The Liberty Opry - July 30, 2011
by Daryl Moss

Opry attendees (in front of Park Theater, l to r): Bob, Marian, Daryl, Gladys, Brenda, DeAnn, Ruth, Patsy, Joyce, Estella, Jewel, & Daren.

Thirteen TIRET members and guests went on the bus to the Liberty Opry for a unique night of "Western Swing and 'Back Home' Country Western". Y'all shoulda been there!!

Before the show we enjoyed an early dinner at Ann's Seafood.

Before the show we ate an early dinner at Ann's Seafood, right on Main Street. The fried shrimp and catfish and chicken fried steak were truly good. Service was fast…and we were ready for THE SHOW at the Park Theater a couple of blocks away. As we learned, tonight's show was a complete sell-out, 400 seats, packed house. Balcony occupied, too. It was being recorded live to DVD, for sale onsite or by mail.

A playbill that listed the complete band (many were vocalist as well) and featured performers was passed out. Believe it or not, it listed 36 songs/instrumentals plus two comedy routines.

Jay Cantu served as a multi-purpose host for the evening, besides doing 5 vocals. He started the evening with a prayer - somewhat different! Then he introduced the band members, each doing a spotlight "solo with accompanying backup. Jerry Locke served as M.C. for the evening, introducing the featured singer(s) throughout the evening.

Filled up at Ann's - smilin' ready for the SHOW!.

This particular evening held some sad significance because 'Little Red' Hayes, their principal fiddler for 16 years, was stepping down due to age and driving distance, last performance. He and associate fiddler, Steve Bing, were featured together for 7 instrumentals, with band backup. These guys know how to fiddle!

As part of the tribute to "Little Red" Hayes, who started performing on stage (vinyl records with notable greats like Hank Thompson, Ray Price, Jim Reeves) as a fiddler as a teenager, a 13-year-old fiddler, Dalton Stegent, played 3 featured songs. It appeared to be his first time on stage, but he did a great job.

The Cox family was well represented (on stage and in the audience), i.e., brothers Jerry, Kerry and Jim (lead guitarist), each did vocals. In particular, with Jerry on banjo and Jim on guitar, they performed a brilliant instrumental rendition of Dueling Banjos that appealed to everyone.

Liberty Opry band: (viewable, l to r)
Calvin Gainey, keyboard - Andy Lingenfelter, trumpet - Ray Sowell, rhythm guitar - Mike Loftin, sax-flute-clarinet - Aaron Marshall, steel guitar - "Little Red" Hayes, fiddle (center) - Steve Bing, 2nd fiddle - {Jerry Locke, MC, w/ mic} - Jim Cox, lead guitar
(present, but hidden) Rick Burton, drums - John Ray Baxter, bass guitar.

Linsey Patrenella, a young girl form Rosenberg, sang 3 vocals. Up and coming. Other notables were Calvin Galney on keyboard (piano), who can certainly play and sing with the best. Regular vocalists John Ray Baxter and Karla Burris each did well.

The comedy routines were superb. The delivery and jokes from Larry "Booger Lee" Etheridge [dressed in an outrageous 'Hicksville' clothing/costume] were funny, hilarious, timely, pathetic, you name it. Jerry served as the straight guy, and they worked together pretty well. Example: "It's so hot in Texas….a worm stuck his head out of the ground and said, 'Take me fishing.'" {You had to be there…}

During their second routine where the attending groups were recognized, we 'TI Retiree Club' members hooped and hollered, so we sounded like 30, not 13. Jewel Welch's July 30th birthday was mentioned from the podium by Jerry, and she stood. Lots of birthdays, anniversaries, even veterans, were recognized.

All the vocalists/instrumentalists came on stage to close the evening with "Keep On Praying". Afterwards, some singers went to the marquee area to circulate among the departing seniors, giving autographs along with invitations to return soon.

Prize winners: during the opry intermission (raffle time), Brenda Moss won a coffee mug. On the bus home, another raffle occurred where Daryl Moss won a floor fan; Bob Gruber a large, expandable, insu-lated cooler; Marian Gruber a hot/cold insulated lunch bag & house shoes. Thanks to Patsy Seay!

Members and guest in attendance: Daryl & Brenda Moss, Ralph & Estella Garcia, Bob & Marian Gruber, Daren & Jewel Welch, Patsy Seay & guest Ruth Hiatt, Gladys Price, DeAnn Thomas, Joyce Slanina.

Make sure to join us for the next Opry trip….or any trip for that matter !!