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Friday Night Jam opens to sell out

It was a toe-tapping night on Capitol Avenue Friday evening as the Hayswood Theatre hosted its first ‘Friday Night Jam’ to a sold-out audience.
The evening got off to a wonderful start with a group of fine musicians called the ‘Blue River Ramblers.’ They opened with a soft, alluring Vassar Clements’ song called ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues.’ Within minutes, the band’s violinist, Laura Goins, had the audience eating out of her hand. She flowed almost effortlessly through the tune with a sound that was a little Irish, a little bluegrass and a lot her own.
A couple of songs later, she sat her violin down and smiled up at the audience, knowing full well she had them hooked.
Larry Riehle, the band’s bass man, added a warm rhythm background, as did mandolin player Dan Goins, (Laura’s dad), and the very tasteful banjo player, Gary Davenport.
The band’s percussionist, Glen Crecelius, was a show all by himself. He plays everything that’s not nailed down, including a bucket, a washboard and what looked like a piece of kitchen drainpipe. But his contribution to the band is priceless. You just can’t watch the man perform without tapping your feet. The band’s guitarist/vocalist Tom Cudding’s wit and humor rounded out the group’s immediate appeal.
Their ability to take a rather brittle bluegrass or folk song and soften it just a little, made them the perfect band for the Hayswood event.
Next up was singer Jill Robertson, who took the audience back to the ’70s with a really nice medley of Carole King songs. Her band was made up of three musicians with the Blue River Ramblers: Larry Riehle, Gary Davenport and Glen Crecelius, plus Beth Bostock on piano.
The singer opened with a song from King’s ‘Tapestry’ album, and the audience warmed up to her almost immediately. Then she shifted to some of the King favorites, like, ‘It’s Too Late’ and ‘I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet.’ It was 1975 again.
Robertson pulled up a stool, sat down and gave the audience a taste of the Sherrills’ old song, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,’ and judging by the applause, the audience thanked her for it. She also sang a warm rendition of ‘You’ve Got a Friend,’ a song written by Carole King but made popular by James Taylor.
But the ‘highlight’ of her set had to be ‘Natural Woman,’ an old Aretha Franklin song also written by King. When the song was over, Robertson wore a big smile of satisfaction. She knews he had, ‘done it right.’
After a short intermission with refreshments, the stage shifted gears a little with some 100 percent folkabilly provided by singer/guitarist Jay Hood, Gary Davenport, Larry Riehle and Glen Crecelius. Their set pretty much covered everything. They did songs about ‘lying, crying and dying,’ with a lot of good jokes in between.
They also did a stirring version of Jean Richie’s ‘The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,’ and ‘The Bounty Hunter’ told a great story. But it was the hilarious ‘The Fur Coat’ that the audience loved. It was a song about a guy who made his wife a fur coat and hat from road kill (maybe you had to be there).
The show came to an end with the Blue River Ramblers back on stage with ‘I’ll Fly Away.’ Then, all the performers returned to the stage for ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken.’
The show was really great family entertainment. The folks at Hayswood can pat themselves on the back for this one. The audience already did, with a standing ovation at the close of the show.
Hayswood’s Sara Wendelin was hostess and announcer for the event. The next ‘Friday Night Jam’ will be on Feb. 3. Tickets are $10.
Call Magdalena’s for reservations at 738-8075.