Little Jimmy Dickens, Gene Watson to headline at Lantex Theater in Llano

The Llano Country Opry will be staged at the Lantex Theater in Llano, on Saturday, Jan. 12.’ Little Jimmy Dickens, Gene Watson and the Farewell Party Band will headline two performances at the historic theater.’Showtimes are 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m..’ Advance tickets are $20 and are on sale at the Llano and Kingsland Chamber of Commerce, Llano National Bank, KNEL radio or by calling (325) 247-5354. Less than 100 tickets remain available for the two performances. Country Music Hall of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens is the master of the country novelty song, as well as a renowned ballad singer. He also is known for his diminutive stature’he’s less than five feet tall’and his affection for flamboyant, rhinestone-studded outfits and country humor. He managed to have hits in every decade between the 1940s and the 1970s, and he became one of the Grand Ole Opry’s most popular performers. Dickens was the 13th child of a West Virginian farmer. During his childhood, he fell in love with music and had a dream of performing on the Grand Ole Opry. He began performing professionally while he was a student at the University of’West Virginia in the late ’30s, singing on a local radio station. Dickens left school shortly after he received his regular radio job. He began traveling around the country, singing on radio shows in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan under the name Jimmy the Kid. Roy Acuff heard Dickens sing on a radio show in Saginaw, Mich., and invited him to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1949, Dickens’who was now using the name Little Jimmy Dickens’became a permanent member of the Grand Ole Opry. That year, he also signed a record contract with Columbia Records, releasing his first single, ‘Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait,’ in the spring of 1949. The song became a Top Ten hit and launched a string of hit novelty, ballad, and honky tonk singles that lasted for a year, including ‘Country Boy,’ ‘A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,’ ‘Hillbilly Fever,’ and ‘My Heart’s Bouquet.’ Early in the ’50s, he formed a band called the Country Boys, which featured a steel guitar, two lead guitars, and drums. With their spirited traditional country approach and vague rockabilly inflections, the band didn’t sound like their Nashville contemporaries. In 1954, he would enjoy one of his biggest records with ‘Out Behind The Barn.’ Dickens bounced back to the Top Ten with the ballad ‘The Violet and the Rose’ in 1962. Three years later, he had his biggest hit, ‘May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose.’ The single topped the country charts and crossed over to number 15 on the pop charts. He followed that with his next single, ‘Where Were You When the Ship Hit the Sand’ In 1968, he stopped recording for Columbia, signing with Decca Records, where he had more hits in the ‘late ’60s and early ’70s. In 1971, he moved to United Artists and began to concentrate on performing as his main creative outlet. Dickens continued to tour and perform at the Grand Ole Opry, becoming one of the most beloved characters in country music. ‘I don’t tour very often,’ Dickens said from his Nashville home.’ ‘I just celebrated my 86th birthday.’ It has been years since I have been to’Texas, and I decided that I would accept’Tracy’s offer’and come and see all of my friends down there.’ Gene Watson was born in Palestine, Tex,, and raised in Paris, Tex., in a musical family.’ He first worked as a professional at the age of 13. In 1963, he moved to Houston, where he found daytime employment in car engine and bodywork repairs.’ During the evenings, he continued to work the dances and clubs throughout the Houston area.’ He became a very popular honky-tonk singer around the local clubs, such as the Dynasty, where he was resident for several years. He recorded for labels including Reeder, Wide World and Stoneway before gaining his first country hit with ‘Bad Water’ on the Resco label in 1975. Capitol Records then signed him and Watson had a Top 10 country hit with’ ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’. Further Top 10 hits followed, including ‘Paper Rosie’, ‘One Sided Conversation’, ‘Farewell Party’, ‘Should I Come Home’ and ‘Nothing Sure Looked Good On You’. Watson moved to MCA Records and his recording of ‘Fourteen Carat Mind’ gave him his first US country number 1. He moved to Epic in 1985, gaining a number 5 hit with ‘Memories To Burn’, but changed to Warner Brothers Records in 1988, where he immediately repeated the success with ‘Don’t Waste It On The Blues’. Watson is a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.’ His awards are many, but his most important contribution to the industry is his voice.’ He still sings just the way he did 20 years ago.’ His fans still come out in and he sells out many of his shows. Watson is at his best with ballads and with his band, the Farewell Party, he has become a favorite of George Jones and George Strait. He continues to perform over 100 shows per year.’ He has also just released a brand new album with his two singles already receiving extensive radio airplay. Tracy Pitcox will MC the show. For more information about the Llano or Mason Country Opry, log on to www.heartoftexascountry.com.

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