Mountain Spring – June 13, 2015

Despite rain early, the crowd this evening was treated to some fine bluegrass and gospel from Mountain Spring, and those who came early enjoyed a number of players jamming before the performance.

There was a great jam among several musicians prior to the Mountain Spring performance

There was a great jam among several musicians prior to the Mountain Spring performance
(Click on this image to see more photos of the jam.)

(More photos and a story coming soon?)

Prairie Grove Band – June 6, 2015

Every Saturday we are subject to all kinds of conditions over which we have no control, so we just plug away at the work we do and hope for the best. It was really warm when we arrived in Mount Ida Saturday, June 6, and ominous clouds were moving all around us. We have a couple of folks who have the hi-tech phones, and we watched and anticipated the storm that kept flirting with our location. Not to worry, it came within a mile, and all we got was wonderful cool air. A lot of folks who came up from the east told us that it had stormed all along the way until they got near Mount Ida! We watched the lightning and heard the thunder as the storm hooked around the ‘Stage and left us with a perfect evening for our Prairie Grove Band concert. Showtime!

We always enjoy The Prairie Grove Band when they perform on The Front Porch Stage!

We always enjoy The Prairie Grove Band when they perform on The Front Porch Stage!
(Click on this image to view more photos from June 6, 2015)

As always with Prairie Grove, we enjoyed a great show with some great and unexpected wrinkles. Before we started, we heard that Jake Powell’s Dad had been stung by a bee and was rushed to the hospital,  so Jake had to miss out on the show. As always, the band just reworked the list and the show was on. They kicked off with “Will the Circle Go Unbroken”, performing some fine picking between the verses. Melissa Lewis did an outstanding job as a special guest with an outstanding version on “Waiting For the Times to Get Better”.  Jerry Lambert got in the act early with another gospel tune, “I Have Decided”. As the set progressed, Mark and Tommy took up the slack with fine versions of “Come Unwound”, “All My Exes Live in Texas”, and Tommy did a bang up job on the perfect country and western tune “You Never Call Me By My Name”! Jerry Lambert showcased one of his original tunes” – Cowboy Dan” – that was really well received by the crowd. The first set ended with the classic swamp country tribute, “Poke Salad Annie”.

After a short intermission, the show continued with Mark belting out the classic “Hey Good Lookin”. With Prairie Grove you just never know for sure what they’ll pull out of the hat, so it was not a real surprise when Tommy sang “Unchain My Heart”. Next up was another Special Guest, Jeb Willborg! Jeb is Fourteen and without a doubt has a career in music if he so chooses. He wowed us with a terrific version of “The Cowboy Rides Away”, and the crowd roared it’s approval. As always with Praire Grove, they mix it up with all kinds of tunes, and Saturday was no exception, as Jerry got into the act again on Keys and Vocals with a Bob Seeger classic “Turn the Page”. You can always count on these guys for crowd appreciation as they sang “Happy Birthday” to Betty Gibson, 69 years YOUNG. They finished the show with one of my all time favorite tunes, “Stand Up”, and another great Saturday night came to a close.

Special thanks to all our volunteers, and real special thanks to Johnette and Ty for their help with the Backporch Kitchen!

Prairie Grove will be back with us on the Forth of July! Y’all Come!

Shelley King, and The Davanzo Family Band – May 30, 2015

Saturday’s forecast for rain was just way off, and we had a perfect evening and TWO great shows! Shelley King got the crowd warmed up, and then The Davanzo Family Band jumped right in with 16 year old Nick kicking off their show with “Carolina in the Pines”. We were very lucky and appreciative to have all of these fine performers available this evening!

Shelley King and husband Perry Drake lead off the evenings performances.

Shelley King and husband Perry Drake lead off the evenings performances.

We want to give a big “Thank You” to Shelley King, her husband Perry Drake and their son Clark for stopping by Mount Ida and The Front Porch Stage. Shelley grew up just down the road in Caddo Gap and was in town to take part in a time capsule opening that turned out to be fun, but the contents of their capsule were damaged a bit by water. Despite the disappointment of the time capsule, Shelley delighted us all with a set of mostly originals. Shelley was accompanied on stage by her husband Perry on percussion.

Shelley started her performance with a song about the Caddo River, called “Call of My Heart”, about a dream of the Caddo. Shelley also played one great cover of Larry Campbell’s – “When I Go Away” – a Levon Helm favorite; Shelley had the honor of getting to sing with Levon before his passing. Shelley is currently touring her newest album, called “Starting a Fire”, and performed a killer version of the song by the same name. Shelley said getting to come play here just made her weekend better! 
Our sincere thanks to Shelley King, and also to Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa, who sponsored Shelley’s concert set, and who generously support the Front Porch Stage. We look forward to Shelley’s next visit!

