By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Other | Issue: February 2011
The New Christy Minstrels after doing a show in Missoula, Montana (L to R): Randy Sparks, founder, Pete Henderson, Eddie Boggs, Dave Deutschendorf, Dolan Ellis, Becky Jo Benson, Jennifer Lind and Greg O\'Haver, with Vecca the show dog.
The New Christy Minstrels®, under the direction of Randy Sparks, will be performing a benefit concert at the Robson Performing Arts Center in Claremore on Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. Remember them, from back in the 60s? Their big hits included “Today,” “Denver,” “Green Green” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Joe Van Hook, the group’s merchandising manager, recently spent seven weeks on the road with the New Christy Minstrels and had the time of his life. “They are doing 33 shows in 28 different cities across the country, from Washington to Maine, from California to North Carolina. I helped with the driving, loading, unloading, sound check, and product marketing. Yes, you can call me a ‘roadie,’” he laughs. “It was the most fun I've ever had in my life. They are such outstanding performers and nice people.”
Tickets go on sale Tuesday, February 1. This is a benefit performance by the group, with proceeds going to their non-profit organization, The New Christy Minstrels Foundation, whose long-term mandate is providing their music free of charge to schools. Just like on PBS, this concert is their 'pledge gift' for your generous contribution to the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable institution. Your donation is tax-deductible.
“I promise if you come to this concert, you won't be disappointed!” says Joe. “It's not your usual show where you sit and listen to a bunch of songs back to back for two or three hours. They do most of their big hits, but also every individual does a solo, and there's a lot of humorous dialogue and bantering. Every show we've done so far has earned standing ovations.”
The New Christy Minstrels are currently celebrating their fiftieth year as a group. “Three of the original members retired in 2010, but the group is still going strong, and it's even better than ever,” says Joe. “The replacements aren't new to the business; rather, they're ‘polished’ musicians.”
Greg O'Haver, primo guitarist, first auditioned for Randy in 1968 and adds a measure of color and harmony to the group. “He was really good back then, and even better now,” adds Joe.
Dave Deutschendorf, John Denver's uncle, brings a beautiful bass voice to the group sound, an important ingredient that was missing in the past. Dave is working on some new onstage “moves” that will leave you wanting more.
Pete Henderson, half of the famous comedy team of Skiles and Henderson, could put on a great show all by himself. “He's the bass player – real bass, not a bass guitar, he plays the piano, and when he sings his solo, there will be tears of joy in the audience,” says Joe.
When the youngest member, Jennifer Lind, sings “Fair and Tender Ladies” or “Cowboy State of Mind,” she just might have you convinced she’s the star of the show. Jennifer was recently voted the Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.
Dolan Ellis, one of the original members and the Official Balladeer of the State of Arizona, will have you bouncing in your seat and singing along. “What a performer, and what a super nice guy!” says Joe. “He hasn't stopped singing since 1961, and it shows; his voice is as good as ever.”
The lovely and talented Becky Jo Benson does everything – she sings like an angel, plays many different instruments, manages the shows and finances, and engineers the marketing and accommodations.
Eddie Boggs, a relatively new member (since 1998) is a superb singer and guitar, banjo, harmonica and mandolin player.
Randy Sparks, founder, director and principal songwriter, runs the program with candor and humor.
After the concert, the New Christy Minstrels will be signing autographs in the lobby. If you have an old LP album cover, bring it along for them to autograph. You can also buy one of their new CDs, a collection of their hits and proudest musical moments, and have them sign it.
For photos and more information about the New Christy Minstrels, visit www.thenew christyminstrels.com or www.new christyminstrelsfoundation.org.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.