" A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EACH AND EVERY ONE  OF YOU OUT THERE!!  And in 2010 let's KEEP IT COUNTRY!!  (Below) top -  l. to r. Kevin Olson, Beth Hunter, Ken Phagley  middle - Jim Winters with a little more than he can handle -- the notorious "Ruby" bottom - Beth Hunter & friends perform "The Washing Machine Song"  JUST A NOTE; Next Saturday Annie will feature our friend Bill Jordan who has returned to the area after living and performing in Branson for several years.  Folks, you don't want to miss seeing Bill...make those reservations early!







Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:38 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 2 January 2010 10:14 AM CST
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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

We finally had the opportunity to see Hot Club Of Cowtown perform.  It always seems as if we have conflicting schedules and have missed seeing them at least twice previously.  Although this was an early show (7PM) and prevented us from interviewing or having any personal contact with the group this time around, we throughly enjoyed watching Shawnee-Mission East graduate Elana James (formerly Elana Fremerman) on vocals & violin (or fiddle, if you hang out the same places we do), Whit Smith handling the lead guitar duties as well as vocals and Jake Erwin on doghouse bass & vocals, perform. 

Their style of combining Western Swing and hot jazz is contageous, the crowd applauded every tune whether it be the Bob Wills' classic "Ida Red," George Jones' "Silver Dew On The Bluegrass Tonight" or Frank Sinatra's "Cheek To Cheek" - all infused with a dose of HCC upbeat elixer.  The formula proved just as potent with original material such as "Eva's Waltz" a tune James wrote about her dog.  Beginning their set with the "Joe-Bob Rag," it was Hank Thompson's "Oklahoma Hills," "Sleep" and a Frank Sinatra classic "Exactly Like You." 

Proving that their formula can even work with classical material, Elana and the guys did an absolutely marvelous job on "Tchanola Swing" before launching an old Ella Fitzgerald tune, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love Baby" and the Mills Brothers' "Chinatown My Chinatown."  Elana had those fiddle strings smokin' with "Orange Blossom Special," then joined Whit and Jake as they sang "Long Way Home."  The evening came to a close with Roy Rogers' "Along The Navajo Trail," "Devil's Dream" and Dean Martin's "I Can't Believe You're Still In Love With Me."  We went home with a CD and are really enjoying listening to it as we write this.  For more information on the group or to order CDs and other merchandise, try their website:  Below:  Hot Club Of Cowtown on stage at Knuckleheads 12/30/09



Posted by hawkshaw5 at 11:04 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 1 January 2010 1:58 AM CST
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

We couldn't get away from work on time tonight and were several minutes late arriving at our normal Tuesday night haunt -- the BK Lounge.  We were greeted by a nice-sized crowd of listeners and dancers alike as we found our normal seats at the big table and although tonight's program was already in progress, we were in time to hear "Marvelous" Marvin Bredemeier (who, of course is the resident fiddler every Saturday night at Annie's Country Jubilee in Tonganoxie, KS) fiddle the Kentucky Waltz, the old fiddle tune "Back Up And Push" and later in the evening sang & fiddled Charlie Daniels "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and was kind enough to play "Ragtime Annie" for yours truly.  Thanks, Marv!  Close on his heels, David Purcell donned his cap & pigtails and in his best Willie voice did a super job singing "On The Road Again" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night."  Dave returned after break and with help from the rest of the band including drummer John Malone, sang a couple of Garry Bichelmeyer creations, "Northern Star" and "The River Is Deep."  Mary Bichelmeyer gave the crowd a treat as she sang Kitty Wells' "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," "Walk The Way The Wind Blows," "Don't Tell Me What To Do" and "Bill Bailey."

Larry Dean was in fine voice himself tonight, singing Delbert McClinton's "Back To Louisiana," Alan Jackson's "Designated Drinker," George Strait's "Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" and after Scott Gilmore sang "Boot Scootin' Boogie" for the line-dancers, it was a Frank Sinatra tune, "The Summer Wind."  The group's great lead guitarist, Gordon Riley and the rest of the band played an original tune of his we all call "Gordon's Boogie," then it was "Sweet Georgia Brown" Merle Travis style and "9 Lb. Hammer," on which he did a excellent job, both singing and picking.  Garry Bichelmeyer got a big hand as he sang Charlie Pride's "Is Anybody Goin To San Antone," "Kansas City" and Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy."  Marvin led the band playing "Ault Lang Syne" and wished everyone a Happy and Safe New Year!!  (Below)  top -  Gordon Riley plalys "Sweet Georgia Brown" Merle Travis style  bottom - Marvin Bredemeier dons his "Charlie Daniels" hat.





Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 December 2009 5:23 PM CST
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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A near capaciity crowd filled the BK tonight in anticipation of a great Christmas program and after Gordon Riley and the rest of the band including John Malone on drums, opened tonight's get-together with "Gordon's Boogie #1,"  Larry Dean got the holiday cheer started with George Strait's "Christmas Cookies' and Elvis' "Santa Claus Is Back In Town."  Larry returned later with John Denver's "Grandma's Feather Bed" and Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December."  Garry Bichelmeyer also chose an Elvis song, "Blue Christmas" to start off with, then it was Waylon's "Wurlitzer Prize" and somewhat later Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy."  "Magnanimous" Marvin Bredemeier was up next (magnanimous means having a dignified and generous nature, which fits our friend Marvin to a "T") and putting bow to fiddle did a beautiful job playing "Goodnight My Love," played & sang "Here Come Santa Claus" and "Winter Wonderland."  Marvin, of course plays fiddle every Saturday night at Annie's Country Jubilee in Tonganoxie, KS. 

Mary Bichelmeyer, Garry's wife and the group's bass player, used her soft, mellow voice tonight to sing Patsy's "Crazy Arms," "Bill Bailey," "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You," and Gordon and the gang returned with a great instrumental of "Silver Bells" a super vocal by Gordon of Buck Owens' "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy" then it was the "Panhandle Rag" and "Honky Tonk." We always enjoy seeing our friend David Purcell perform and tonight he sang a Garry Bichelmeyer song "Northern Star," "Help Me Make It Through The Night" (we saw Kris Krisofferson & Rita Cooledge perform this at a concert here in KC) and later it was Merle's "It's Not Love But It's Not Bad" and in his best "Willie voice," "Remember Me."  Thanks David!  Art Covey made some beautiful sounds himself here tonight as he sang & picked his mandolin to "Deep Water" and the "Kentucky Waltz."

It's been quite a spell since we've seen Rick Mullen and didn't hardly recognize him behind that full beard, but it was great to have him drop in and perform "Singing The Blues."  Rick and his wife Leta have the Glory Barn at 34th & Woodend in KCKS, which has a show every Saturday night.  Ron Fine, also a fine singer dropped in this evening as well and did a marvelous job singing the Waylon/Jessie standard, "Storms Never Last."  This was the first opportunity we've had to meet Jerome Oberle and hear him play his all-button accordian or as they are sometimes referred to: "squeezebox."  Whatever you call them, Jerome got some great sounds from it as he played "Pennsylvania Polka," "White Christmas" and closed the festivities this evening with the "Blue Skirt Waltz" and "Silent Night."  (Below) Jerome Oberle plays "White Christmas" on his accordian



Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, 24 December 2009 12:33 PM CST
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Saturday, 19 December 2009

As master-fiddler Larry Ellis and the rest of the Big Creek band, including Kevin Hoff on drums, Ted Cline on bass and Mike Campbell on banjo/guitar opened the show with "The Rocker Arm Reel," Big Creek's owner, operator & emcee Dennis Dittemore welcomed everyone to tonight's gala event with "The Christmas Polka."  Debbie Martin (or Debbie Erikson if you're a KFKF listener) continued the holiday theme, singing "Winter Wonderland" and "Do You See What I See," beautifully while maestro Phil HIlton did an incredible job with "Jingle Bells" and "Chariots Of Fire."  Cindy Dittemore did a spectactular job herself here tonight as she sang "All I Want For Christmas Is You," joined Debbie on "Jingle Bell Rock" then returned later with Amy Grant's "Tennessee Christmas."  It's always a gas to see and hear Mike Campbell play banjo (and guitar) and tonight he got the feet shufflin' with "Raw Hide," "Dear Old Dixie" and "Hee Haw Junction" with Larry Ellis and the band.  Jim Lower is one of the finest lead guitar players we've heard and tonight he treated the crowd to some great instrumental work as he played "Faded Love" and "Frankie & Johnnie."  Santa himself made a personal appearance here tonight, conveniently arriving right at intermission with sacks of candy and goodies for all the "children" in the audience!

