FMCA’s winter convention promises a variety of music, dance, and laughter for folks of all ages.
Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.
— from “Georgia On My Mind”
Peaches, pecans, and peanuts may be among Georgia’s most celebrated exports, but many people may be surprised by the state’s contribution to the world of music. Georgia has been home sweet home to hundreds of well-known national acts, including R&B legends Ray Charles and Otis Redding; country stars Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, and Travis Tritt; rock ‘n’ roll standouts Little Richard, R.E.M., the Black Crowes, and the B-52’s; and gospel/pop singer Amy Grant. Add to that list jazz and swing stars Lena Horne and Johnny Mercer, and the world-famous Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and it’s obvious that Georgians have embraced all genres of music.
It should come as no surprise that the entertainment scheduled for FMCA’s 27th annual winter international convention at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry is just as varied. Motorhomers who attend the “Southern Sensation” convention March 19, 20, and 21 will enjoy a little bit of everything — Western, big band, jazz, patriotic, and gospel music — with some comedy thrown in to make sure everyone leaves with a smile.
Four nights of evening entertainment will be presented in the Reaves Arena Monday, March 18, through Thursday, March 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night.
The Dick Goodwin Quintet will kick off the schedule of evening entertainment in Perry on Monday. The band will delight audiences of all ages with its vast repertoire of big band, old-time rock ‘n’ roll, and modern swing music. This evening’s entertainment program will be presented courtesy of Airstream Inc., C847, a 1-star sponsor.
Band leader Dick Goodwin has taught at the University of South Carolina and has composed and performed a variety of music — big band, jazz, opera, symphony — throughout the United States and abroad. He and other band members have performed with such notable stars as Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Henry Mancini, the Temptations, Natalie Cole, and the Guy Lombardo and Tommy Dorsey orchestras.
National pride takes center stage on Tuesday night as three singing cowboys join “Old Glory” in a program titled “A Patriotic Salute to America.” This program will be brought to the FMCA stage courtesy of National RV, C3451, a 5-star sponsor.
The good old days of cowboy stars such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers will come alive again as The Sons Of Tennessee saunter into their selection of Western music while firmly saddled aboard beautiful Palomino horses. The family group, which includes George Runquist and his sons, Jorgen and Zach, has entertained audiences throughout North America with authentic round-’em-up, sitting-’round-the-campfire style of music. All three are accomplished singers and musicians, and each can play a variety of instruments.
In Perry, expect the trio to perform several songs from their new patriotic/gospel album, “One Nation Under God.” Much of the material on this album was written by the two brothers and their mother, Cheryl. You also can see The Sons Of Tennessee and their horses at the Daytime Entertainment Stage on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday at noon.
Once The Sons Of Tennessee have ridden off into the sunset, stay in your seats for Flags Over America, a fascinating program that traces the history of the United States through the use of numerous flags that have flown over this great land at one time or another. Patriotism will fly high as members of FMCA’s Executive East Pioneers chapter, dressed in period clothing, present 36 flags, each accompanied by a corresponding story.
Produced and directed by Woody and Jeannie Miller, F233882, the show begins with the Pilgrims, marches through numerous armed conflicts the United States has engaged in, and culminates with veterans of all branches of the military services presenting today’s version of the Stars and Stripes. The program was first conceived by the Millers in 1990 and is a stirring presentation that will fill every American with pride.
At the end of the program, The Sons Of Tennessee will return to the stage and join with the Executive East Pioneers in a rousing patriotic finale that is sure to paint the arena red, white, and blue.
Mary Wilson, an original member of the Supremes, brings her own production of the Broadway hit Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies to the Reaves Arena stage on Wednesday evening. The performance will rekindle the musical memory of Ellington, from his early days playing in Harlem’s Cotton Club through his illustrious career as one of the country’s most famous jazz composers and entertainers. This magical evening will be presented courtesy of Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, a 5-star sponsor.
Accompanied by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and a cast of talented singers and dancers, Ms. Wilson will take the audience through a stylish retrospective of Ellington’s most celebrated songs, including “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Mood Indigo,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “In A Sentimental Mood,” and “Solitude.” The original Broadway production in 1981 received eight Tony Award nominations and won two awards.
Ms. Wilson found her own fame as a member of the Supremes, the popular female vocal group of the 1960s and ’70s that included Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. Between 1964 and 1969 the Supremes recorded 12 Billboard number-one singles, including such standards as “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Following her Supremes days, Ms. Wilson recorded three solo albums; appeared in several off-Broadway plays, movies, and television programs; and penned two best-selling autobiographies about her life as a member of the group.
