THE major country event this week in the region takes place in the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on Saturday, March 6. The Grand Ladies of Country show promises to be a truly special show, featuring as it does American stars Leona Williams, Billie Jo Spears, Stella Parton and Georgette Jones as well as our own Philomena Begley. And the ladies have been more than accommodating – they have just added young country singer Nathan Carter as a special guest on the Castlebar show.
Leona Williams is without doubt one of America’s finest country singers. The ex-wife of Merle Haggard, she is a brilliant stage performer and a true natural; pure country in the truest sense of the genre.
During the last few years, Leona has enjoyed recording duets with several in the country music industry, including George Jones, Jimmy Martin, Floyd Tillman, Justin Trevino, Johnny Bush and Joe Paul Nichols among others.
In Belfast last August, I had the privilege of meeting Leona again, and she revealed that she always loves visiting Ireland. “I feel a special bond with the people over here. I love coming to Ireland and meeting the folks. They have a deep appreciation for real country music,” she told me.
“I have been in the studio recording my new album. It will be called ‘Leona Williams Bluegrass Country’. I went back and picked up some of my older songs, recorded a few standards and even added some new ones done in great bluegrass country style. I think you are going to love it … I am asking a few of my friends to join me on it, including Jean Shepard, Mac Wiseman and The Whites. It will be out in March, so be looking for it!”
Stella Parton is a younger sister of country legend Dolly Parton and has guested on numerous television shows Stateside over the years.
Georgette Jones, who did a guest spot with Nathan Carter in Claremorris some weeks ago, is daughter of George Jones and the late Tammy Wynette and is a fine country singer. She will be singing many of the songs made famous by her parents, songs that will surely resonate with the patrons.
Billie Joe Spears has been performing on the US circuit for many years. ‘Blanket on the Ground’ was an international number one in 1975. She has been to Ireland on a few occasions.
Ireland’s own Philomena Begley has been on the music scene for 45 years and is still as popular as ever. Born in Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, Philomena has recorded 25 albums and numerous singles, such as ‘Queen of the Silver Dollar’. She stole the show at the Ulster Fest in Belfast with a tremendous performance.
Tickets for this show are now on sale from the box office at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar and will also be available on the night.