Wednesday, January 07, 2009

That's Opry with a capital O

If I got right up into your face and bellowed the words, "rodeo" and "opry" at you, what images would instantly pop into your most cultured and esteemed mind?

Yowza, same as me.

So it was with some skepticism and disinclination that I accepted my wife's invitation to join her and two fellow work mates for an evening fundraiser at the Oklahoma Centennial Rodeo Opry last week.

We dragged along the two kidkinz and my in-laws for good measure. Misery loves company, right?

The event was a fundraiser for one of the Opry Heritage Foundation's many worthwhile philanthropy's that are focused on developing young, talented artists and musicians. Everyone there who didn't pay for a seat or table was volunteering their time and efforts, including a most excellent band and surprisingly talented group of performers.

Surprising for me at least. Some of these folk are apparently staples of the thriving music scene here in the panhandle state. And it shows.

When I heard the theme of the musical selection for the night was "70's" I racked my brain to recall even one country/western hit from that era that I could relate to.-- Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy...was that in the 70's?
-- How about Devil went down to Georgia...that was considered C/W and opry material, right?
-- Please, no, not that Elvira song...
But, since the ticket included a prime rib and fried chicken fricassee courtesy of the Stockyard City good-eats staple, the Cattleman's Steakhouse, my full belly and the fairly open minded iPod in my noggin was up for just about anything.

My wife somehow managed to scurry up some primo seats at one of the corporate donation tables up front, and were lovingly greeted by platters of homemade sweets, treats and baked-goods aplenty. Chocolate dipped strawberries were downed by the dozen by my two girls, while the rest of the table got down and dirty with the brownies, divinity cake, cookie crisps, dried fruit and nuts galore.

Resembling squirrels stocking up on acorns for the winter with our cheeks filled with goodies, the lights dimmed dramatically and the band fired up their instruments of wonder.

Hold on now. It wasn't what you think. At least, it wasn't what I thought. And come to think of it, it was so far and away what I think I thought, I actually thought to myself what I fool I was for thinking of not coming.

First tune up, a hopping version of Pick up the Pieces (The Average White Band) complete with visiting horn section and note perfect sax solo.

I don't recall in what order the rest of the songs were played, but one after another, the tunes of my AM/FM youth came flooding back along with multiple rolled eyeballs from my eldest daughter as I sang along with the vocals. Who knew my memory was still so crisp as the lyrics of each and every tune flowed forth directly from long forgotten synapses and often misfiring neurons.25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago
Delilah - Tom Jones
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
Soul Man - Blues Brothers
Got to be real - Cheryl Lynn
Proud Mary - Ike and Tina Turner
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Fire and Rain - James Taylor
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers
I want you back - Jackson 5
Takin' it Easy - Eagles
Okay, not all of the songs are truly "70's hits, and I didn't really sing "I Will Survive," but I did bounce my head about a bit.

There were several other songs that were played and enjoyed, but now sadly lost to my foggy memory of the fun and jazzy evening

These Opry folk put on a great show, for a great cause, and if they can belt out these golden oldies with passion and fervor enough to get me out of the house and into a seat in the audience, then perhaps I'll be able to swing a night or two of their regularly scheduled more "Opry-like" entertainment.

Good vittles, great live music, C was called up stage to draw a raffle winner (not us, thank goodness, otherwise folks would be yelling FIX), PK stayed awake, my wife looked lovely and I got to spend some time talking vintage Cadillac with a genuine car fanatic (has over 28 in his collection). All in all not a bad gig.

Oh no not I, I will survive, hey, hey!

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