We always enjoy hearing Kevin & Ted Cline sing that good 'ol classic country music and tonight they began with a Buck Owens' tribute with Kevin singing "Love's Gonna Live Here Again" and "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy" and Ted, "I'll Go To Church Again With Momma."  Returing later Ted was to sing Mel Street's "Big Diamonds" and Johnny Rodriquez's "Love Put A Song In My Heart"  while Kevin sang Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper" (Ray Benson told us once that Willie saw a man with no legs on a skateboard in San Antonio selling pencils, envelopes & paper and it inspired this song) and Ronnie Milsap's "Back On My Mind Again."  This is the second time we have seen Tracy Allison from Freeman, MO perform and again we are very impressed with this young lady's natural abilities and presence.  Among her selections tonight were Suzy Bogguss' "Two Step Around The Christmas Tree," Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone," "Someday Soon" (we saw Ann-Margaret do this at Andy Williams' theatre in Branson years ago) and Alan Jackson's "The Angels Cried."

Our pal Larry Smith is always a big hit here at Big Creek whenever he performs and tonight he certainly showed why as he started things off with a Moe Bandy hit "Too Old To Die Young" followed by Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December" and a seasonal tune written by Larry himself entitled "Put Christ Back In Christmas."  Larry returned the second half with the Johnny Russell written, Gene Watson performed "Got No Reason Now For Going Home," a request for a just-retired friend, Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job And Shove It," George Jones' "She Thinks I Still Care" and the moving "I Was There."  Dennis closed the evening, reminding everyone what Christmas is truly about with "Oh, Holy Night" and Larry Ellis and the band played "2 O'Clock In The Morning" as the curtain closed.  (Below)  top - Cindy & Dennis visit Santa  middle - Debbie gives Santa her wish list (and a hug!)  bottom - Wonder what Larry Smith's gonna get from Santa?





Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2009 12:00 AM CST
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Friday, 18 December 2009

A big crowd of bluegrass watchers and jammers decended on the Northcross United Methodist Church tonight for the monthly club meeting and stage show of the Heart Of American Bluegrass & Oldtime Music group or H.A.B.O.T. as it is commonly called.  President Mary Eddings welcomed everyone to tonight's show and introduced Ruth Graham & June Smitha who opened tonight's show with "Jesus & Me" and Christmas.  What a pleasant surprise to see our friend John Lowe from Cameron, MO drop in tonight and sing "Don't Be Angry" and Hank Jr.'s "'Leven Roses" for the appreciative audience.  John's Take Five Band will be performing every 2nd & 4th Sundays from 2-5 PM at the Plattsburg 4H building (we plan on being there January 10th).  Mattie Radabaugh did a swell job singing Loretta's "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Walking My Lord Up Calvery Hill" and Jean Bartee got a big hand as she sang "Johnny & Sally" and "Baby Girl."  The "house band" which accompanied these artist was composed of Cotton Sanders on fiddle (he made it sing like a bird as he played 'Listen To The Mockingbird), Irvin Martin on guitar ("Too Old To Die Young") and Walt Weigand, also on guitar ("Silent Night").

Tonight's first group, Liberty Highway are certainly no strangers to us, either individually or collectively as they have played together for the past 4 years and have been part of HABOT as individuals since we began attending meetings here.  Composed of Chris Adkins on banjo, Ted Huff on guitar, Lynn Peeples on bass, the newest addition to the group, Billy Sprouse and of course the incomparable Jim Downs on mandolin, the band kicked off tonights set with Jim singing "Nine Pound Hammer" followed by "Hills Of West Virginia," "Old Ship Of Zion," "Trains Are The Only Way To Fly," "Tune Of A Twenty Dollar Bill," "Black Diamond Coal," Hallelujah I'm Ready" and an instrumental, "Doc's Breakdown."  Jim and the boys continued with "Waiting At The Gate," a song about the late Bill Monroe, Del McCoury's "Vincent Black Lightning 1952," "Three Men On A Mountain" and one of our favorite bluegrass tunes, Jimmy Martin's "Sunny Side Of The Mountain."

