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The creation of the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado brought an increased interest in live music back to the El Dorado scene, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy the demand for live music and entertainment on a regular basis, especially country music.

As a result of the demand and interest in live country music, a group of people in El Dorado got together and formed The Boomtown Opry. B J Kyle, who is from the Magnolia area, was hired as the music director. B J is well known in the region due to a lifetime of musical performances that began when he was seven years old at the Columbia County Hayride. His success at the Hayride led to him gaining recognition and becoming one of the young stars in Branson, Mo., where he performed in several shows before moving on to the capital of country music in Nashville, Tn. B J played with many of the great names in country music such as Craig Morgan during his tenure in Nashville.

B J had come back home from Nashville a couple of years earlier to further his education and was available even though he maintained a busy schedule. He was hired and put in charge of music at The Boomtown Opry due to his lifetime of experience in the music industry and his talent as a musician. In you’ve never seen B J play the keyboards and sing, you owe it to yourself to remedy that situation.

From the very first time I heard about the formation of the Boomtown Opry, I wanted to go see a show. Well, I finally got to see their January show, and to say I was glad I did is an understatement. It was awesome. The show included music and singing, but also had comedy interspersed to give it a Branson feel.

As my wife and I were waiting for the show to begin, we ran into several people we knew and were able to visit with them before the show began. We also discovered that two other Magnolia area residents were playing in the Boomtown Opry band. Andy Ray was on the drums and Willie Glover on the lead guitar. It was nice to see even more folks from home playing there. And we also knew how talented these two guys were as we’d seen them perform in the past. The Boomtown Opry really has a feel of home due to all the Magnolia connections.

It just so happened that this night’s performance would be The Legend’s Show. We didn’t know this when we went, but let’s just say it worked out great for us. And it featured some legendary performances, beginning with B J Kyle on the keyboards playing the part of legend Jerry Lee Lewis. His rendition of the Lewis hit “Whole Lota Shakin’” brought the house down. I’ve seen B J perform many times over the years, but his keyboard work on this song was unbelievable, and I don’t even see how it was possible. Then he played and sang “Great Balls of Fire” a little later in the program, and boom, he did it again. Amazing is the word that comes to mind.

The legends were well represented this night at the Boomtown Opry. April Sanders, a young lady from Longview, Texas, was present to emulate the great Patsy Cline, and she did a great job of bringing that legendary voice back for us to enjoy. I know, I’m crazy. About Patsy Cline’s music, and always have been.

Josh Davis showed his versatility by performing the music of legends Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and best of all, Elvis. That he could credibly perform music from this wide variety of legendary music stars is evidence of his talent.

As we were leaving, all I could think about was how good this show turned out to be. What a show, and what a band, I thought to myself. “I’ll be back” was the next thought that entered my mind. I’ve spent a whole lot more money to see a music concert and got a whole lot less out of it.

On the way home from El Dorado, we were talking about live music and the Columbia County Hayride came up in the conversation. We hadn’t been there in a while, and the show we had just seen jumpstarted a desire to go to the Hayride and see what was going on there.

We didn’t have to wait long. The very next weekend was the scheduled time for the Hayride, so we made plans to go. Johnny Sprayberry had a regular lineup of local music and vocal talent at the Hayride which included B J Kyle. He also had some guests there to provide additional music and singing, including a steel guitar player from Dierks and Courtney Taylor, a young lady from the Magnolia area.

Courtney showed out is the best way for me to describe her performances. She has a powerful voice and was able to bring the classic songs she sang back to life and then some as she gave them her personal touch. I know I was impressed and will look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

Johnny and his granddaughter also performed a couple of songs together, which gave the Hayride a fun and family flavor. Other regulars included Zane Glasscock on lead guitar, Dennis Minor on acoustic guitar, and Tammy Fogle was there to provide backup and lead singing.

The Columbia County Hayride will be celebrating its 48th Year Anniversary soon, and the longevity of the Hayride proves its popularity in the local community. It’s a great place to go and hear live music in a family atmosphere, visit with friends, experience performances from people you had no idea were that good, and to just have fun.

I know this, I’ll be at the next show I can possibly attend. As we were leaving, I had another one of those “I’ve spent so much more money to see so much less” type of feelings. I hope to see you there.

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