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2009-09-03 digital edition

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2009-09-03 / Front Page

Country Music Monday to Host 200th Show

by Kristen Card

Caption: Pictured are members of the house band that plays every month at Country Music Monday. They are (left to right, front) Don George, Bill Dowdy, Frank Juricek, (back) Randy Bishop, Jerry Payne, Ken Brothers, Brian Gersch, Buddy Boehm and Troy Kunkel. PHOTO BY CAROL BENNETT. Caption: Pictured are members of the house band that plays every month at Country Music Monday. They are (left to right, front) Don George, Bill Dowdy, Frank Juricek, (back) Randy Bishop, Jerry Payne, Ken Brothers, Brian Gersch, Buddy Boehm and Troy Kunkel. PHOTO BY CAROL BENNETT. Country Music Monday began more than 16 years ago as a fundraising idea for the Rotary Club of Giddings. Set to celebrate its 200th show next Monday, this once-a-month-come-heck-orhigh water event not only is a money-making success allowing the club to contribute in excess of $120,000 in scholarships to area high school students, but also has become a community-building and bonding experience for hundreds of Central Texas country music fans.

Doug Westfall, who has emceed the event from the beginning said, "We held our first show in January 1993 after trying to figure out a better way to raise money. We charged $2 a head back then, and it was kind of hokey. But we've really grown. We feel like we run a professional quality operation with an extremely talented house band and quality entertainers, and we charge a whopping $3 per person now."

The crowd is typically around 500 people, and the average age among audience members is estimated to be about 70 years old. "There is no dance floor," asserts Westfall. "When we conceived this idea, we laughed and said, 'No smoking, no drinking, no dancing - in Giddings, Texas? No way!' But in fact, that's what fits our audience.

Over the years, Country Music Monday has featured a broad spectrum of "country" music, including traditional country, new country, bluegrass, gospel and big-band sounds. Featured performers are backed up by a masterful house band (with several hundred years combined musical experience), and while the band members receive a stipend, featured guests perform gratis. The event's talent coordinator, Mary Ross, keeps the show booked up well in advance.

"As far as big names go, we sort of teeter at the edge of fame," Westfall teases. We've had Clint Black's brother, Kevin Black, and Charley Pride's brother, Steven Pride and we've had Ricky Skaggs' first cousin."

Westfall said, "We see the same faces, sitting in the same places month after month. We know where they're from, what they like and don't like, and we miss them when they're not here. We've got one lady from Smithville who has not missed but one show, due to the death of her husband.

"This is quite an event," sums up Westfall. "It gives our fans something to look forward to and somewhere to see their friends for a fun evening."

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