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Tribute to legends sure to rock the house

Fifty years ago Feb. 3 rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens tragically died in a plane crash. A local band will bring alive their music and memory Saturday, Feb. 28, at The Music Barn in Williamson. The Generics, led by John Williams and Merritt Spier, will pay tribute to the trio with hits such as Holly’s “Peggy Sue,” Valens’ “Oh Donna” and The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” They will also perform songs of other rock and roll legends of the 1950s such as Bobby Darin, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Patsy Cline. The idea for the show came from Wesley Jarrett, 20, an occasional guest guitarist and vocalist with the band. A young fan of the old rock and roll genre, he asked the band about doing the tribute after learning there would be a tribute done at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa ‘“ their final performance before the crash. The band embraced the idea. The 50s theme has taken off. Band members will dress in clothing of the era. Jarrett will portray Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. Williams will portray The Big Bopper. Spier will wear a sweater given to him by his mother when he was 15. It is vintage 1950s. Others will wear rolled up blue jeans, t-shirts and high school jackets. Those who attend are encouraged to bring out the poodle skirts and saddle shoes, the rolled up jeans and leather jackets. The first group will perform at 6 p.m. and the tribute show begins at 8 p.m. A number of surprises are in store. Best of all, there is no charge for admission. However, donations are welcome. The Music Barn, is owned and operated by Williams and his wife Sandra, who have invested 23 years of time and money in creating a place where people can enjoy country, bluegrass and gospel music and have clean fun. Williams founded The Music Barn so he and his band could have a place to play. He rented what was then a small block building from a friend. With the help of a few others, he enclosed it and built a stage. That was the beginning. It was the first of its kind south of Atlanta, a place where amateur musicians could showcase their talent and people could hear them at no charge. The Music Barn today is slightly larger than it used to be and it sports newly painted walls and a new door at the entrance. The auditorium still has 92 theater chairs donated from an old high school building in Warm Springs. Folding chairs provide additional seating. At the entrance, the walls showcase photos of the hundreds of groups and individuals that have performed there over the years. Refreshments are provided near the lobby, as are restroom facilities. A “pickin’ room” behind the stage is where musicians can warm up before they go on stage. There are three pickin’ sheds behind the Music Barn which offer heated (in winter) and cooled space for musicians to hold mini sessions. On Friday nights musicians gather for jam sessions, and every other Friday evening a fund raiser dinner is held. It is by donations The Music Barn continues to operate. Each Saturday night there are two or three bands on the roster to perform. Williams himself gets on stage with his guitar and sings. He also plays the harmonica. He is a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor he received several years ago in recognition for founding The Music Barn. The Music Barn is a place to bring children of all ages. As long as the donations keep coming, the doors will be open on Saturday nights. To help fund operations, there will be a barbecue dinner marking the 23rd anniversary of the Music Barn, Saturday, March 28, from 12 noon until 9:30 p.m. or the food runs out. The cost is $8 per plate. There will be pickin’ and grinnin’ all day and musicians are encouraged to play in the yard (acoustic only outdoors). For information or to make a donation call 770-380-1935.

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