Florence, Oregon -- January 21, 2006
Vancouver, Washington -- January 28, 2006
Rehearsing at the beach house in Florence, Oregon
Minstrels teach "painless history" at the Kids'
Concert on January 20
"Original Minstrels" Randy Sparks, Igor Glenn,
Barry McGuire, Gayle Caldwell, Art Podell,
Jackie Miller Davidson and Clarence Treat
Jackie (waving) and Kathy and Chuck Cole tour
the exhibits at the Winter Folk Festival
Barry (with hair) and Becky Jo backstage at the
Florence Events Center before sound check
In concert, Florence, OR, January 21
Vancouver concert
Barry and Becky Jo help Cheryl Jacobs with
dinner before rehearsal
Minstrels go over plans for the Vancouver set list
Clarence and Becky Jo rehearse "Go, Lassie, Go"
Sound check at Peoples Church in Vancouver
In concert, Vancouver, WA, January 28
Guitarist Mason Williams (left) chats with Randy
after the performance
Jennifer Smith and Becky Jo Benson are ready to
sign autographs
Clarence Treat, John Doan and Ron Wilburne
greet fans
Barry McGuire entertains and inspires at
Peoples Church on Sunday, January 29
Sorry it’s taken so long to get out a report – it’s been a hectic time!

First, let’s go back to the Winter Folk Festival in Florence, Oregon, Jan. 21-22. Though
Cheryl and I live just a couple hundred miles away, we’ve never before attended this
very well-organized and interesting event. Boy, have we missed something! Florence is a
small, historic resort town on the central Oregon Coast. Each year it hosts the Winter Folk
Festival in the Florence Events Center, a facility of which the town is rightfully proud.
Aside from live folk music all weekend long, there are dozens of displays by folk artisans
and vendors, a pie baking contest – a whole lot of fun with a lot of nice people from all
over the Northwest.

The headline attraction this year was, of course, The New Christy Minstrels. The group
arrived in town in time for a couple of days of rehearsal before their concert on Saturday
night, January 21. On Friday, January 20, busloads of schoolchildren were brought to the
Events Center for two half-hour Kids’ Concerts by Randy and several of the Minstrels.
The group, on stage in front of a 20-foot-high mural made by the schoolkids highlighting
the historic subjects of many Sparks songs, were Randy Sparks, Becky Jo Benson,
Clarence Treat, Barry McGuire, Ron Wilburne, Chuck Cole, Linda Paul and Igor Glenn. The
kids’ teachers had previously been provided lyric sheets to the songs (including such
numbers as
Paul Bunyan and Appleseed John) in the Kids’ Concerts, so the audience
already knew the songs and joined right in! Don’t let anyone tell you that kids today
don’t relate to good folk music!

The Saturday night concert had been sold out for several weeks – and it was a smash
hit. On stage the front row was made up entirely of “original� Minstrels: (left to right
as seen by the audience) Barry McGuire, Gayle Caldwell, Randy Sparks, Jackie Miller
Davidson, Art Podell and Clarence Treat. Backing them up were Linda Paul, Todd
Hallawell, John Doan, Becky Jo Benson, Chuck Cole and Ron Wilburne (due to prior
engagements Igor Glenn had to return to Arizona before Saturday’s concert).

Among the treats in the concert was Randy’s new song, Here Comes Grimes,
celebrating Mark Twain's contemporary Absalom Grimes, who delivered the mail for
soldiers in the Civil War. But the emotional highlight of the evening was a song called
Faretheewell. John Doan wrote the music (originally titled Farewell) as a tribute to his
friend Burl Ives; and Randy later added the stirring lyrics. You can hear John play the
beautiful song on his harp guitar at John's
website; scroll down to Farewell.

The early sellout of the Florence concert led Randy to inquire whether another Northwest
concert could be arranged for the following week, for Saturday, January 28. Lo and behold
a suitable venue in Vancouver, Washington, was found on very short notice (many thanks
to the pastor and staff of Peoples Church) and arrangements were quickly made. As
Vancouver is the place where Randy first invented The New Christy Minstrels (and, by the
way, where he first heard the song
This Land Is Your Land), the Vancouver event was
dubbed the “Ramblin’ Back Home� Concert. Most of the Florence lineup were
able to arrange their schedules to fit in this additional concert. Jackie rearranged her
schedule to allow her to make the trip, but unfortunately last minute travel plans fell
through, and she could not make it. Gayle and Art had to return home due to other
commitments, and did not make the Vancouver trip.

As Randy mentioned in an earlier post, the drive from Florence to Vancouver included a
stopover at John Doan’s home in Salem. There Randy and John performed
Faretheewell to the most appreciative audience – Dorothy (Mrs. Burl) Ives, along with
guitar legend Mason Williams.

On Wednesday, January 25, Barry, Clarence, Becky Jo, Linda and Ron went to dinner at a
small café in northwest Portland, Oregon, where the evening’s entertainment was
folksinger Harris Blackwell, who had opened for The New Christy Minstrels at their recent
performance in Prescott, Arizona. As you might expect, there were Minstrels on the stage
before the evening was over!

Though the Vancouver concert had only seven days of publicity (Randy first announced it
publicly at the close of the Florence concert), a wildly enthusiastic crowd of about 250
flocked to Peoples Church for the concert. Mason Williams was among those in
attendance. We were glad to see Paul and Diane Grudis, who drove down from Centralia,
Washington, and several folks came from as far south as Salem, Oregon.

In the Vancouver lineup were Randy, Barry, Clarence, Becky Jo, Ron, Chuck, John and
Linda, joined by the lovely and talented Jennifer Smith (of Randy’s Western group â
€œThe Bear Back Riders of Americaâ€�), plus a solo by Deirdre (Mrs. John) Doan. In
addition to the usual NCM concert numbers, the set list included
Ramblin', Here Comes
Grimes, A Little Bit of Happiness, Faretheewell, The Dying Convict, Love Song to The Moon
and Freedom
.            I have to tell you, the rehearsal hall for the week (a.k.a. the Jacobsâ
€™ living room) was a rockin’ place!

The morning after the Vancouver concert, Sunday, January 29, Barry McGuire was the
guest speaker at the 11:00 AM worship service at Peoples Church. Wow!

It was an unforgettable, two-week thrill ride in the Northwest with The New Christy
Minstrels. The group has never sounded better!