If it’s true that variety is the spice of life, FMCA has prepared a zesty entertainment lineup for its gathering in the “Land of Enchantment.”
By Doug Uhlenbrock
Albuquerque, New Mexico, site of FMCA’s 71st International Convention, March 16, 17, and 18, is a city so diverse that it cannot be defined simply by its geography, history, or inhabitants.
These differences provide the foundation for the city’s distinctive spirit. Albuquerque is ancient and contemporary; traditional Hispanic and red, white, and blue American; small town and big city. Petroglyphs, chiles, the National Atomic Museum, cowboys, sombreros, pueblos, fine dining, and perfect sunsets are just a few attributes that make Albuquerque such a vibrant city.
Hoping to replicate this type of exciting diversity, FMCA has assembled an entertainment lineup that features an array of terrific musical and comedy acts to capture the essence of the “Duke City.” Whether you enjoy out-on-the-range cowboy songs, big band dancing, mariachi, a Las Vegas nightclub show, classical guitar music, famous country stars, or longtime FMCA convention favorites, you’ll find them and more during your stay in Albuquerque.
Evenings Under The Stars
Early arrivals to Balloon Fiesta Park, the main parking area for the “Albuquerque Adventure” convention, can relax to the Western sounds of the Flying J Wranglers, Sunday March 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Since 1982, the Wranglers have entertained thousands of people with their authentic blend of cowboy music and humor.
Led by founder James Hobbs (rhythm guitar, vocals), the Wranglers perform a variety of old-time cowboy songs, traditional Western favorites, and a selection of their own foot-stomping originals. Other band members include James’ wife, Cindy, a former Grand National Western Style Yodeling Champion; Randy Jones (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and dobro); Roy Black (acoustic bass guitar); Colin Campbell (vocals); and Marilyn Trotter, a three-time New Mexico State Fiddle Champion.
The Wranglers usually can be found at the Flying J Ranch near Ruidoso, New Mexico, where visitors are treated to a chuck wagon supper and a Western stage show. The group also has played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee; at the Saddle Up Celebration in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; and internationally in Japan, Italy, and Germany. If you miss the Wranglers on Sunday, don’t fret. They also will be performing at the Daytime Entertainment Stage at EXPO New Mexico on Tuesday from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. and from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
To get the good times rolling on Monday, March 15, dust off your dancing shoes and hop on over to Tingley Coliseum at EXPO New Mexico for a night of dancing to the sounds of Tuxedo Junction from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The group will appear courtesy of North Dakota State Fair, C9318, an FMCA One Star sponsor.
Enjoy favorite songs made famous by many of the great big-band performers of the 1930s and ’40s, such as Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. The full sound of Tuxedo Junction will remind members of the days when swing was king.
Since most family members who attend this convention will park at the Balloon Fiesta grounds and travel to EXPO New Mexico for convention activities, entertainment on Tuesday and Wednesday nights will take place earlier in the evening.
On Tuesday, March 16, convention-goers will enjoy a special treat when nationally acclaimed entertainer John Davidson, who has starred on stage and screen for more than 40 years, performs his Las Vegas-style show at Tingley Coliseum beginning at 5:30 p.m. He’ll appear courtesy of Country Coach Inc., C2132, an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
John has enjoyed an illustrious career onstage as both an actor and singer. Introduced to Las Vegas audiences by Jack Benny in 1966, he has headlined at many of the premier showplaces throughout the world. He also has recorded 14 albums, including his most recent, “Goin’ Like Sixtay!”
John, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broke into show business in the 1964 Broadway musical “Foxy.” Later that year he made his television debut in “The Entertainers,” a variety show that featured future stars such as Carol Burnett, Dom Delouise, and Bob Newhart. Following a two-year run as a regular on that show, Hollywood took notice of the young singer and he was cast in a pair of Disney musicals, The Happiest Millionaire and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. His silver-screen resume also includes roles in The Concorde: Airport ’79, The Squeeze, and Edward Scissorhands.