We saw this next group of young musicians who call themselves Copper Creek perform last month at KCABMC and were quite impressed.  If this is the future of bluegrass music then rest assured it will be in good hands.  With Josh Musik on guitar, Nathan Hawkins on banjo, Bethany Musik on mandolin, Rachael Musik on rhythm guitar, Ellie Asher on fiddle, Lea Asher, bass, Daniel Hawkins on mandolin and Sara Musik on fiddle, they played some old-time favorites with some clever improvisations on their part.  Beginning with "Cotton Eyed Joe," it was "Red Wing," "Black Eyed Susie," "Old Time Religion," "Temperance Reel," "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Faded Love."  "Are You Washed In The Blood," was followed by "Y'all Come," "Old Joe Clark," "Down Yonder," "There Is A Time," "The Banjo And The Holler," a medley of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away," "Orange Blossom Special" and "Go Tell It On The Mountain."  Closing the set, all the ladies blended their voices beautifully on "Winter Wonderland." 

It's always such a privledge and a pleasure to see and listen to tonight's third group -- the Hootin' Annies perform.  With Karla Campbell on bass, Patti Nance on dobro, Stephanie Hope on Fiddle, Mary Bliefnick on banjo and Cynthia McKechnie on guitar, this group has won almost every prestigious bluegrass group award they have set out to conquor.  Patti began tonight's set with "Preachin'-Prayin'" and later it was Buck Owens' "Santa Looks A Lot Like Daddy" while Mary got a big hand for "Paint The Town" and "Banjo Pickin' Girl."  Stephanie led the group with voice and fiddle on "Down The Old Plank Road" and "Jingle Bells" while Cynthia (or Blondie, if you prefer) did a marvelous job with "Winter's Come And Gone."  Karla told the musical story of "He Goes To Church On Sundays Now" followed by "Ain't Takin You Back," "Santa Baby," "Oh Christmas Tree" and by request the ever popular "Automobile Song" or "MMMMMotor Vehicle."

Mary Eddings wished everyone Happy Holidays and invited one and all to return in January.  HABOT meets the third Friday of each month September thru April. MAKE HABOT A HABIT!!  (Below) top - The Hootin Annies  middle - Copper Creek  bottom - Liberty Highway







Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, 19 December 2009 1:13 PM CST
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Carl Butler's Gospel Lounge is held in a small 2-room area adjacent to the main indoor stage at Knuckleheads every Wednesday evening and features a super band composed of Carl Butler on lead guitar & vocals, John Nichols, keyboards/organ & vocals, Dale Zea on drums, Frank Infranca on bass & George Lamp on keyboards.  John kicked things off tonight with "Pass Me Not" then backed Carl as he sang "Ancient Of Days" and then returned to sing the Bee Gees' "Words."  Carl & John teamed up to do a Willie & Waylon classic, "Good Hearted Woman" and before introducing tonight's guest artist, Carl sang the gospel number "Your Name Is Like Honey" to the delight of tonight's crowd.

It has been awhile since we have seen Pat Pierce and enjoyed his great keyboard playing and vocals, we believe it must have been at Annie's Country Jubilee back in the summer sometime.  It was really an awesome sound here tonight with the three keyboard artists playing off one another.  Pat got the joint shakin' as he got right into Asleep At The Wheel's (he swears that group was named after Vanna White) "Boogie Back To Texas."  Next up was Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' The Dog," an instrumental - "Mercy Mercy," Ray Charles' "What I Say," Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" and a super upbeat version of "Misty."  It was certainly a pleasure seeing Pat again and meeting his daughter Sasha.  He's a great entertainer.

