Well, I finally did it!
After years of promising Daryel Armour I was coming to the Oldfield Opry some Saturday night, we jumped in the ol’ Davis Dodge last Saturday night and made the trek across T Highway (or T Trail as my grandparents used to call it) for the regular Saturday night show.
I can now testify, it is a fabulous way to spend a Saturday night.
There are no frills, no fancy suits with sequins, no colored spotlights and no mirrored disco balls (but watch out for the cat that falls out of the rafters!). But if you like good, ol’ fashioned, down home country pickin’ and grinnin’, it’s a show you need to see.
The musicians are all amateurs; many of them drive in from another job just in time to take their place on stage and open up the 7 o’clock program. There’s no rehearsing, and if there’s an “itinerary”, somebody has to explain what that means (right, Denise?). Who shows up on a given Saturday night depends on each musician’s schedule.
There’s a solid group of regulars like bass player Eddie Goins who is also the program emcee, Kerre Thompson and Denise St. Clair who perform solos and provide background harmony, Dwight Armour on lead guitar and Glen Dale Robertson on banjo, and David Thompson and Steve Beyers on rhythm guitar and vocals. Heath Roberts, who plays mandolin and does an occasional vocal, performs a couple of nights a month and we were fortunate to be there on a night when it was in his schedule.
For those who know Heath, you know to never turn your back on him, and we saw that the band has already figured that out.
I’ve often commented that for every athlete who signs a professional contract, there are three others who are just as good who for whatever reason did not get the opportunity to go professional. Same for musicians. There are many talented singers and musicians who are as good – in some instances much better – than those in Nashville, Branson or on Broadway – who didn’t get “discovered” by the right person or just never had the desire to put it all on the line and take up that kind of lifestyle. In some cases, they are probably happier than the ones who did “make it big.”
Folks around Ava, Wasola, Almartha and Thornfield – and Oldfield – know Glen Dale Robertson could play banjo for any professional group in the country. The one that absolutely blew me away Saturday night was Dwight Armour on lead guitar. I’ve listened to some of the best and even have an old Harmony under the bed that I used to plunk on just enough to recognize talent when I see or hear it. I knew Dwight could play, but I never realized just how good he was until I sat in a third row seat and watched him on Saturday night.
His performances of “Yakety Axe” and “Under the Double Eagle” were fabulous, but I have never heard such a rendition of “The Orange Blossom Special” without a fiddle or “Dueling Banjos” with one banjo (and a guitar).
When you decide to go to the Oldfield Opry, don’t make the mistake we did and eat before you go. They have family-size hamburgers and homemade pies, and I kid you not, the meals are served on a turkey platter. You take it to your seat and eat, and Perry Robertson will come by and pick up your platter when you get done. And, by the way, you can afford to eat their meal because there is no admission charge for the show (but donations are welcomed).
Background information tells us the Oldfield Opry started back in the 1970s in an old store building in Oldfield. When the weekly get-together outgrew that building, the current metal building was constructed, and paid for within the year, by donations.
Although not fancy, the building is air-conditioned and has around 200 comfortable, upholstered theater-style seats that make for a pleasant 2 1/2 hour show.
Well, I finally did it!