Musicians from 15 local bands which were popular in the late 60s and early 70s will share the stage for an all-star jam session at the Emma Kelly Theater on the last Saturday in January.
The Incense and Peppermints Retro Band Show comes to the Jan Brown Anderson stage on Jan. 26. Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is $20. Contemporary artist Juliet Muldrew will warm up the crowd starting at 6:30 p.m. with the first set starting at 7 p.m.
Bands scheduled to appear are Gary Barnes and The Sundown Band, Danny Carter and Yesterday’s Sunshine, The Four Plys, The Ajax Brothers, Plum Nelly, The Barons, The Band of Gold, The Younger Brothers, The Rogues, Backstreet Society, Phaedra, Critical Mass and three versions of Wheatstone Mission. Each band will play two songs and cover popular rock, pop or soul tunes from the 1965 to 1972 timeframe. Gary Barnes and The Sundown Band, believed to be the first rock-and-roll band in Statesboro, has the honor of kicking off the fun while the award-winning Critical Mass wraps up the evening. There will also be a special song performed during the concert in memory of deceased musicians and friends.
Statesboro music legend Jerry Roberson, who was a founding member of Wheatstone Mission, is the creative genius behind the event but he remembers when the idea first was introduced to him.
“About eight years ago, Bill Whitley, who was a drummer for several Statesboro-based bands in the early 70s, approached me about having a Wheatstone Mission reunion,” remembers Roberson. “Wheatstone was a band that was formed in the late 60s by Mike Reeves, Bill Lane, Dennis Kaney and others. Over a period of five or six years, it morphed into a nine-piece ‘horn band’ that played fraternity and sorority parties at Georgia Southern as well as the infamous Flame nightclub that was located on Chandler Road.”
According to Roberson, the “large band with the large sound” played complicated songs by Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears and some great soul and rock-n-roll.
“As long as the band was going to try to have a reunion,” he said, “we decided it would be great to 'jam' some at the same time. That’s when I approached Averitt Center executive director Jamie Grady about using the Emma Kelly Theater.”
According to Grady, the gathering of musicians was made for the Emma Kelly Theater.
“When Jerry came to me about doing the show,” he said, “I could not say no. It fits so well with the mission of the Averitt Center and is a great way to celebrate the arts in our community.”
As the members of different editions of Wheatstone Mission were contacted, more and more musicians and friends from the past became interested and excited about getting involved. It wasn't long before 15 different bands were lined up for the musical get-together.
“These bands have a lot of history in this area,” said Roberson. “They played many, many ‘teen town’ dances, Elks’ Lodges, American Legion dance halls, The Flame and other local bars, private parties and so on. Wheatstone Mission, Backstreet Society, and Critical Mass were all popular at Georgia Southern around the same time. Gary Barnes had the first rock and roll band in Statesboro.”
Musicians will be coming from far and wide to get into the action.
“We have musicians coming from as far as Corpus Christi (Texas), Atlanta, Mississippi and Florida,” he said. “The Four Plys and Ajax Brothers are from Swainsboro, Plum Nelly is from Louisville, The Rogues and the Band of Gold are from Savannah and Danny Carter is from Metter. The Barons and The Younger Brothers are from Statesboro. We have lawyers, lumberjacks, car salesmen, teachers, business owners and some guys who still play music professionally. We want people to feel free to roam around, take pictures, sing along and have fun.”