Posts Tagged With: Music
Any entertainer will tell you that the real stars of a stage production, are often the unsung heroes, the people who serve behind them in the shadows. Week after week the Arlington Country Music Revue shows are backed by a stellar group of musicians who are all stars in their own rights, and this past Saturday night, they stood front and center and showed just why they’re aptly titled “The Superpickers”.
The first half of the evening the audience was entertained by the familiar production of performers singing a bevy of familiar tunes. Regulars Ginny Lynn, Stephanie Pruitt, Krista Bailey, John Sharp and emcee Michael Hix all took turns at the microphone. Stand out performances were made by Jon Rutherford and James Hinds who had the audience toe-tapping and smiling in unison. Rutherford gave the audience a great rendition of George Strait’s The Fireman, and followed up with his own Love Makes The World Go Round. Hinds followed next, and obviously a seasoned peformer, he didn’t miss a beat, as he built on the energy Rutherford had built. Although his performance was unscheduled, it proved to be one of the evening’s best, as Hinds performed the classic country standards Luckenbach, Texas (Waylon) and Little Sister (Dwight Yoakam).
It was in the second half of the show that the stars began to shine their brightest, as The Superpickers became the main act.
The Superpickers are a group of, give or take, ten musicians who have accumulated countless hours on the road backing some of the biggest names in country music.
Steel Guitar Hall of Famer, Maurice Anderson, kicked off the second half of the show on his pedal steel, with an instrumental rendition of the The Flintstones theme song, that showcased not only his, but the entire band’s top notch talents.
Bass player, Colin Yarbrough, sounding very much like Radney Foster himself as he sang Foster’s Just Call Me Lonesome. With his vocal abilities no longer a secret, I suspect we’ll be hearing more from him on the AMH’s Country Music Revue.
Jeff Williams was up next, on keyboard performing the classic instrumental hit, Last Date, which he followed up by combining his vocal ability with his instrumental one, for Haggard’s That’s The Way Love Goes.
Glen Fleming, has backed up such notable names as Gary Stewart and Ray Price, with his guitar, but on Saturday night he was under the spotlight himself, singing Johnny Cash’s hit Ring of Fire.
Dale Morris, Jr. comes from a long line of talented musicians, and was recently inducted into the Texas Fiddlers Hall of Fame. It was an honor that had previously been bestowed on his father and his uncle. When he isn’t on the road with Ray Price, Morris can be found at the Country Music Revue. On Saturday night, Morris celebrated his musical lineage, by performing Bob Wills’ Home in San Antone.
Guitarist Ron Jones (Charley Pride band), and Maurice Anderson on lap steel performed a memorable instrumental duet of My Little Ballerina. As Maurice headed back to his pedal steel, band member Kevin Bailey, and his harp, joined Jones as he played guitar and sang, for his second number, Workin’ Man Blues.
It was drummer Josh Rodgers’ turn to shine next. Staying behind his drum kit, he performed The Eagles’ Peaceful, Easy Feelin’.
Kevin Bailey’s musical resume is longer than both his arms, and his performance demonstrates that as clearly, if not more than, a paper version would. He was a member of the notable The Shoppe, and currently is a member of the Light Crust Doughboys. He plays guitar, harmonica and banjo, in addition to lead and harmony vocals. Saturday night he performed I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, to a mesmerized and appreciative crowd.
The band’s second Ron Jones’ plays saxophone, and although country music isn’t what he was accustomed to playing before joining the CMR, he has fit in wonderfully. Jones’ previously played with Al Green and Smokey Robinson, and has added a new energy to the band’s performances. On Saturday he performed two numbers including Fats Dominos’ Blueberry Hill.
The show culminated in a standing ovation, the first I’d seen since covering the weekly stage show, and it was well deserved. They played their hearts out that night, much like the do every week, but this time the glory wasn’t shared with a headline performer, and the applause was theirs alone to savor.
The rain was coming down steadily as we made our way east on I30 towards Arlington. We were running late, and we didn’t gain anytime as our GPS misdirected us through a series of back roads, with pooling water, and winding curves. We had planned on catching Bill and Kate Isles’ sound check before attending a previous commitment, but by the time we arrived at The Open Door Coffeehouse, the stage was empty.
Our disappointment was short-lived however, as Bill and Kate graciously greeted us backstage, and sang a few of songs for us in their dressing room. Accompanied only by Bill’s acoustic guitar, their vocals transcended across the room, carrying us miles away from the downpour outside the windows, to a place where their harmonies drifted easily as a breeze brushing across a meadow of wildflowers on a warm summer’s eve. We couldn’t help but be carried away; this was real music, songs with a relaxed, seemingly effortless delivery that told vivid stories layered with truth and crystal clear imagery.
Bill and Kate Isles hail from Duluth, MN, but travel relentlessly, sharing their talents for folk music lovers around the globe. According to Bill, they make their way to the DFW area about once a year. For those of you who missed this opportunity to hear them live this time, their current CD, Still Beneath the Moon and Stars, is the next best thing to being there. I slipped the disc in my CD player this morning and instantly relived listening to their impeccable harmonies of last night, as I listened to “Flood Waters”. The album, packed full of original songs, with the Cindy Walker/Eddy Arnold standard “You Don’t Know Me” tucked tidely away in the middle, will tide you over until the charismatic duo make their way to the Metroplex once again.
