Set a course for nightly fun during FMCA’s 80th International Convention.
By Doug Uhlenbrock, Associate Editor
Folks who “Navigate To The North Star State” for FMCA’s 80th International Convention, July 14 through 17, 2008, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, should keep their schedules clear for the evening hours, as they won’t want to miss the incredible entertainment lineup.
Beginning on Sunday, July 13, square dance caller Jack Ingle will have folks swinging, swaying, and promenading during Square, Round, and Line Dancing from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Education Building, courtesy of Aon Recreation Insurance, C95, an FMCA Three Star sponsor.
Square dancing has been a staple at FMCA conventions for years, giving participants a chance to socialize while getting some exercise at the same time. Jack has been a square-dance caller for more than 20 years and has taught dancing for more than 13 years, so everyone from novices to experienced dancers can participate in a night of upbeat activity.
Evening entertainment on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights will take place at the Grandstand beginning at 7:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, the entertainment on these nights will move to the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum.
On Monday, get ready for a night of uncontrollable laughter as stage hypnotist Lorri Michals puts a group of volunteers under her spell, resulting in side-splitting fun for the entire audience.
With a background in entertainment, communication, and facilitation, Lorri has been performing comedy hypnosis since 1986. You’ll be amazed at how effortlessly she makes normal folks do the most outrageous things during her dynamic performance. Watch as fellow convention-goers follow Lorri’s suggestions to compete for the “American Idol” title; bark out orders like a military drill sergeant; or perhaps try to figure out why every time they hear the word “ring,” they believe their shoe is a cell phone and try to answer it. While Lorri provides an unforgettably hilarious show, those who participate are treated with courtesy, respect, and dignity, making it appropriate for all.
Lorri, a resident of St. Paul, has performed throughout the United States and Canada, as well as overseas in Finland, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Japan.
On Tuesday evening, a taste of Branson, Missouri, makes it way north to St. Paul as the Brett Family Singers take the stage to perform their fast-paced variety show.
This talented family of five has performed in Branson since 1999, beginning with one season aboard the Showboat Branson Belle and continuing for the last nine years with a morning show at the Legends Family Theatre. The Brett Family Singers’ performance is packed with feel-good music and dance, showcasing classic favorites from the 1930s all the way to the present, as well as country, gospel, and patriotic songs.
Parents Tom and Andrea share duties leading the group. Tom is the producer and manager, while Andrea handles the vocal and musical arrangements and costume design. They are also tremendous singers and musicians who have passed their love of music on to their children. The oldest, Briahna, 27, is an accomplished singer and dancer and has performed in numerous musical theater productions, making her a natural onstage; Brydon, 23, has a soulful voice, suave dance moves, and an outgoing personality that audiences love; and Garon, 18, has been on stage for more than half of his life, providing solid vocals and a cool stage presence.
On Wednesday night, see one of the musical groups responsible for creating the country-rock genre when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, featuring Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, John McEuen, and Bob Carpenter, takes the stage, courtesy of Signature Resorts, C11470, an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
The original Nitty Gritty Dirt Band began in Santa Monica, California, in 1965, playing jug band music at local clubs. The group’s self-titled debut album was released in 1967 and included the modest hit “Buy for Me the Rain.” After several more albums and a switch from acoustic to electric instruments, the group put out the country music-based “Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy,” including its best-known single, “Mr. Bojangles,” which climbed to #9 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971.
The band’s move to country was solidified with its 1972 album, “All The Good Times,” and its trip the same year to Nashville to record “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with members of country and bluegrass music’s veteran elite. Through the 1970s the group went through several lineup changes, shortened its name to The Dirt Band, and evolved into a more mainstream pop/rock band. By 1982, however, the “Nitty Gritty” returned, as did the country sound, resulting in the 1983 album “Let’s Go.”
The band’s biggest year came in 1989 when it recorded “Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2,” which received a Grammy for Best Country Performance (duo or group) and was named the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year. The album also included “The Valley Road,” a song written and performed by Bruce Hornsby and the band, which won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Recording. The group continued to produce country albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2004 it received the Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance for its rendition of “Earl’s Breakdown,” along with Earl Scruggs, Jerry Douglas, Randy Scruggs, and the late Vassar Clements. Its most recent album, “Welcome to Woody Creek,” released in 2004, shows that the band hasn’t forgotten its mountain music roots from more than 40 years ago.
The final evening of entertainment for the “Navigate To The North Star State” convention will feature one of the late-1960s’ most successful performers as Gary Puckett takes the stage, courtesy of Cummins Onan Corp., C87, an FMCA Super Star sponsor.
In the early 1960s, Gary and four other musicians formed the Outcasts, a hard rock outfit that gained a following in San Diego and the Pacific Northwest. In 1967 CBS producer Jerry Fuller saw them perform in a bowling alley and offered them a recording contract. Fuller was impressed with Puckett’s voice but suggested that the band soften its sound. The group was renamed The Union Gap, which eventually became Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.
The band’s first single, “Woman, Woman,” was an immediate success, soaring to #4 on the Billboard chart in November 1967. What followed during the next two years was a string of top 20 hits, including “Young Girl” (#2), “Lady Willpower” (#2), “Over You” (#7), and “Don’t Give In To Him” (#15). Dressed in Civil War uniforms, the band headlined concert halls throughout the United States, including performances at the White House and Disneyland.
The band returned to the Top 10 with “This Girl Is A Woman Now” (#9), which would be its last hit. By 1971 Union Gap was disbanded and Gary was performing as a solo act. In 1973 he decided to change direction and began studying acting and dance, performing in theatrical productions in and around Los Angeles.
Gary returned to the music scene in 1984 as part of the Happy Together oldies package tour, and in 1986 he was tapped to open for the Monkees on their 20th anniversary tour. Gary Puckett remains a favorite on the oldies tour, belting out hits that dominated the airwaves during the late 1960s.