Davidson is perhaps best known for his work in television. His credits include numerous guest appearances on hit series, including “Love, American Style”; “The Streets of San Francisco”; and “Love Boat.” But most people probably remember him best as the host of two of America’s favorite game shows: “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “The New Hollywood Squares.” He also hosted his own talk show, “The John Davidson Show,” was co-host of “That’s Incredible!” and frequently guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”
When not in front of the camera, Davidson could be found on stage. In 1965 he earned a Theater World Award for his portrayal of Curly in the City Center’s revival of “Oklahoma!” Other musical roles included Harold Hill in “The Music Man”; King Arthur and Sir Lancelot in “Camelot”; Will Rogers in “The Will Rogers Follies”; and Teddy Roosevelt in “Teddy & Alice.” His interest and admiration for Roosevelt led to a successful national tour in the acclaimed one-man show, “Bully! An Adventure With Teddy Roosevelt.” In 1996 Davidson returned to his Broadway roots by playing the lead role in Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s “State Fair,” and starred in the show’s first national tour. In 2000 he appeared off Broadway opposite Morgan Fairchild in the comedy “High Infidelity.”
Longtime country music fans will flock to Tingley Coliseum on Wednesday, March 17, as Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers perform from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. They’ll be brought to the stage courtesy of Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, an FMCA Five Star Sponsor.
More than 40 years ago, Larry and his brothers, Steve and Rudy, started singing in their hometown of Abilene, Texas. Raised on gospel music, they began entertaining audiences in churches and appearances on the Slim Willet radio and TV show in Abilene when they were 2 (Rudy), 4 (Steve), and 6 (Larry) years old. “Rudy could barely sing at the time and we all dressed in cowboy suits and looked real cute,” Steve recalled. The brothers still maintain their passion for the music they were reared on.
In the early 1970s, Larry was discovered by Dottie West and moved to Nashville to write songs that would be recorded by performers such as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, and Elvis Presley. In 1972 he landed a solo deal with Monument Records through friend Kris Kristofferson and invited his siblings to Nashville to sing backup on his first two albums “” “The Pilgrim” and “Rain Rainbow.” In 1976 Larry notched his first number-one hit, “Broken Lady,” which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. “High Time,” released in 1977, was credited to “Larry Gatlin with Brothers and Friends,” and featured the number-one hit “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love.” The success of this album encouraged the brothers to become an official trio in 1979. That year Larry was named the Academy of Country Music’s Top Male Vocalist, while “Straight Ahead” won Album of the Year and “All The Gold In California” won Single of the Year.
During the next decade the brothers scored more than a dozen Top 40 hits while packing concert halls across the country. In 1992, they decided to stop touring and ended with “The Adios Tour,” along with an accompanying album release of the same name. However, after being persuaded to perform again, they are now in the midst of “The Gatlin Brothers Never Ending Reunion Tour,” playing selected dates around the country, along with their regular performances at the Will Rogers Theater in Branson, Missouri.
Following the Gatlin Brothers’ performance, head back to Balloon Fiesta Park for a fantastic fireworks show that will begin at approximately 9:00 p.m., courtesy of Dometic Corporation, C306, an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
Thursday evening, March 18, has been designated “Fiesta Night,” and attendees will be treated to an exciting evening of music, food, and fun at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Giving the party a rousing start at 6:00 p.m. will be Mariachi Tenampa, an authentic mariachi band based in Albuquerque that is sure to put FMCA members in a Southwest frame of mind. This eight-piece group has been in existence for more than three decades and is recognized as one of New Mexico’s finest mariachi ensembles. The band will appear courtesy of Ford Motor Company, C405, an FMCA Three Star Sponsor.
Mariachi Tenampa, which has recorded three albums, includes Miguel Ojeda and Daniel Villa on trumpet; Elias Ojeda, Joseph Santiago, and Felipe Alfaro on violin; Al Garule on vihuela; Ricardo Leon on guitar; and Raul Ojeda on guitarron. The band has shared the stage and recorded with numerous Mexican singing stars, and plays throughout the Southwest. Locally, the group can be heard at Garduno’s of Mexico and El Bandido restaurants.
Speaking of food, during Mariachi Tenampa’s performance, attendees can enjoy a chuck wagon dinner, co-sponsored by Ganis Credit Corp./Deutsche Financial, C4076, an FMCA Five Star sponsor, and FMCA.
