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La Veta’s Open Mic Night

By William Beverly, Ph.D.

LA VETA-  From whence did they come?  As the MC told the pleased audience in the packed room, “You are a truly amazing audience – compared to anywhere!”  Yet it was also an evening of diverse and rich talents.

    The evening began with some Latin dance troop exercises provided by Dorothy Mihanovich, Floydene Hopkins, and Jerry and Marlene Skrzynear who soon traded in their marracas for cowboy hats and step-dancing.  I was informed that I too could get some exercise if I showed up on Friday mornings with three dollars.

    This was followed by Chip and Chuck with comedic high-brow pros and proper pauses and punctuation a la hambone.  e. e. cummings poetry was recited, and “Who (really) Knows if the Moon’s a Balloon?”

    Following exercises and laughs, Helen Hill sang, “Dark Eyed Molly” by Eva Cassidy, “Gulf Coast Highway” by Emmylou Harris, “April Come She Will” by Simon and Garfunkel: “April come she will …  September I remember a love once new has now grown old.”

    Multitalented Ben Zeller read a captivating passage from his “hopefully soon-to-be-published” work, Ghost Dancer.  According to biographical information available at:, “Besides being author of The Coordinator and Firedamp, Ben Zeller has been and is, among other things, poet, movie and theater actor, playright, film production designer and art and construction coordinator.”  Ben’s website states: “Bill Fegan′s Kaleidoscope Players has had his plays such as Some Die From Drinking Water and Back to the Hat Factory produced, and has acted and worked in the Art and Construction departments of numerous films, including Dances With Wolves, Wyatt Earp, Medicine Man, McHale′s Navy, Fool for Love and Silent Tongue.”

    As if the show was just getting started, familiar local cowboy, Dennis Rains, softly sang traditional country tunes.  Hank Locklin’s “Maple on the Hill” seemed to choke everyone up a bit.  But then Rains, in real deal style, belted out Gene Autry’s “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” as the audience sang along and cheered him on.

    Introduced as “La Veta’s favorite physical therapist,” Jytte Evelyn Hale-helps recited poetry to a seemingly spellbound audience.  And Jay Jenkins entertained the crowd whist laughing most of the way through his once-per-year solo performance.  It was a hoot!  In the midst of this, Peter Munford presented an hilarious prose piece, “How come my dog don’t bark when you come around?”

    Then, as if to start yet another full show, accomplished Indie performer, veteran songwriter and recording artist, Jill Whitmore brought to life the awesome Steinway piano that was previously hiding off stage and played “The Meaning of Life after Mass” by Rickie Lee Jones.  Then Jill followed this with a tear-dropping ballad dedicated to people who had recently passed away.

    Clark Dimond shared his talents and laughs with a comical version of hard-rock, metal super-hit, “Love Hurts.”

    And this La Veta Open Mic Night was capped off with some pretty impressive jazz guitars by Simple Twist of Fate, a threesome including Steve Hohn (guitar and vocal), Phillip Marshall (lead guitar), and Mason Lykins (bass).  Clearly, elder Hohn could jam and sing in a big way; but it was for the generous sake of the teens that he introduced their next song and walked off stage.

    As youngsters Phillip and Mason impressed onlookers by performing a well-composed, sophisticated, and original arrangement, I was reminded of long ago blue memories, smoky basement jam sessions with friends, and moments that might never again return.

    Two more La Veta Open Mic Nights are slated for this season on the first and third Fridays of May (7th and 21st).  Ya’ll come back now!