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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kings Prairie concert brings music to country roots

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Kings Prairie concert offered a scenic setting for outdoor music performed in the country amidst the singing cicadas, surrounded by an audience on lawn chairs. As the sun set, the stage blazed for the cast of Kelly's Kountry Junction in their first appearance at the benefit concert. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
The 12th annual Kings Prairie benefit concert on Saturday assembled a wide range of musical and performance styles into a three-hour show before a crowd of around 300 people at the historic Kings Prairie Community Center.

The event, mounted as a fundraiser to expand the resources on the grounds of the old community school, raised around $1,500 through donations and the sale of food.

Electric guitar virtuoso Dwayne Friend started the evening as a solo performer. Friend described how he developed the picking technique used by Chet Atkins, playing a rhythm line on the top of his guitar strings with his thumbs and picking the melody with his other fingers below.

Friend played mostly gospel music for his 40-minute set, including "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." Showing his storytelling skills, Friends offered a walking blues number, "The Dawson Philistine War," about a school reunion where children took on the red wasps nesting in the old school house and fought them to a standstill.

The after-church song, "Let's Eat," written by Friend and performed at two previous Kings Prairie concerts by Speedy Haworth, got a fresh presentation, along with another Friend original, "The Little Boy from the Carpenter Shop," recently recorded by the Bluegrass Cardinals.

Friend's technique was clean and unhurried, a testimony to his nearly 50 years as a performing musician. Between songs he offered tales from his preaching experience.

Audra Shumaker, a 15-year-old Cassville High School student from Golden, offered a break in styles between sets. She sang Allison Kraus' "A Living Thread" and Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" in a clear voice that drew applause from the crowd.

Bluegrass band Brightwater Junction offered an hour-long set of high energy picking and strumming. Led by Lyn Coones on the banjo with lead vocals, the band easily demonstrated why they have been invited to play at festivals across the Midwest.

On songs like Roy Acuff's "That's The Man I'm Looking For" and "Goodbye to the Blues," Coones offered a clear vocal line. Additional vocal harmonies were supplied by mandolin player Eric Coones and bass player Tonya Coones on the refrain.

Guitarist Jason Jordon provided lead vocals on songs like "the Cabin We Call Home," and fiddle player Andrew Morton also took a turn on lead vocals on "Hello Trouble."

The precision of playing and tight harmonies looked effortless as the band wound up and down through a deep song list. "See God's Ark" and ballads like "I'll Take A Chance On Lovin' You" were separated by vintage jokes. The woman who married a banker, a clown, a preacher and an undertaker was explained as marrying "one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go."

The band closed on a virtuoso note, tearing through two classics by bluegrass master Bill Monroe, "Uncle Pen" and "Big Mon."

The evening built up to a performance by 10 members of the Kelly's Kountry Junction show from Ozarks Public Television. Creator Kelly Lee James led the group in classic country songs such as "Oklahoma Skies," "Sugar Moon," "Amarillo By Morning" and "Her Heart Belongs To Texas."

The performance was a mixture of straight playing, comedy skits by Frank Howell as "Cousin Dud," cavorting into the crowd, and strong singing. The best singing combined the three ladies on the stage, Amy Carver, Sharon Mitchell and producer Kathy Butler, whose harmonies elevated each refrain they sang. Carver took the lead on "I've Never Been This Homesick Before," putting in the best performance of the night backed by the other women.

The show ended with Al Brumley, Jr., coming to the stage to lead the troupe in singing his father's classic gospel song, "I'll Fly Away." Brumley served as master of ceremonies for the evening but only sang on the final number. Despite recent health issues, Brumley's voice was strong, and the rousing number provided the traditional send-off to close the concert.

Credit was extended to a number of contributors whose efforts helped make the benefit concert possible. These included: Al and Robannell Brumley, Malcolm Moseby and his sound crew; the Monett Rural Fire Association for assistance with parking; Weiser Tent for providing the trailer for the stage; Wickman Gardens for the stage decorations; Tyson Foods for ice; The Monett Times; Buchanan Funeral Home for chairs; volunteers working during the concert; and those who donated pies for sale.

Additional thanks were extended for donations that helped pay for the new well on the grounds and for the fencing.

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