An all-male choral group called the Palmetto Mastersingers will appear on Thursday evening. The group of approximately 50 members, ranging in age from the teens to the 80s, will treat the FMCA audience to a wide repertoire of patriotic, spiritual, and show tune/comedic music. They will be presented courtesy of Ganis Credit Corporation, C4076, a 5-star sponsor.
Based in Columbia, South Carolina, the Palmetto Mastersingers are under the direction of Walter Cuttino. Mr. Cuttino, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, sang professionally in Europe for 13 years before returning to the United States to teach at the University of South Carolina School of Music. FMCA members will enjoy his enthusiastic, personable, and fun approach to song.
Although the Palmetto Mastersingers perform mostly in the Columbia area, they have traveled extensively to sing in such venues as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France; the Dom cathedral in Cologne, Germany; St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City; the White House and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.; and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Currently, the group is preparing to record its third album.
You don’t have to wait until the sun sets to find great entertainment during your stay at the “Southern Sensation” convention. A full slate of fun is scheduled during the daytime hours to keep a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.
Early-bird arrivals can get a head start on the rest of the convention-goers by joining the “singing” square dance caller, Howard Cowles, F18517, for a few do-si-dos on Sunday evening in Reaves Arena. Howard has been calling square dances for more than 35 years and makes sure everyone is having a swinging good time, whether they’re dancing or just watching. If you won’t arrive until Monday, don’t worry; you can still promenade with Howard on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Seminar 7, the New South Arena.
Starting on Tuesday morning, wake up to the sounds of FMCA’s own Frustrated Maestros as you enjoy coffee and doughnuts at the Coffee Hour Tent in Lot CC. Composed of members from FMCA’s nine Frustrated Maestros chapters, this eclectic band presents a playful session of song, humor, sing-alongs, and dancing. The Maestros will be on stage from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. each day of the convention.
The remainder of the daytime entertainment takes place on the Daytime Entertainment Stage, located in the Coach Exhibit area in Lot M by the South Gate.
The 21-piece Houston County High School Jazz Ensemble from nearby Warner Robins will perform its brand of toe-tapping, finger-snapping music from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the “Motorhome Preview” on Monday. The group, under the direction of Casey Eubanks, has performed its style of big band, rock ‘n’ roll, and Latin music for festivals and events in the central Georgia area.
The Wings of Harmony Chorus will then take the stage from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday. The chorus is part of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women singers, and has entertained audiences in Georgia for more than 20 years with its four-part harmony, barbershop-style music. The group is made up of women from the surrounding Macon, Warner Robins, and Milledgeville areas, and is under the direction of Sue Ann Justus. A quartet from the chorus, 4n1, will return to the Daytime Entertainment Stage on Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Willie & Company returns to the FMCA convention stage for performances on Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Willie, a sassy ventriloquism doll, has the face of a 5-year-old but the quick wit of someone much older. He’s joined by the rest of the “Company,” including ventriloquist Peggy Miller and other members of his “family tree” — his great-great granny Gardner and his 3-year-old cousin Hannah Rebecca Hughes. Ms. Miller has performed her ventriloquism act throughout the United States and internationally. Her banter with the dolls is so amusing that it’s hard for anyone to keep a straight face — even Willie.
Flakey the Magic Clown, also known as Henry Gartner, F197563, will present his magic show for kids of all ages on Tuesday from noon to 1:00 p.m. Flakey’s motto, “Have Rabbit, Will Travel,” should come as no surprise to convention-goers who have seen his act before, which involves live rabbits and plenty of audience participation. Flakey also will be performing during Youth Center registration on Monday, March 18, and at the individual youth centers periodically throughout the convention. Mr. Gartner has clowned around to the delight of folks for more than 20 years after retiring from his job at Rockwell International.
If you’ve attended previous FMCA conventions, it’s likely that you’ve been entertained by the vocal talents of Alice Detrick. Ms. Detrick has performed original songs, as well as her own renditions of popular jazz, pop, country and western, and devotional melodies, at FMCA conventions and area rallies for more than 30 years. Her diverse repertoire and bubbly personality has earned her the title of “FMCA’s Sweetheart.” She will perform on the Daytime Entertainment Stage on Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; on Wednesday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and on Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.