Monday, 20 October 2014

Mickey Gilley at the Poncan Theatre

Thus begins what turned out to be Bill’s Musical Tour. If I let him, every one of our vacations would be skipping between places mentioned in the lyrics of songs he grew up hearing. As it happens, I chose all but the last of our destinations, for reasons nothing to do with music.  

We went to Ponca City to see my Uncle Pat.  He happens to currently be director of this lovely old theatre there. Pat was very excited to have Mickey Gilley perform and to provide us tickets (also free popcorn and cokes - what a great thing, knowing the right people!) We knew that he would be busy with work and that we would basically be hanging out at the theatre during our visit, but that was fine by us.

I knew the name, Mickey Gilley, but had to Google it to remember why. Does anyone remember Urban Cowboy, Debra Winger and the mechanical bull? Yeah, that Mickey Gilley. I’m not a great western music fan, but I was prepared to humour my uncle.

Turns out it was actually a pretty darn good show. Gilley is 78 and recovering from a paralyzing accident – it’s a miracle he can walk, never mind perform. He sang and even did a couple of dance steps with his nurse maids back up singers, but I mostly enjoyed his narrative. He interspersed his songs with the story of his music career, told a few jokes, dropped a lot of big names and made a couple of humorous references to the famous cousins I didn't know he had: Jimmy Swaggert and Jerry Lee Lewis (amazing family, eh?) Listening to his voice, I could hear his kinship with Jerry Lee, though their music styles are quite different.

Pat marvelled that the band – all nearly as old as Gilley – set up and tore down for themselves, and he said Gilley was as nice as he could be. After the show there were photo ops and autographs on offer, also music, pictures and t-shirts for sale. 

I stayed seated and watched the band pack up. After their enormous coach pulled out – they were due to play in New Orleans the next night – we went out to dinner with Pat and some of his colleagues. It was good to see my uncle looking very contented.


Gam Kau said...

I'm not much of a Western music fan, but free popcorn will go far with me. :)
Sounds like a fun evening! Were there many fans there?

Shelley said...

The downstairs was sold out and there were some people seated upstairs. Not all the seats downstairs were filled, however. Seats were bought by corporate sponsors but then not used. Pat told me he'd changed the practice of keeping the front rows for such sponsors, as empty seats there were a dispiriting sight for the performers. Good call, I think.