Postcards: Eagleton busts out the country music, blues

By Linda Emley

History was made in Richmond Saturday night, July 28, 2012. History doesn’t have to be some big event that happened 100 years ago because it’s any moment in time that has already happened.
The great historian Carl Becker once said, “History is the memory of things said and done.” Some days are more memorable that others, but history is made every day of our lives.
So what happened July 28? People of all ages gathered together and enjoyed a night of jamming to live country music. The Thomas F. Eagleton Center was rocking and this girl actually listened to seven hours of country music and liked it.
I grew up in the days of rock ‘n’ roll and never listened to country music, but it does grow on you when you hear it live and feel the emotions that make it so popular. People of all ages were dancing in the aisles.
We heard a great version of Johnny Cash’s song, “Ring of Fire,” and many other songs that pleased the crowd. It was fun when a song started and the crowd cheered because it was one of their favorites.
As you may know, there’s a popular music jam the fourth Saturday of every month at the Eagleton Center.
On July 28, the Ray County Historical Society was the guest sponsor of the concession stand so we got to be a part of the jam session. David Blythe, our president, and his wife DaVona have attended many such musical events in Ray County, but they were on kitchen duty for this one.
They were assisted in the kitchen by fellow board member Steve Rouch and his wife Donna. Jan Jackson, also a historical board member, was our concession-stand cashier. I got to do the shopping and fill in as needed for our tour of duty. Bonnie Fields, Florence Williams, Kathy Wilson, Pat Mills, director of the Ray County Senior Center, Ray County Recorder Shirley O’Dell and Ray County Commissioner Allen Dale helped keep things rolling. Allen and board member Bruce Taylor grilled the brisket and polish sausage like they do for many Ray County events.
After this adventure, I decided I needed to learn a little more about what makes country music so popular. The County Music Hall of Fame is in Nashville, Tenn. Since 1961, there have been 115 people or groups inducted. Only 15 have been women.
Jimmy Rodgers was the first performer inducted into the hall. He’s known as the Father of Country Music, “the man who started it all.” I was pleased to see that Elvis, one of my all-time favorite singers, made the list in 1998. I was a little confused why he was there until I read what they had to say about the King.
“The consensus around Nashville in the mid-to-late 1950s was that Elvis was bad for country music, that he had in fact almost killed it; in truth, he was very good for a younger generation of country musicians, giving them potential access to broader media exposure than their predecessors had enjoyed.” Since I like Elivs and Johnny Cash, I guess I’ve always been a country fan and didn’t know it.
The next music jam is scheduled this Saturday. You won’t be disappointed if you join in and share the fun with this group of musicians. There’s no charge to attend or perform, but they do pass the hat for free-will donations that help support the Ray County Senior Center.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “ History is not history unless it is the truth.” The truth is you will be surprised how much fun you can have at the Ray County Senior Center’s music jam. Come on down and see for yourself. You can call Florence Williams at 816-776-2998 for additional details.
This Saturday at 2 p.m., the Eagleton Center will host another concert. Levee Town, a very popular Kansas City blues-rock band will perform a benefit concert for the new Ray County Women’s Resource Center (see the Richmond News article elsewhere in this issue). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Eagleton or Ray County Museum. If you have questions, call 776-7223 or contact me at the museum, 776-2305.
I’m helping promote this event because I feel there is a need in Ray County for a Women’s Resource Center. I’m working with Connie Taylor on a story about the center that she and some others are forming. Please come hear this wonderful band perform blues music unlike any that we have ever heard in Ray County.
A few days ago I was talking about this event and called it a jazz concert. I was quickly corrected by a friend who said Levee Town is a blues band, not a jazz group. I made the mistake of asking,”Is there a difference?” I was told that blues music has soul. I went to the Internet and after reading several pages, I decided it’s the way you feel when you hear a song. April is Jazz Appreciation Month, but it will be the blues when Levee Town comes to Richmond.
One guy was getting tired of trying to define the difference and he finally said, “The Jazz play basketball in Utah and the Blues play hockey in St. Louis.” That sounds good enough to me. I hope everyone comes to the hill April 20 and joins all the fun as we make a little more Ray County history.

Want to talk to Linda about country music, blues or jazz? Contact her at

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