When the Davanzo Family Band took the stage, Nick’s “Carolina in the Pines” set the Bluegrass tone and got their performance off to a great start. The Front Porch Stage crowd enjoyed outstanding instrumentals, great song selection and some fine bluegrass standards from this terrific family band, featuring Brittany on the fiddle, Monica on mandolin, Nick on the banjo, Mom Bridget on the upright bass, and Dad Carmen on the guitar. They wove in some great gospel with “What a Time In Heaven” and “Are You Washed in the Blood”.  They ended their first set  with “If Wishes Were Horses”, a song they have on CD.

The Davanzo Family Band

The Davanzo Family Band
Click on this image to view more photos from this evening’s performances by Shelley King and The Davanzo Family Band

The Davanzo’s second set was just as great as the first! They kicked it off with a great instrumental that featured
all all three “children”, all great musicians. They got a rousing ovation for their version of “Sitting on Top of the World”! Brittany told how that after their Dad Carmen taught them to play, they went out and bought a bass, and one day when their Mom Bridget came home from work, they presented her with the bass and congratulated her on becoming the “Bass Player” (it did not take long for her to fit right in!). They featured her on a bass-loaded Foggy Mountain Special instrumental.
 They closed their second set with a gospel tune, “Daniel Prayed”, followed by “Love Please Come Home Tonight”. The crowd insisted on an encore and were rewarded with a really great tune,  “Find Me Out on the Mountain”. We tremendously enjoyed the Davanzo Family and want to thank Carmen and Bridget for raising such great kids and great musicians, and for sharing all of their talents with us.


Mike Mayberry and The Slow Hands at Good Ol’ Days – May 23, 2015

For The Front Porch Stage’s Jerry and Jane Babbitt, the day starts early with their participation at Mount Ida’s Good Ol’ Days event.  In addition to providing announcement services for Good Ol’ Days, Jerry gets to play music for the crowd between announcements, while Jane runs the Back Porch Kitchen.

After Friday’s Good Ol’ Gospel rain-out, the weather turned to the good, and Saturday was a beautiful and dry day for this special event in Mount Ida.

Click on this image to view more Good Ol Days Festival Pictures.

Click on this image to view more Good Ol’ Days Festival Pictures.

Our friend John Talley was under the weather, so he was unable to perform on the Stage. In his stead, we played CDs and made announcements until our feature band – Mike Mayberry and the Slow Hands – showed up. We got them set up, and once they started, they didn’t quit!

The band played a wonderful mix of country, rock, country rock and a bunch of great oldies.

Towards the end of the evening, Mike invited an old friend – James Scrimshire – to come on stage and play some old country tunes. Mike told us all that James was the reason he gave up a career in politics. Mike’s mom thought he could be president someday, but instead he started playing music with James, and politics went out the window. Our thanks to James for saving us from Mike the politician!

Mike Mayberry and The Slow Hands entertained the Good Ol' Days crowd for over 3 hours NONSTOP!

Mike Mayberry and The Slow Hands entertained the Good Ol’ Days crowd for over 3 hours NONSTOP!
(Click on this image to view more pictures from the evenings music event.)

Mike Mayberry and the Slowhands were just wonderful, playing old favorites in every genre, and they played until we finally told them we needed to stop so we would have time to put everything away before the rain moved in again. We had so many good comments and requests from the delighted crowd that we have them back, we asked them about next year! They agreed and will be here again next year for Good Ol’ Days.

All in all, this was a great day! There were over one hundred cars in the Good Ol’ Days car show, and everyone had a real good time.

Thanks to everyone who helped us out with The Possum Store, and a big THANK YOU to our Back Porch Kitchen crew for their long hours serving up the Nathan’s Hot Dogs and the Root Beer Floats! It’s the Kitchen and the Possum Store that keep the concerts going, and we all appreciate your supporting us. A big round of praise for all our volunteers that made this Good Ol’ Days event a most memorable one.

Good Ol’ Gospel Friday – May 22, 2015

It seemed that the weather forecast for Friday did a reversal after we got started with our preparations for the evening concert.

Casey Penn and  part of her band from Benton, and Level Ground, also from the Benton area, were the featured groups. We had just finished a sound check when the first sprinkle started. Then, shortly after Casey started, the rains came, and we only had one person in the audience braving the wet weather.

Both bands had come to play, so all decided to make music with anyone who wanted to join in. Mike Adams and Jerry Robertson got their instruments and joined this impromptu jam session.

