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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Top entertainers perform at Kings Prairie concert

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paula Cravens Williamson, "America's Yodeling Sweetheart," brought her show from the God and Country Theatre in Branson to the Kings Prairie benefit concert to help raise funds to maintain the historic school as a community center. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The 11th annual Kings Prairie benefit concert last Saturday brought top performers to the Monett area for nearly three hours of music in the scenic setting.

Around 400 people were on hand to hear bluegrass, classic country and Western music. Donations and concession sales raised more than $1,000 to help build new bathrooms on the grounds of the Kings Prairie Community Center and maintain the facilities.

Opening the music was the area bluegrass band Last Resort. The six-man ensemble opened with vigorous fiddle playing by Jon Harden on the traditional "Sally Goodin." The band played traditional numbers like "Georgia Piney Woods" and the dobro showpiece "Lorena," mixed with traditional sounding selections like Nickel Creek's "I Am A Lighthouse." Vocal numbers showcased close harmonies between bass player Gary Harrall, mandolin player Chris Johnson and lead guitarist David Johnson.

The band dabbled in songs of hard living and hard loving with "I Don't Want Her, You Can Have Her" and "Highway 40 Blues." The upbeat bluegrass treatment of the Beatles song "I've Just Seen A Face" and a relaxed treatment to "The Best That I Had Goin' Is Gone" showcased picking skills.

Al Brumley Jr., master of ceremonies for the concert, joined the band for two songs by his father, Albert E. Brumley. Band members harmonized with Brumley on "Amazing Grace The Sweetest Song I Know" and "Jesus Hold My Hand."

The big surprise of the night came with Paula Cravens Williamson taking the stage. Billed as "America's Yodeling Sweetheart," Williamson proved herself to be headline material. Her yodel was precise and robust, as good as any star in Western music royalty.

Williamson put her yodeling pipes to work at the outset of "Out on Those West Texas Plains." A recording of herself for accompaniment gave Williamson a yodeling partner on "Let My Teach You How To Yodel." Williamson accompanied herself on guitar for most numbers.

One of Williamson's models was Patsy Montana, "the queen of the yodelers." Williamson sang Montana's biggest hits, "Shine On, Ozark Mountain Moonlight" and "I Want To Be A Cowboy's Dream Girl" with a breezy, winning style.

Williamson closed with Patsy Montana's "I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart." She sang the yodeling section three times with virtuoso variations that earned her hearty applause from the crowd.

Ermal Williamson had been booked for his John Wayne presentation but took the weekend to campaign for politicians in Colorado. In his absence, Paula's set ran for 45 minutes.

Taking the stage at 8 p.m. was Lisa Layne and her four-member band. With a big voice, Layne offered a commanding presence, opening with Ray Price's "Invitation to the Blues" and Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou." Layne also sang Leona Williams' song, "Yes M'am," the up-tempo "My Heart Tells Me Stay, But My Pride Tells Me Go," and a slow soulful treatment of Buck Owens' "Together Again."

Having established herself, Layne opened her specialty, the Patsy Cline songbook. Layne explained how she became one of three singers sanctioned by the Patsy Cline Foundation to represent the country legend. When she launched into "Walkin' After Midnight," Layne's natural connection and smooth voicings became even more evident.

Layne's band, too, caressed the Cline songs with the familiarity of an old couple. Offering a finetuned touch were Lou Colbe on bass, Dwayne Carger on drums. Boo Miller on Steel guitar and Dewayne Bowman on guitar.

Layne went on with Cline's hits "I Fall To Pieces" and "Crazy." She had the audience clapping along on both the "Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?"

Brumley returned to close the show. Layne's band accompanied him on Albert E. Brumley's two biggest hits, "Turn The Radio On" and "I'll Fly Away." Layne and the Last Resort band members joined in on the finale.

The performers stayed to sign autographs and sell recordings. Brumley told the crowd to plan on the second Saturday in August for next year's concert.

Supporting the undertaking were: Malcolm Mosby and his sound crew; Burton and Sons for the use of golf carts to bring the audience in from the parking area; Monett Rural Fire Association for chauffeuring with the golf carts; Weiser Tent for donating a trailer for the stage; Wickman Gardens for donations; Tyson Foods for ice; Buchanan Funeral Home for chairs; Wolf Park for port-a-potties; volunteers who made pies for sale; concert support from Al and Robannell Brumley; and The Monett Times for publicity. Operations at the Kings Prairie Community Center have been further helped by a donation that enabled a well to be dug since last year. Sutherland's in Aurora also provided a discount on an air conditioning unit, and Kenny Vaught helped with special projects. \

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