“Classic Country & Rock Music Festival II” will be held noon - 8 p.m., this Saturday, April 23, at the Golden Chain Theatre.
The Shaw Family Band will open this year’s festival, playing from noon - 12:30 p.m., followed by Rene Emilio (12:30 - 2 p.m.), the country group Brimstone (2 - 5:30 p.m.), along with dozens of California country music legends such as the Mountain Area’s own RockTherapy (5:30 - 6:30 p.m.) featuring Bill Samuelson on lead guitar and vocalist Jolinda Thomas, and The Bryan Vickers Band (6:30 - 8 p.m.).
Oakhurst businessman and long time Golden Chain Theatre supporter Rick Slayton is coordinating the entertainment for the festival, and says it will be the musical event of the year in the Mountain Area.
“I’m inspired to organize this festival because it’s an opportunity to bring back classic country music to our Mountain Area, and provide country and rock music fans a special eight-hour event,” Slayton said. “The festival will reunite many classic country musicians. and at the same time benefit the Golden Chain Theatre. All the bands and musicians are donating their talents for this event in tribute to country music legends Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and 100% of the proceeds including ticket and food and beverage sales is going to the theater.”
Sarah Persson, president of the Golden Chain Theatre, is excited about the festival.
“The Golden Chain Theatre is proud to be hosting this fundraising concert,” Persson said. “This remarkable and rare event will showcase and salute several generations of the Valley’s best musicians. It will be a totally unique experience.”
Legend musicians performing 2 - 5:30 p.m. include Hughie Smith, Obie Noonkester, Cubbie Slayton, Paul Dobbs, Jimmy Philips, Don Knight, Chuck James, Tony Henderson, Shirley Custer, James Holly, Mickie Finn, Patricia Contreras, Ed Shelton, and many more.
Fiddle and piano player Smith has been playing music since he was 4. In the late 60s, he was a regular at the Blackboard nightclub in Bakersfield, has played on The Jimmy Thomason television show, and has played with Cousin Herb Hanson & the Trading Post Gang with fellow musician and Oakhurst resident Cubbie Slayton.
Now 83, Smith has been named the California State Fiddling champion in 1980, 83, and 89, and the Senior National Champion in 1994, 95, 96, and again in 2001.
Noonkester started playing steel guitar when he was in the eighth grade. He moved to Coarsegold in 1972 with his wife Nancy. During his musical career, he was a member of the popular T. Texas Tyler Band in the 1950s and has played with country legends Ray Price, Roger Miller, Johnny Russell, Cubbie Slayton, Dave Stogner, Bob Teague, Wayne Hill, Dave Jones, Chuck James, Huey Smith and Tony Henderson.
Noonkester fondly remembers playing at the now gone Snowline, Coarsegold Inn, Broken Bit, Old Barn, and just about every dance hall in the Central Valley. Noonkester and Cubbie Slayton were inducted into the Country and Western Swing Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2006 respectively, and they both continue to entertain audiences at various community events in recent years.
Cubbie bought his first acoustic guitar from Montgomery Wards when he was 14. Early in his career, he learned to play with a volume pedal, which could make his guitar sound like a steel guitar. During his long career, he has played with many of country music’s biggest legends, including the late great Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Billy Mize and Waylon Jennings.
Rick Slayton, son of Cubbie, grew up listening to his father and fellow musicians perform. He began playing drums at the age of 4 and played his first professional job in 1972 with the late-great fiddler/singer Dave Stogner.
“These country legends are well-known in country music circles throughout Central California and beyond, and it’s amazing they are all coming together for this event in Oakhurst,” Rick Slayton said.
The Bryan Vickers Band plays familiar sounds with a unique and modern edge.
The three young men blend elements of rock, funk, blues, and soul with a modern feel. Quetzal “Que” Andrade’s exciting drum acrobatics and his older brother Quetzal Emanuel Andrade’s bass and keyboard provide the perfect backdrop for the versatile guitar playing and bluesy rock vocals of Vickers.
The Andrade brothers obtained their music degrees from Fresno State. Uriel is the music director at Mendota High School and brother Emanuel is the music director at Mendota Middle School.
Masters of ceremonies for the event are Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler and country music singer/drummer Don Knight.
A no host bar will be available during the festival, and pulled pork sandwiches will be available for dinner.
A limited number of tickets for the all-day event are $20 in advance or $25 at the door - $15 for children, and active military. Purchase online at goldenchaintheatre.org, or at the Golden Chain Theatre Box Office (42130 Highway 41).
Sponsors include Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, Western Sierra Nursery, Oakhurst Giftworks, Pizza Factory, and Paul Everts RV.
Details: Golden Chain Theatre, (559) 683-7112, bryanvickersband.com.