When asked to be a special guest during western week at Hands on Arts Camp this summer, my answer was, “Yes.”
My friend, Lisa Brown, and Ms. Tessie Garcia were on their third week of art classes held at the high school. Lisa knew I had produced a Patsy Cline show and wanted me to educate the children on the life of this Western legend.
Of course, I showed up dressed as Patsy, just as I do for my show. Staying in character, I shared with them the year and place I was born. I sang “Walking After Midnight“ and told them it was the first song I sang on national television, winning first place on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in New York City. I shared with them some of the hardships I had just being a woman in the music industry.
Coming out of character, I told them my name was June Marquez and these tentative students ranging from first to fifth grade had some questions.
“How did you start singing?”
Well, I said, it started when I was about your age. I was in kindergarten and had a sleepover at my cousin’s house. She had an electronic piano and was taking lessons. I was so intrigued with the keyboard, I begged my mom to get me one for Christmas. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was asking for, but as I look back, I know my mom made a great sacrifice to buy me something I so wanted. I took lessons for a short time, for it was something we really couldn’t afford, having a family of six girls. In the mid ’70s, we owned a 3.2 bar in Los Arboles, Colo., and every time I learned a new song on my little piano, my mom would have me play and sing for our patrons. Then they would give me money. So, that’s how it all began.
I went on to tell the class I’ve been singing here in Pagosa Springs for over 10 years with my friend and mentor John Graves. Some of the children knew who he was. I told them he played piano and Betty White gave him his first job in Hollywood. I told them it was at a play produced by John Graves in 2006, where I was inspired to produce “A Tribute to Patsy Cline.” John asked me to sing a country style song he had written in 1960. There were seven songs he had written and he asked seven local artists to be in his one-act play titled, “ The Empty Bench.” It was in the second part of the production, where each of us performed a sort of variety show. This is when I dressed up as Patsy Cline and sang the song “Crazy,” written by Willie Nelson. The crowd loved it and as they departed the venue a lady came to me and exclaimed, “We love you, Patsy!” She went on to tell me that when I sang “Wandering” she turned to her husband and said, “She sounds like Patsy Cline.” She encouraged me as she spoke. ”You should do a whole show.” At that moment, I knew I was touching people’s hearts.
The show was finally produced last October to benefit the Fred Harman Museum, yielding over $1,000 in donations. The new year approached and another need was brought to our attention. Our steel-guitar player, Ted Hockenbury, needed some help with medical bills accumulating during his wife’s bout with cancer. Joe Poynter, our drummer, did much of the groundwork to promote the show. Dan Fitspatrick, our stand-up bass player, Charlie Harmer, our lead guitar player and I donated our time and talents. The show was produced at the Pine Valley Foursquare Gospel Church in Bayfield with over 75 people attending, bringing in donations of over $1,200.
My intention is to continue doing the show to serve community needs.
When is the next show?
The answer is, Monday, Aug. 13. It will take place at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts at 2313 Eagle Drive. LouJean Espinosa, owner of Two Chicks and a Hippie, will help prepare and serve a wonderful home-cooked meal of meatballs, cheddar mashed potatoes, green beans and homemadebiscuits with strawberry butter. Dinner/show (5:30 p.m.) tickets are $25. Show only tickets (7 p.m.) are $15. For children under 10 years of age, dinner is $5, the show is free. Tickets are available online at pagosacenter.org, at LouJean’s Salon ( 301 N. Pagosa Blvd. B14,) A Time for You Hair (117 Navajo Trail) and Studio 160 on Eagle Drive on Put Hill. Don’t forget your dancing shoes and partner; the show will take place in the foyer with plenty of room to kick up your heels.
Proceeds from “A Tribute to Patsy Cline” will benefit summer art programs for local youth.
One special element to this upcoming show will be the performance of a few graduating seniors of PSHS. Colin Oliver will be attending George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., pursuing his passion in film and photography. Max Miller and Eli Velasquez will be attending the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. They are pursuing their passion in music and theater. These young men will be doing the back-up singing and are sure to complete the real sound of Patsy Cline. Do not miss their last performance as we bid them a farewell and thank them for all they have done for our community.