Ultimate Oldies Rocks Rector
From the downbeat for the Fifth Dimension’s Age of Aquarius with the entire cast on stage to the final Shout!, the Ultimate Oldies presented a show Friday night, Sept. 1, with new selections and old favorites to open the Labor Day celebration and picnic in Rector. Producer Joe Wessell’s brainstorm from its infancy to the show that it is today has brought 10 years of enjoyment and excitement to northeast Arkansas. He says, “This is our sixth performance at Rector’s Labor Day. We’ll keep going as long as we can. These folks have day jobs, too!” The performers and the band present three standard programs per season at the Collins Theatre in Paragould with a feature such as Labor Day in Rector as a bonus, and this show was a bonus, indeed.
Craig Morris and wife Donna Rhodes along with daughter Savannah Morris provided back-up on all the numbers unless they were performing themselves. This talented family is the core of the musical cast. Son Sam Morris was unable to be present for the sold-out performance but Savannah presented their customary duet, River Deep, Mountain High, as a solo.
An added feature celebrated the hits of the late Glen Campbell, the Delight, Arkansas, boy who sang about being a lineman for the county, Wichita Lineman, and about receiving cards and letters from people he didn’t even know, The Rhinestone Cowboy. Richie Williams, who served as MC, sang Rhinestone Cowboy and also brought to life Papa Loves Mambo which had been a 1958 hit by Perry Como.
Ryan Fisher’s performance of Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, always a favorite, and Suzy Stacey’s multiple numbers including Be My Baby and Tell Him had the crowd singing along. A popular new spot featured musical director and lead guitarist Mark Owen along with Lori Dial, Chandler Gill, Richie Williams, and Shannon Freeman harmonizing on Seven Bridges Road made popular by the band, Eagles.
Wowing the audience late in the program was Lori Dial costumed as a 1970s, big-haired, medallion-wearing, wanna-be, Hollywood movie star performing Vehicle. With the first notes from the brass ensemble wearing dark glasses, everyone remembered this one-hit-wonder by The Ides of March. The trumpets and saxophone were played by Richie Williams and three of his former students who are now band directors or in the process of earning that degree: Josh Mobley, Brandan Bakkala and C. J. Slatton.
Musical highlights included a secret appearance by Elvis (The Real Thing) Presley who received the evening’s ovation after the crowd favorite American Trilogy. Elvis remarked that the people of Memphis would be upset to learn that all they got to see at the recent extravaganza with the Memphis Symphony was pictures of him on a big screen. In Rector, Elvis appeared as himself. Shannon Freeman said so.
The evening was a complete success when Joey Pruett, Rector’s Musical Mayor, returned to the bass guitar for a few sets after eight months of surgery and rehab on his right elbow with doctors wondering whether he’d ever be able to pick up a guitar again. With the band, including Joey’s fellow bass guitarist Jay Shepherd, Teddy Hoke on drums, and Rector’s favorite keyboard artist Ken Wadley making his instrument perform like a full orchestra, the show raised the roof in quality and dimension.
The Ultimate Oldies Show’s performance at the Rector Community Center was made possible through ticket sales and sponsors Rector Downtown Drug and Piggott Pharmacy, Dr. Bryan Blackshare DDS, Glen Sain Auto Sales, and Piggott State Bank with branches in Piggott and Rector.