Pastor Carl had a short but sweet Christmas message tonight.  He encouraged us to remember that no matter what we give, it can never eclipse what God gave to us.....and that should be the spirit of Christmas.  Material gifts soon disappear, the best gift we can possibly give is a gift of ourselves.  He remarked that his mother has had some extremely serious health issues recently and this Christmas he plans on giving her something extra special........spending some quality time with her. Amen.  It was also great having Pat Irvin drop in tonight and enjoy the festivities.  (Below) Pat Pierce boogies back to Texas with help from Carl Butler (r)



Posted by hawkshaw5 at 11:07 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 26 December 2009 10:54 PM CST
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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Larry Dean kicked off tonight's festivities with the cheery Roy Orbison tune, "Pretty Paper" and Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Thru December."  He was to return later with "Back To Louisiana," Brooks & Dunn's "Boot Scootin Boogie" and Jerry Lee's "All Shook Up."  Lead guitar Gordon Riley led the band, including drummer John Malone on instrumentals "Birth Of The Blues," "Buckaroo" and "The Bells Of St. Mary."  Gordon also received a big hand as he picked & sang Hank Thompson's "Six Pack To Go."  "Magnanimous" Marvin Bredemeier, who fiddles each and every Saturday night at Annie's Country Jubilee in Tonganoxie, KS, played the beautiful "Waltz You Saved For Me," "Rubber Dolly," sang the "She's Too Fat For Me Polka" (what was that all about?), Bob Wills' "Milk Cow Blues" and our favorite fiddle tune "Ragtime Annie."  The group's resident bass player Mary Bichelmeyer was up next and she did a wonderful job tonight singing Hank Sr.'s "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," Patsy Cline's "Crazy Dreams," and Ray Price's "Crazy Arms." 

Garry Bichelmeyer, Mary's husband and one of the cleverest song writers you'll ever run  into, at Gordon Riley's suggestion, dedicated the evening's performance to Tiger Woods, who as everyone is aware of, has been getting a lot of flack in the news lately.  For the occassion Garry wrote and performed a clever parody of the old Buck Owens hit, "Tiger By The Tail" entitled "She's Got Ol' Tiger By The Tail" which had the audience rolling in the aisles.  This little charmer was followed by an actual song released some years ago by John Denver, "Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk This Christmas."  Garry returned after break with Krisofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and with Mary sang the Johnny Cash/June Carter smash "Ring Of Fire."  We always get such a kick when Art Covey is here to play his mandolin and sing and tonight he picked three good 'uns: "Deep Water," "The Kentucky Waltz" and "Hobo's Lament."

We brought along some lyrics to a song we heard Saturday Night, a tune sung by Vince Gill - "My Name Is Christmas Carol" and Scott Gilmore who with wife Lisa almost always brings those cute little redheaded kids (Matthew & Kylie) of theirs in to hear the band play, volunteered and did a bang-up job singing this great little Christmas story in song.  We were thrilled to see Annie Little back tonight and she used her beautiful voice the first half to sing "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow."   She also closed the evening out with "A Very Special Grace." (Below)  Scott Gilmore  sings "My Name Is Christmas Carol" for the audience's enjoyment



Posted by hawkshaw5 at 10:45 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 December 2009 11:59 PM CST
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Saturday, 12 December 2009

Although the Middle Creek Theatre has officially closed it's doors for the season (will reopen March 13, 2010), Bill & Brenda Harris decided to hold this special event tonight to help out a friend, Carl Butler who is Middle Creek's resident bass player and is a great all-round entertainer, organizes & emcees the Gospel Lounge held each Wednesday night at Knuckleheads and, along with wife Sharon, ministers the New Song Christian Fellowship located in KC's Northland each Sunday.  Carl and his family have undergone tremendous financial strains recently due to the health issues faced by his mother Bernice, who was just released from the hospital after suffering a recent heart attack.  The outpouring of love and support for Carl and family by not only the many musicians who contributed their time and talent here this evening, but the big crowd of country music lovers who chose to come out and support Carl and his family was heartwarming to say the least. 

