By Tony Parra
FLOYD — There was a thumping and sounds of guitars and vocals echoing from an old high school basketball gym in Floyd on Thursday night.
A Floyd tradition, the 55th Annual Floyd Country Jamboree, kicked off a four-day run on Thursday. Country music vocalists sang selections from Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Marty Stuart on the first night of the event, sponsored by the Floyd Lions Club.
The show began with all of the lights in the gym being turned off and the curtains flung open to reveal black and gray cowboy hats on the men and women band members of the Floyd Country Jamboree band. Some of the band members who played as the backup band for other acts were Robin Nations, Bill Rice, Ronnie Fouts, Gary Beavers, Linda Miller Brown and Audra Brown. Audra Brown of Portales is the daughter of Linda Miller Brown of Portales, who played the bass guitar.
“It’s great seeing the two or three different generations of performers,” said Mary Goff, a Floyd resident who has been attending the shows for the last 40 years. “I used to watch Linda’s mom, Freda Miller, play in the jamboree. It’s an ongoing thing for them. They’re real friendly people like Floyd people. That’s how ranchers and farmers are.”
Approximately 500 people squeezed into the old gym to watch the performers. Jill Thompson performed one of the first solo acts of the night when she sang, “Walking After Midnight,” a Patsy Cline song. Gary Modrall followed up the solo act with his rendition of a Johnny Horton country song, “Mansion You Stole.” Young Keane Brown sang “A Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.
It was the second year for Andy Mason of Portales to perform in the Floyd Country Jamboree. Mason said he plays many types of music, such as songs by Bob Dylan, The Beetles and Van Morrison. On Thursday night, Mason played a Merle Haggard song.
“It gives me an opportunity to play,” Mason said. “I’m able to travel and play on a band, but this gives me a chance to play my solo act. The opportunities are few and far between.”
It was also the second year for Theta Ainsworth to perform. However, she doesn’t worry too much about getting solo opportunities because Ainsworth is only a sixth-grader at Floyd.
“I’m a lot better prepared this year than last year,” Ainsworth said. “I’m not really stage-frightened. I like all types of music. My favorite singer is Dolly Parton.”
Dave Nash was the emcee of the show and he also performed. Nash delighted the crowd with jokes and spoke about the problem with gasoline prices because nobody is checking the oil.
“There’s some oil in Alaska, Texas and New Mexico,” Nash said. “But the dipstick is in Washington, D.C.”
The Floyd Country Jamboree will continue today and Saturday with the performances scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., with $5 admission for each day. The Jamboree will end on Sunday with the show beginning at 2 p.m. and admission is free. Sunday’s show will feature gospel country music.
“It’s definitely a huge part of Floyd,” Goff said about the jamboree. “I love it.”