Great music happens when great musicians get together for an impromptu jam on a rained-out Friday night in Mount Ida

Great music happens when great musicians get together for an impromptu jam on a rained-out Friday night in Mount Ida.
(Click on this image to view more photos of the jam session)

Casey’s band members include Stan Townsend on guitar and bass, and Brian Nalley on mandolin.

Level Ground members are Joe Chambers, Gary Pelton, Jim and Jeni Hill, and Steve Dicicco on Harmonica.

All musicians jammed for a couple of hours, and new friendships and musical opportunities are almost certainly to develop. Jerry Robertson and Casey should do some duets!

We eventually got the one lady on the lawn up on stage. We all tremendously enjoyed a really great jam session that continued after we took the stage gear away.

We are really looking forward to August 8th when Casey will appear with her entire band.

We are disappointed about yet another rain-out this spring. Many, many thanks to Casey Penn and her band and to Level Ground for braving the weather, coming to Mount Ida, and making the very best of the situation.

Southwind Rained Out – May 16, 2015

Unfortunately, Southwind has been rained out tonight, May 16, 2015.

Unfortunately, Southwind has been rained out tonight, May 16, 2015.

Very disappointing, but for the second week in a row, the Front Porch Stage is being rained out! We were all looking forward to enjoying the music of Southwind for their first-ever performance here, but it was not to be. Too much rain has left the Courthouse grounds very soggy, and the predictions for this evening are not encouraging.

For those of you who were looking forward to hearing Dewayne Hodges last weekend, however, you’re in luck. Jerry Babbitt reports that Dewayne will be performing a benefit this evening at the Mount Ida Senior Center at 6 pm. There is a suggested donation at the door of $5 supporting a great cause.  Come out and enjoy the music INDOORS!

Hope to see you next weekend for Mount Ida’s Good Ol’ Gospel show featuring Level Ground on Friday, and Mike Mayberry and the Slowhands are featured on the Front Porch Stage Saturday. Both are performing for the first time on the ‘Stage. See our Calendar of Events for more details.

Dewayne Hodges Rained Out – May 9, 2015

It has been a very wet spring in Montgomery County, and, unfortunately, Mother Nature selected May 9 to bring another dousing, disappointing us at not being able to enjoy the music of Dewayne Hodges.  However, Dewayne is scheduled for another appearance September 16, 2015, so we hope you will all be able to join us then.

Come join us September 16, 2015, when Dewayne Hodges will again visit the Front Porch Stage.

Come join us September 16, 2015, when Dewayne Hodges will again visit the Front Porch Stage.

The Prairie Grove Band – Season Opener – May 2, 2015

What a great night we had for opening the season!

A large crowd attended our first show, and the Prairie Grove Band did an excellent job as usual.  There’s a reason this Band is a favorite on our stage!

A great crowd on hand for the music of The Prairie Grove Band

A great crowd on hand for the music of The Prairie Grove Band
(Click on this image to view more photos from May 2, 2015)

During the spring, the Board and Officers of The Montgomery County Front Porch Stage, Inc., found a way to upgrade the sound gear, including the addition of a new mixing board and burying a new “snake” attaching the equipment on stage with the sound booth, and it really made a difference!

And, the weather this evening just could not have been better. Thank you all for coming out and enjoying the music.

The Frontporch Stage is a wonderful addition to all the good things happening in Montgomery County.

A Little Front Porch Stage History

Front Porch Stage Technical Director Jerry Babbitt has gone through some of the archives, guest books, and so forth, and has come up with the following.  Thanks, Jerry!

A little history about our Front Porch Stage

We have been around for 13 years and have had 330 shows, all free to more than 35,000 visitors in those 13 years!

There are some visitors that stand out, like the fellow who showed up from Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is as far west as it is east; that fellow owns the distance record. It so happens that his “mom” grew up here and still lives on Liberty Road. He really had a good time while he was here.

We have had visitors from 49 of the 50 states, North Dakota being the missing state.

Most of the international visitors were here for crystal digging, but a few were just tourists checking out the United States. We’ve had folks here from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, from France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and, yes, even Russia. We’ve had folks from Spain and Italy and Israel and South Africa. We’ve had folks visiting from China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. We’ve had had folks from Canada, Mexico, Costa Rico, and Panama. We’ve had folks from Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Chili, Bolivia and Columbia. We don’t know about more, because a lot of visitors just didn’t sign our book.

Not too shabby for a little country town stage …

As we embark on our 14th season, we hope to have many of our visitors return to Hang Around With Us … Y’all Come, and bring your chairs!

(For more about the history of the Front Porch Stage, visit Our History page.)