Emcee and lead guitar Elijah Chastain welcomed everyone and began the evening's entertainment with a Skip Ewing song, "My Name Is Christmas Carol," then introduced one of Middle Creek's three great female singers, Barbara Walker and her husband R. J.  Barbara began the set with Sara Evans' "Walk Out Backwards" and Crystal Gayle's "Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For" and was accompanied by R. J. on a Gordon Lightfoot tune, "Song For A Winter's Night."  R. J. did a terrific job himself as he played and sang George Strait's "Troubador" for the enthusastic crowd.  It's been quite a spell since we've had the pleasure of seeing and listening to Andy Lindberg sing, but we'll always remember what an outstanding vocalist he is and tonight he wowed this crowd with a couple of Vince Gill chartbusters, "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away," "Pocket Full Of Gold" and Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman."  Angie Larson, who not only has played keyboard here for many years, but is an outstanding vocalist in her own right and tonight, sporting a brand-spanking new rhinestone-studded belt, looked as good as she sounded as she sang "How Can I Forget" and Dottie West's "Don't Touch Me."  It's always such a pleasure to see A. J. Cronk (he plays with Pat Irvin as part of Tater & the Gravy Train each Wednesday night at Harry's Country Club.  They are off this month, but will return in January) and tonight he did a bang-up job picking and singing Merle's "Working Man Blues" and Sawyer Brown's "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" (he also did a verse John Anderson style).  Jamie Gumm-Ogle's vocal qualities are almost legendary and tonight she sang both Connie Smith's "Ain't Had No Lovin'" and Carrie Underwood's "I Told You So" beautifully before introducing the man himself, Carl Butler.  Carl sped things up a bit with "Louisiana Saturday Night" then dedicated to his mother, her favorite gospel number "Look For Me."  Middle Creek's outstanding steel guitar player, Bobby DeMoss closed the first half with "Steel Guitar Rag."

Elijah kicked off the second half with a Johnny Bush tune "What A Way To Live," then it was an awesome instrumental of Ray Stevens' "Misty" before introducing good friend Buddy Ring.  Buddy got a big audience response as he picked and sang a Charlie Louvin classic "Think I'll Go Somewhere & Cry Myself To Sleep" and Ray Price's "Sweet Memories."   John Nichols, who, with Carl, plays a big part in the success of the Gospel Lounge each Wednesday night sang "You Are My Sunshine" and with Carl & Angie providing the harmony, Merle Haggard's "Natural High."  Brad Meadows showed his prowess behind the drums with a great job of "Wipeout" and then gave the appreciative audience a taste of his vocal abilities, singing Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight."  Mike Bowman, whose long-awaited CD has just been released, dropped in tonight as well and brought down the house with George Jones' "The Race Is On," Merle's "If We Make It Through December" and Webb Pierce's "There Stands The Glass."  We didn't have much of a chance to visit with Mike afterwards (he was busy signing CDs), but understand he will be at Big Creek New Year's Eve if you would like to purchase his new CD.

Barbara & R. J.'s 13 year-old daughter, Maddie Walker showed her keyboard skills, playing "Rockin Around The Christmas Tree" and then it was Barbara singing Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas," Angie's "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and Jamie with "Oh Holy Night."  Mike Bowman returned to sing Ricky Skagg's "New Star Shining" before Carl & Jamie blended their voices beautifully on one of our favorite gospel numbers, "The Lighthouse."  The whole gang including Maddie & Jake Walker and Emma & Aidan Ogle closed this stupendous evening with "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."  Over $1100 was raised for Carl's family here tonight, but if you couldn't make it and would like to contribute it would be very much appreciated.  Please mail those contributions to:  Carl Butler, 600 NE 101st St., Kansas City, MO 64155.  Although Middle Creek will be closed for the next couple of months plus, other events will be held at the theatre and several suprises are planned for next season.  For more information check out their website at:  (Below) top - Rev. Carl Butler sings "Look For Me" center - Emcee Elijah Chastain sings "What A Way To Live" bottom - Mike Bowman sings "If We Make It Through December"







Posted by hawkshaw5 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 December 2009 6:10 PM CST
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Friday, 11 December 2009

