Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mack Banks at the Sparta Opry

On the first Friday of each month, Mack Banks plays at the Sparta Opry in Sparta, Mississippi. For those unacquainted Mack Banks is best known for a record he cut in the 1950's of "Be-Boppin' Daddy" and "You're So Dumb" which landed him a place in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The reproduction of that record made in the 1970's can still be had for 15 or 20 bucks. The original 45 is highly sought after by collectors in part because of it's rarity (a mere 450 copies were pressed) and will set you back over a grand in good shape.

On the first Friday of October Lars and I hopped in the Toyota and made the two and a half hour drive to Sparta, taking several of Mack's 45's to ask him to sign (not including the original Be-Boppin' Daddy which is way out of my price range). We got to Sparta and located the Opry (from the south it's a left at the Sparta One-Stop and you can't miss it on the right). We started out the evening with an uncommonly good fried chicken dinner. Adult dinners at the Opry cost $8 for 6 pieces of meat, all the sides you want and a drink. Once Mack arrived we were ushered backstage to meet him before he went on at 6:00. He was charming and gracious and let loose with some autographs to boot. We were also introduced to Mack's drummer and keyboard player, Ronny and Donny Davis, who he has been playing with for over 30 years.

One of the Sparta Opry's owners told me that it all started at a chitterlings party in someone's carport in the 1980's. Everyone had so much fun eating and playing music that it became a regular event. The Opry is now housed in a new building that accommodates an audience of around 200 and has shows from 6:00 - 9:00 every Friday night. Every third Saturday of the month is a gospel show. The Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory has more information about the Opry and a good bio of Mack Banks. Also see Mack Bank's MySpace page that includes sound clips.

Here is an excerpt of Mack doing "Marie Laveau" at Sparta:

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