Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Plentiful pickings

Musical group’s state covention to sway Community Center

April 26, 2007

Last Friday's monthly gathering of the De Soto Chapter of the Kansas Old-Time Pickers, Fiddlers and Singers was an appetizer for this weekend's full meal, said Terry Runyan, an emcee with the local chapter.

"Next week's the state convention," the Shawnee resident said as members of the chapter took turns performing for the about 50 people in attendance. "We have 17 chapters here from across the state."

De Soto chapter President Richard Blanton, Olathe, said the convention is returning to De Soto after the city requested it as part of the city's sesquicentennial celebration. He took the request to the state board, which readily agreed.

Two things worked in De Soto's favor, Blanton said. The good impression De Soto made when the 2004 state convention was at De Soto and the De Soto Community Center, which is the chapter's home.

"I'm biased, but I think our facility is the best in the state," he said. "The sound here is great.

"And, once again, it's the local support you get."

The convention will kickoff at 8:15 a.m. Friday with a brief address by De Soto Mayor David Anderson. For the next two days, the Community Center will beat to the sounds of country and western standards as individuals from the chapters compete in various categories in three different age groups.

While there are various levels of investment in the competition, all the performers take music seriously, Blanton said. Like him, most of the members aren't professionals but amateurs dedicated to the music.

"I took violin lessons as a kid at Morris Grade School in Kansas City, Kan.," he said. "I went into the Navy in 1951 during the Korean War. There was a guy on board who learned I played and insisted I go ashore in Japan and buy a violin. I've been playing country music ever since."

Even in his Navy days, that meant jamming with other musicians, Blanton said. That camaraderie, and not the competition, is the real draw of the state convention to members, he said.

Those attending can expect to hear songs written or made famous by such country greats as Patsy Cline, Vaughn Monroe, Hank Williams, Hank Snow and Kitty Wells. But Blanton said music from several generations of performers would be presented.

"This is the Old-Time Pickers, Fiddlers and Singers Blanton said. "What old-time means to me at 73 would be different than someone 40.

"There is a variety of music. It changes all the time."

The event is free, but there is a $7 charge to eat the meal catered by Morse's Market of De Soto, Blanton said.

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