In order for any art form to survive, there must be generations willing to pass on the traditions, thankfully for country music, in Arlington, Texas in a restored theatre, there is no shortage of people willing to share the roots of country music weekly in their live country music revue show every Saturday night. The Arlington Country Music Revue, has some pretty solid roots of its own, its beginnings being established in the 1970’s a few miles away in Fort Worth, Texas with the legendary Johnnie High Country Music Revue. Johnny purchased the former movie theater in Arlington in 1994, making it the permanent home for his highly successful weekly production.
The show’s alumni includes such notable names as LeAnn Rimes, Steve Holy, Lee Ann Womack, Gary Morris, John Anderson and Box Car Willie. Most recently Baylie Brown has been short listed on this season’s American Idol.
Seating 1200 patrons, the venue has been painstakingly restored to capture the ambiance of the venue’s heyday. A new addition to the theater, however, is the hospitality room where patrons and performers alike gather before, between and after the show to mingle or grab a bite to eat from the snack bar or Babe’s restaurant next door.
Emceed by the affable Michael Hix, the three hour revue has the feel of a small town Opry show, with the evening kicking off recognition being given to the birthdays of audience members. It’s as if everyone is family, and the lines between performers and audience are blurred so that everyone feels right at home.
Every performer is backed by the venue’s stage band, The Superpicker Band and its no stretch to guess how they came up with their name. Each and every one of them are fine musicians and artists in their own right from Ron Jones on bass who has backed the great Charley Pride to Dale Morris. Jr who tours with Ray Price when he takes his show on the road. Steel player Maurie Anderson is in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and Kevin Bailey is a member of the Light Crust Doughboys. Ron Jones #2 (yes there are two band members with the same name) is a versatile addition to the band, and plays saxaphone, flute and guitar as needed.
I’d be hard pressed to pick only a couple of highlights from the evening, because there was one memorable performance after another taking the stage. John Sharp and Krista Bailey kicked things off respectively with Buck Owens’ Act Naturally and Patsy Cline’s Back in Baby’s Arms. Jon Rutherford performed two new original songs, including one that contained a timely message titled Love Makes the World Go Round. The remaining versatile cast, a mix of regulars and special guests, pay homage to some of country music’s most endearing legends. The high spirited, raw talent was obvious as sixteen year old Kaylea Harris took to the mic, making her debut on the show, belting out Loretta Lynn’s You Ain’t Woman Enough and Waylon Jennings’ Good Hearted Woman. I couldn’t help but think while I was listening to her that she’s going to go far in this business and some day she’s going to be singing these same on a much larger stage.
Bill Brooks had audience members on their feet after a powerful and emotional performance of Alan Jackson’s I’d Love You All Over Again and Dave Keys sang standards from the back catalog of such endearing legends as George Strait and Lefty Frizzell.
Manuel, a Nashville based designer, who has been behind such notable stage costumes as Johnny Cash’ the “Man in Black suit, and Elvis’ gold lame jumpsuit, also created the white stage costume of the evening’s next performer, Burk Collins. He paid homage to Hank Williams They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me and Standing in the Shadows, a song penned by Hank Williams Jr. about his infamous father. Burk’s connection and commitment to the revue goes deeper than his on stage performances. He and his wife Jean, own and operate Center Street Station, which includes The Arlington Music Hall and the Country Music Revue and adjoining buildings.
Hailing from Sulpher Springs, Texas, Monty Tipps took the stage next. Monty works full time as a Detective Sergeant for the community’s police department and spends his off time spending time with his family and singing real country music. The Arlington Music Hall is pleased to welcome him when he’s able to fit them into his busy schedule and the reason was clear as soon as he began his song selections. He took command of Whisperin’ Bill’s Walk Out Backwards and followed up with Ronnie Milsap’s The Girl Who Wait on Tables.
Clancy Davis made his revue debut singing a couple of standards from Merle Haggard and George Jones. I am certain of two things. One – if I closed my eyes I could have sworn that the Hag and Possum were on stage themselves and secondly, gauging by the response from the audience and fellow performers, this Oklahoma native will be extended a return invitation.
You’d think that everything I’ve told you so far would have been a great evening of country music – but wait. That’s only half of it — literally. After a brief intermission there was more great music to be heard from the bluegrass twang of Krista Bailey to the polished vocals of Ginny Lynn. Mike Stewart brought many smiles to the faces in the audience with a rousing, spirited rendition of the George Jones hit I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair and captured the house’s full attention with Jack Greene’s Statue of a Fool. The show’s emcee took his turn center stage proving that his gift for gab is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his talent. He easily made his way through Blake Shelton’s Don’t I Matter Anymore and Vince Gill’s Don’t Let Our Love Slip Away. Ginny Lynn made a second appearance and sang the Harlan Howard classic Pick Me Up on Your Way Down and Burk Collins and Monty Tipps teamed up to tackle the Jones/Haggard hit Born With the Blues.
The evening ended all too soon with Clancy Davis and Dave Keys returning to the stage. Clancy had the crowd revved up with Louisiana Saturday Night and Tennessee Whiskey while Dave turned the fire down a notch, and left everyone feeling mellow, closing with Conway’s Hello Darlin’ and Josh Turner’s Your Man.
As the crowd filtered out I saw smiles on the faces of everyone from the very young, to the not so ready for the rocking chair yet set. Thanks to the Arlington Music Hall and it’s Country Music Revue, its safe to say that the tradition continues.
Upcoming shows in 2012, in addition to the regular Saturday revues:
April 13th – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
April 27th – George Jones
May 26th – Bryan White
September – Marty Stuart