Next, convention attendees will be treated to a spectacular sight as approximately 15 tethered hot-air balloons fire up their burners for an early-evening balloon glow. You won’t want to miss the sight of these colorful balloons shining beautifully against the backdrop of Albuquerque’s spectacular turquoise-blue sky. The balloon glow will be sponsored by Motor Home Specialists, an FMCA Super Star sponsor.
Afterward, attendees should head back to the entertainment tent for a heaping of cowboy music with Syd Masters & The Swing Riders.
Syd (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and his sidekicks, Uncle Bob (lead guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and harmony vocals), and Slim J (fiddle bass and harmony vocals) will perform their brand of Western swing dance music, sprinkled with a selection of traditional trail songs and cowboy humor. The Swing Riders have played at numerous events throughout the Southwest and received Western Music Association nominations for the last two years for “Best Western Swing Band.” In 2003 the group’s single, “Out in the Country,” won the New Mexico Music Industry’s award for Best Country Song.
Daytime Fun Under The Sun
Of course, FMCA members don’t have to wait until the sun sets to hear some great music or enjoy a few laughs with friends. Beginning on Monday afternoon, March 15, the Daytime Entertainment Stage at EXPO New Mexico will come to life with a variety of performances that are sure to keep the mood festive throughout the event. All daytime entertainment will take place at the New Mexico State Fair Pavilion located at Main Street and Racetrack Avenue. Unless otherwise noted, all daytime entertainment for the convention is sponsored by Liberty Coach Inc., C733, and Liberty Coach of Florida, C9408, together an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
On Monday at 3:00 p.m. the gates will open for the “Motorhome Preview,” a special sneak peek of the motorhome exhibits. Plan to arrive at EXPO New Mexico a little early and enjoy the eclectic music of The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band, which will be on stage from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The Watermelon Jug Band has entertained audiences since 1975 with its down-home brand of “jug band” music, reminiscent of that played in the South during the 1920s. It also performs a variety of ragtime, country, and bluegrass songs. Its members include Ben Perea (lead guitar, banjo), Pat Houlihan (vocals, rhythm guitar, kazoo, jaw harp), JoAnn Sartorius (vocals, kazoo, jug, spoons, percussion), Gary Oleson (washtub bass), and Barbara Piper (washboard, high-hat, percussion). The band has appeared at numerous Albuquerque-area venues, including the Rio Grande Zoo, Albuquerque Bio Park, the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival, and with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.
Next comes the good-natured humor of Willie & Company, from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m. Ventriloquist Peggy Miller “” along with her right-hand friend, Willie “” has brought laughter to FMCA conventions and rallies for years with her rib-tickling act. Willie & Company, which also will appear Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to noon and again on Thursday from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m., is sponsored by Freightliner Custom Chassis, C1905, an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
Willie is the forever-young, 6-year-old star of the show who takes great pleasure in flirting with the ladies, antagonizing the men, and amazing the children. He possesses a quick wit, a soft heart, and a treasure trove of amusing stories that keep audiences laughing from start to finish. If you’re lucky, you may even get to meet Willie’s cousin, Hannah, and his Great-Great Granny Gardner. You’ll be surprised how quickly you forget who’s really doing the talking.
Peggy has performed throughout the United States and internationally. As a longtime favorite at FMCA gatherings, Willie & Company is one of just two acts to have its own fan club chapter of FMCA.
Beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, classical guitarist Gustavo Pimentel will delight the crowd with a selection of beautiful music. Gustavo began playing guitar in 1974 in the studios of his famous guitar-building family, Pimentel and Son’s Guitars of Albuquerque. Accomplished in such varied styles as classical, flamenco, and popular, he studied at the prestigious Estudio de Arte Guitarristico in Mexico City, Mexico, where he worked with several of the world’s finest classical guitar instructors. In addition, he participated in the National Competition of Guitar at the University of Jalapa, located in Vera Cruz, Mexico.
Although Gustavo performs extensively in his hometown, he has played worldwide, including several concerts in Helmstadt, Germany, last year. He has recorded one CD, “The Cosmopolitan Guitar,” which includes a beautiful blend of classical pieces and Spanish ballads.
