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By June Marquez
Special to The PREVIEW
It is such a joy to see the expressions in the audience as “A Tribute to Patsy Cline” takes them back in time.
When I produced this show over two years ago, I was not totally aware of the reactions I would get from a responsive crowd. The show, with an audience of over 100, proved to touch the hearts of the people, as they applauded before the singing even began. Some were reminded of a past place and time as they sang along and shed a few tears. Once again, I am reminded, music makes an impact.
The Americana Project, an elective class offered at Pagosa Springs High School falls in line, with this impact. Its mission: To explore creativity through music and self-expression.
This class is headed up by the talented Bob Hemenger — teacher, mentor and professional saxophone performer — who is having his fourth year of success with this program. The class has students actively performing, writing and recording original music. They are also studying the connection between Americana Roots music, history and culture.
When I attended the Americana Project end-of-school program last spring, I was amazed to see eight students perform their originals.
Saturday’s event will feature some of these students performing in the Commons Area at the high school during intermission, and three former students will be backing up Patsy on stage.
When I visited the class, I was pleased to see the enthusiasm of these students. I reminded them that, when we keep the arts alive in our schools, it will bring young families to our community and, with that, comes prosperity.
I then asked if any had art work they would like to display. One young lady raised her hand and said she had a couple of pieces. Then, a young man raised his hand and said maybe he could make a portrait of Patsy Cline. In return, the young lady said she could do a portrait also. I responded with an encouraging, “Do it!” I am so excited to add another special element to the show.
As I tell people about the tribute, I cannot leave out the dedication and talent of my tribute band. I may be the singer, but I could not do this without four very talented men.
Ted Hockenbury, of Bayfield, plays steel-guitar and I would say he is the star of the show. In 1977 and 1978, Ted’s band, “Dusty Chaps,” toured with Charlie Daniels as an opening act. The list of famous artists Ted has worked with is too long to print here, but includes Merle Haggard, Hank Thomas, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty and Dan Fogelberg. In the early ’90s, sponsored by Budweiser, Ted toured with his band Lickety Split as the opening act for Three Dog Night and Foreigner. They toured the U.S and Canada. And, though he holds a full-time job in the Bayfield School District, you can still find him performing with his two professional bands, Wild Country and Jelly Bellies.
Charlie Harmer, of Oxford, Colo., plays lead guitar and is the guitarist in Ted’s rock band Jelly Bellies. He brings 30 years experience to the stage.
Dan Fitzpatrick, from Pagosa Springs, plays stand-up bass and has been performing Jazz with John Graves and Friends for several years.
Marcus Rivas, a native of Pagosa Springs, plays drums and has been performing with his family’s band, Variety Express, for several years.
I am so grateful for these gentlemen and I am very proud to be in their company.
One more addition to the show will be some local dancers from our Vista Clubhouse dance class, which meets on Tuesdays.
Come enjoy an afternoon of fun and fellowship this Saturday, early enough to get home before dark. Intermission refreshments of coffee, cookies and cider will be served by Two Chicks and a Hippie.
Tickets are available at LouJean’s Salon; 301 N. Pagosa Blvd., in the Greenbriar Plaza; and Two Chicks and a Hippie, 117 Trails. Adult tickets are $20, students are $10, children under 10 are admitted free.