Alapaha Station Celebration hosts Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith

With cascading brown hair locks, Connie Smith cradles a Martin acoustic guitar for the cover of “If It Ain’t Love and Other Great Dallas Frazier Songs,” a 10-song LP issued on June 20, 1972, by RCA Victor. Containing three duets with the “There Goes My Everything” lyricist, the title cut was a No. 7 C&W hit single. The album rose to No. 14 C&W. So far Smith has accumulated only one other Top 20 C&W album — 1973’s “God Is Abundant.” Photography by Bill Grein / Sony Music Entertainment / Amazon UK

The Alapaha Station Celebration is hosting its annual festival on Saturday, November 10 with special musical guest Connie Smith. The Grand Ole Opry star will give a free headlining concert at 4 p.m. in front of Bank of Alapaha — 245 North Railroad Street — in Alapaha, Georgia.

The Country Music Hall of Famer’s hit “Once a Day” maintained a 25-year unbroken streak as the first debut single in country music history by a female artist to reach number one. Her repertoire also includes 38 Top 40 country singles including “Ain’t Had No Lovin’,” “The Hurtin’s All Over,” “I Never Once Stopped Loving You,” and “Just One Time.”

Dolly Parton once admitted of Smith’s talent, “There are only three female singers in the world — Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending.” Smith is married to fellow Americana-country music balladeer Marty Stuart.

Fusing a surefire blend of modern country, southern rock, and classic honky tonk, Douglas quintet Kason Layne is gearing up for a Smith support slot at 2:30 p.m. Kason Layne boasts Alapaha hometown fella Kyle Stone on lead vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar.

“It really means a lot to me — getting to play my hometown again and open for Connie Smith,” confirms Stone in an interview. “I saw Connie one night while sitting on the front row-center stage of the Grand Ole Opry. She’s an amazing vocalist that’s paved the way in country music for us all. I have been asked on several occasions, ‘Where is your favorite place to play?’ Number one on the list is Alapaha.”

“We have been working extremely hard in our practice house — writing new songs, practicing until I’m hoarse, everyone’s fingers are bleeding — so we are ready. I feel as if this is gonna be a show everyone will remember for the rest of their lives!” Incidentally, Stone’s big sister, powerhouse chanteuse Mendi Stone, will unleash a mini country pop set.

Also on the bill is dynamic 17-year-old multi-instrumentalist Micahlan Boney of Claxton. Adept at fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and most any stringed instrument, Boney’s debut Alapaha show will find her onstage at approximately 1:30 p.m. for an intimate solo set mixing original material and covers.

In Nashville cutting her first EP with producer Kent Wells [e.g. Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris], Boney, whose forename means “Who is like the Lord,” recently opened for Smith’s constant companion at the annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival and had the rowdy audience eating from the palm of her hand with “Rock ‘n Roll to Satisfy My Soul” plus a stunning rendition of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind,” and a drastically rearranged, sassy acoustic take of Jackie Wilson’s R&B stirrer “[Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher.”

“Whenever I’m not playing original music, I choose covers that have an unmistakable groove and are also by artists I hold dear to my heart,” explains Boney. “I recently started incorporating a loop pedal into my solo shows, and I’m very excited to work up vocal and fiddle arrangements for several tunes using the pedals. ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder and also ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys are high on my list. A medley of Led Zeppelin songs will soon be in my set list. There are some songs that I’d like to do, but the original recordings are so raw and perfect that it’s a wiser choice to leave them as they are. Elvis’s early recording of ‘Mystery Train’ and Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say’ are both examples of this.”

The Alapaha Station Celebration began in 1981 to observe the little town with a big heart’s centennial. Along with Smith, it will also have a parade, other free concerts including the Berrien Elementary Chamber Choir, arts & crafts, antique tractors and cars, and food. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m., and the theme this year is “United We Stand.”

For more information, visit the Alapaha Station Celebration’s official Facebook, email jeremylr@windstream.net, or call Becky’s Beauty Salon at 229–532–6191 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m or Bank of Alapaha at 229–532–6115 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

A captivating black and white shot used for the cover of Connie Smith’s self-titled 32nd studio album, distributed on October 6, 1998 to disappointing sales but nearly unanimous acclaim. “Connie Smith” was co-produced by Smith’s loving flame Marty Stuart, while the blonde chanteuse co-wrote nine of the record’s 10 cuts. Photography by Russ Harrington / Warner Bros. Records. / Wirth Entertainment Agency

© Jeremy Roberts, 2018. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it sincerely.

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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