President Byron Jones welcomed everyone to the December edition of the Kansas City Area Bluegrass Music Club and with the help of treasurer Jim Long disposed of a minimum of club business and it was on with the music!  However Byron noted that it had been necessary for one of tonight's bands, Misty Mountain Revival to cancel as one of their members, Gary Gray (who also plays banjo with the Great White Possum String Co.) was involved in a horrific accident a couple of days ago which resulted the severing of fingers on his left hand.  Please join us in keeping Gary and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Although Blue Monday's members have only been playing together for a couple of years now, individual members have many years of experience in bluegrass music and most belong to other groups as well.  Consisting of Jim McGreevy - banjo/vocals, Al Hellebuyck - guitar/vocals, Fred Owings - guitar/vocals, Lee Glaze - guitar/vocals, Dick Harris, mandolin/vocals, Larry Cook, bass and joining them tonight, Rob Collins, mandolin.  Lee kicked off the set with "Look For Me" with Jim & Rob providing the harmony and returned later with "Millionaire" and "Lonesome Song."  Next Fred was to tell us all about that "Blue Ridge Mountain Girl" and returned with "Oh I Want To See Him" and "This World Is Not My Home."  We always enjoy hearing Al Hellebuyck sing, ever since we first saw him perform at the Thursday Night Opry with Sugar Ridge several years ago.  Tonight he did a marvelous job with "Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore," "More Than A Name On A Wall" (a colossal hit for the Statlers) and "East Of The Blue Ridge."  Dick must have brought his own cheering section as he got a big hand as he sang "On The Wings Of Angels," "Keep The Candles Burning" and "Going Back To The Blue Ridge Mountains."  (Could be he's just that good, too!)  Jim McGreevy as well as singing some great harmony and playing super banjo here tonight, led the guys on an old bluegrass instrumental, "Arab Bounce," then joined Rob Collins and the rest on "Tombstone Junction."  In closing, Lee led the band and audience in a couple of verses of "Silent Night" to commemorate the upcoming Christmas Holiday. 

What a gas it was to see Mark & Mary Franzke again here tonight!  We saw this talented couple from Prairie Village, KS here several weeks ago and definately appreciate the effort it takes to manuver that big motorized wheel chair of Mary's down to the basement and to the foot of the stage, just so they might perform for us.  They are indeed a treat to see and listen to, he with his terrific musicianship(guitar, both flattop & finger picking styles, mandolin, banjo, vocals and who knows what else?) and she with her soft melodious voice.  Mark was once a member of Prairie Fire and he and Mary have sang together for 33 years, 31 of those years as husband and wife.  Among the numbers they chose tonight were "I'll Stay Around," "Don't Fix Up The Doghouse Cause This Old Dog Is Gone," "Dark As The Night," "I'm Workin On A Buildin' For My Lord," "Who Will Watch The Home Place," "Please Don't Wake Me Tonight While I'm Sleepin," "Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor" and a song written by Mark and played on Public Radio, "The Car Buyer's Lament."  Next up was Mary Harris whom Byron introduced as the "Rustic Lady."  Mary played a simply beautiful autoharp, an instrument that was played by Mother Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family some years ago but is rarely heard of these days.  Beginning with the "Cheat River Reel," it was "Golden Slippers," "Red Wing" (vocals as well) and our favorite fiddle tune - now autoharp as well - "Ragtime Annie."

The Bluegrass Karaoke group is always one that Byron puts together, sometimes at the last minute but one that always brags of top-flight musicians and never fails to excite and entertain the audience.  Tonight on rhythm & vocals was Byron Jones, lead guitar - Kevin Jones, bass - Jim Downs, , bass - Mark Franzke, mandolin - and on vocals - Chastity Jones.  Joining Byron, daughter-in-law Chastity, who has been part of Byron's Northtown Opry for the past 20 years, harmonized beautifully on "Columbus Stockade Blues" and the Porter/Dolly classic "Holdin' On To Nothin."  After Byron sang "One Of These Days," she was to return with Randy Travis' "Rise And Shine," "Hang Around" and Emmylou Harris' "Those Memories Of You," a bit later.  Hubby Kevin Jones also chose a Emmylou number, "One Of These Days" and an old bluegrass standard, "Little Cabin Home On The Hill" before joining Mark, Jim and the rest of the band on instrumentals "Salt Creek" and "Home Sweet Home."  Byron ended tonight's festivities by leading everyone in the hymn "I Saw The Light." (Below) top - Mark & Mary Franzke making sweet music together  bottom - Byron & Chastity Jones harmonize on Porter & Dolly's "Holdin' On To Nothin'."





Posted by hawkshaw5 at 10:01 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 12 December 2009 1:51 PM CST
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