Round out Monday’s daytime activities with a little laughter, courtesy of Flakey the Magic Clown, who will be on stage from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. Flakey, better known as Henry Gartner, F197563, when not in makeup, has delighted FMCA audiences for years with his balloon creations and magic tricks. Flakey often asks members of the audience to help him with his act “” with hilarious results “” so don’t be surprised if he chooses you. He will appear in Albuquerque courtesy of Blue Ox, C2903, an FMCA Two Star sponsor.
If you miss Flakey during the “Motorhome Preview,” he will be back at the Daytime Entertainment Stage on Wednesday from noon to 12:45 p.m. to perform his “Magic Show For Kids Of All Ages.” Flakey also will entertain the youngsters at Youth Center registration on Monday, March 15, and at the Youth Center throughout the convention.
The “Albuquerque Adventure” convention officially gets under way on Tuesday, March 16. To make sure you’re up to the task of seeing and doing all that’s planned for this gathering, stop by Morning Coffee Hour each day from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. for complimentary coffee and doughnuts. For the convenience of members, Coffee Hour areas will be set up at both Balloon Fiesta Park (near the entertainment stage) and EXPO New Mexico (located near the Daytime Entertainment Stage). The coffee and tasty treats are provided courtesy of Guaranty RV Center, C4161, an FMCA Super Star sponsor, and FMCA. Daily newspapers, compliments of Tracks To Adventure, C1034, an FMCA Two Star sponsor, will be available, as will a copy of the official FMCA “Albuquerque Adventure” newsletter, sponsored by Coachmen RV, C328, an FMCA Three Star sponsor.
Members who choose to enjoy their coffee and doughnuts at Balloon Fiesta Park will be entertained by FMCA’s own Frustrated Maestros, who will perform each day from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. This eclectic ensemble, composed of members from various Frustrated Maestros chapters, has been a convention favorite since the original Frustrated Maestros chapter was formed in 1981.
Should you head over to EXPO New Mexico early, you can enjoy your breakfast while being serenaded by “FMCA’s Sweetheart,” Alice Detrick, who will perform at the Daytime Entertainment Stage from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. all three days. For more than 30 years, Alice has delighted audiences at FMCA conventions and rallies with her terrific vocal talents and bubbly personality. As they did with Willie & Company, FMCAers demonstrated their loyalty to her by organizing a fan club chapter in her honor.
On Tuesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., enjoy the old-time cowboy sounds of Joe Harris, “The Good Guy.” Joe’s rendition of familiar country ballads will have listeners humming along. Joe also will appear on Wednesday from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. and on Thursday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Appearing Tuesday from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. will be Bill White, presenting his tribute to country superstar Jim Reeves. Bill, a nephew of Reeves, delights audiences with his smooth renditions of “Gentleman Jim’s” classic songs, such as “Welcome To My World,” “He’ll Have To Go,” “I Love You Because,” and Reeves’ first hit, “Four Walls.”
Bill, who is pastor of The Oaks Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, recently recorded his second CD, “Singing The Story,” a compilation of gospel songs. He’ll return to the stage on Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. and Thursday from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
On Wednesday, join the Masat Family from Alba, Texas, for an hour of inspirational music from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Members of this musical family have entertained audiences for more than 12 years with their uplifting performances. They include Sarah, 21 (piano, fiddle); Rachel, 17 (lead vocals, violin, mandolin, guitar); Sterling, 14 (banjo and guitar); Royal, 11 (violin, bass, dobro, ukulele, and harmonica); mom Margo (upright bass); and dad Ken (guitar). They have played for audiences throughout the United States, including performances at Six Flags Over Texas, in Arlington, and Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. In addition, they have recorded nine albums, including their most recent, “Life, Love, and Dancing.” The Masat Family also will appear on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Bob’s Cats, a select group of Frustrated Maestros musicians, will provide the entertainment during the Ice Cream Social on Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. in the Coffee Hour area at EXPO New Mexico. The group will perform Dixieland tunes and old-time favorites as convention-goers enjoy their tasty treats, which will be provided by RV Alliance America, C95, an FMCA Super Star sponsor.