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Byron Jones tribute: ‘I Gotta Travel On’

Leland Jones, center, joins Green Side Up in singing “If You Treated Me The Way I Treated You.” The group first sang at the Farris at one of Byron Jones’ Saturday night shows in 1969. (Photo by Liz Johnson/Richmond News)

By Liz Johnson, Staff Writer

Imagine having a large family of 11 children and that the family is music-filled. Then imagine that two of the sons start performing while teenagers together and separate, and they both soar to successful heights, beloved by fans and fellow performers.

Imagine all this and you have brothers Byron and Leland Jones.

Sadly, Byron is no longer with us, but he was so well loved that his tribute show at the Farris Theatre last Sunday was packed with fans, family members and fellow entertainers.

Just as it was 40-plus years ago when Byron owned the Farris and produced two packed shows every Saturday night, the line of people to get into the theater before the doors opened at 2 p.m. went around the block. The crowd ranged from the very young to very old – everyone appearing to be excited for an afternoon of just one more “Farris Opry.”

Once known as the “Country Music Headquarters for Northwest Missouri,” the Farris  stage served up one great act after another for more than three hours.

Leland and his Country Pickin’ Opry opened the show proving that his voice is as strong today as it was in 1955 when he first performed onstage. His musicians, each one coming forward to be featured as the main draw, are second to none.

Fonda Bennett, of Richmond, was onstage to lend her powerful voice early on, telling the audience that she first sang with Byron and Leland when she was just 9 years old.

Entertainers who had played with Byron as far back as the early 1960s returned to Richmond to pay tribute to the man they heralded as a great musician and man.

“Byron was always Byron – whether onstage, back stage or home,” said Bill Attleberry, more commonly known as “Goofer,” a musician and comedian from the Lee Mace Ozark Opry.

“These folks are family people – and Leland and Byron, I just appreciate them so much,” Attleberry added.

Attleberry said he worked with Byron for about 20 years at some of Byron’s venues in Kansas City.

“I always thought that Byron and Leland both always did a lot for country music,” he said. “You know, some folks can’t afford to go to Nashville or Branson. And they always put on a pretty good Saturday night show. And they always had talent as good as any you’d see in Branson or Nashville.”

The complete story is in the Friday, October 13, 2017 Richmond News.

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