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home : columnists : columnists September 20, 2017

8/28/2017 4:00:00 AM
Old-time music on Courthouse Square
Betsy Reasonís 11-year-old daughter sings a Patsy Cline song during rehearsals of Gold Country for this Saturdayís String-Time Series concert, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the Courthouse Square. The band features Noblesvilleís Harry Davis (from left), Janet Gilray, Bob Foster and Dan Wethington.
Betsy Reasonís 11-year-old daughter sings a Patsy Cline song during rehearsals of Gold Country for this Saturdayís String-Time Series concert, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the Courthouse Square. The band features Noblesvilleís Harry Davis (from left), Janet Gilray, Bob Foster and Dan Wethington.

By Betsy Reason

The northeast lawn of the historic Hamilton County Courthouse has been filling up on select Saturday nights with folks kicked back in lawn chairs while listening to old-time country music.

This Saturday will be the fourth free concert in Legacy Keepers Music 10th Anniversary String-Time Concert Series, which culminates on Sept. 16 with a free Pioneer Party in Forest Park.

I'm excited about this Saturday because my daughter, a sixth-grader at Noblesville East Middle School, has been invited to sing one song with the band, Gold Country, who will perform a free family-friendly concert from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with pre-show activities beginning at 7 p.m.

We attended one of the band's rehearsals last week at Arcadia's Hedgehog Music Showcase, owned by Noblesville's Bob Foster. The bass player is one of four members who make up the Gold Country band, which also includes Noblesville's Dan Wethington on five-string banjo, Harry Davis on lead guitar and Janet Gilray on vocals and rhythm guitar. Gilray is executive director of Legacy Keepers, an educational charity that she started in 2007 to teach history through traditional song.

My daughter had a great time practicing with the band, who made her feel quite important as she took the microphone and rehearsed a Patsy Cline classic on the Hedgehog stage. They even did a photo shoot with professional photographer, Arcadia's Sally Wolf, whose beautiful photos of barns, landscapes, flowers, animals, cars and Cuba are now on exhibit through Wednesday at Noblesville City Hall.

It wasn't the first time that my daughter has been on the Hedgehog stage, the same stage where nationally known musicians have performed, including singer Leon Redbone, who we saw in 2011. She performed there in December during the official Indiana Bicentennial Celebration, when she sang "Back Home Again in Indiana" during Indiana's birthday party. She performed the same song at another official 2016 bicentennial event, at the inaugural Pioneer Party in the Park.

Gilray said she was pleasantly surprised when the lawn filled up at the first show in the series that featured PrairieTown String Band, with Wethington, Foster and herself, and special guests youth band, the Wild Flowers. On the second Saturday, Cornfields & Crossroads band brought together Wethington, Mark Graham, Joe Flowers and Darrell Duety, and filled the lawn again, spilling over onto the sidewalk. The third band in the series was Saturday night with folks getting a taste of Blackberry Jam, a band that Arcadia's Jean Roberts started and plays guitar alongside her husband, Steve Kobe, and others. And again, the lawn filled with folks, tapping their toes.

Gilray, who's pleased with the turnout for the inaugural String-Time Concert series, said she's "happy to bring country music into the heart of Old Town." She's "thrilled with the community response."

She played in a country band for a long time around Bakersfield, Calif., the town that late country singer Buck Owens sang about. Even though she noticed that signage along Indiana 37 recognized country music singer and Noblesville native Steve Wariner, she had trouble finding a place to listen to country music. "My folks are from there....and hearing the term 'Noble-tucky' applied to the area, caused me to expect to hear a lot of 'my music' around town."

What Gilray found instead was a lot of people who longed for live country music. She decided to help fill the void. "Eventually I wandered down the right path and here we are, ready for our Saturday evening show," she said.

Gilray is are especially proud of the platform she provides to her special guests, which also include Jim Barnhill, recipient of the 2015 North American Country Music Association Most Promising award in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with Hank Williams covers.

Everybody who's coming out to the show, be sure to pack your lawn chairs so you can sit a spell. Also, wear your cowboy hat and boots if you have 'em.

Youngsters are encouraged to get up close to the stage, to sing along and dance, or just listen.

"That's how we learn, ground level, watching players up close," Gilray said.

"I want Grannies, Gramps and people from all walks of life, just to have the pleasure of gathering and hearing the family old-timey style, to share to relax, to reminisce, to make new memories."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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