MASON COUNTY — It’s that time of year again - time to find out just who will be entertaining visitors to the 51st Annual Mason County Fair in August.
The fair’s entertainment committee has put together some powerhouse bookings, including not one but two country singers who’ve had number one hits on the charts as well as the daughter of two country music legends, and one of the best Southern Gospel music groups performing today. There’s also a night devoted to the fair queen contest and popular, local entertainers.
This year’s major headliner is county singer Jerrod Niemann who will take the stage at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11. Niemann reached the top of the country charts in 2010 with the song “Lover, Lover” which was followed by “What Do You Want” going to number four. Then in 2011 his song “One More Drinking Song” went to number 13 on the charts and his latest song “Shinin’ on Me” has recently been released.
Niemann grew up in Liberal, a tiny town in west Kansas. As a child, his knowledge of music was expanded at the skating rink that his parents owned. “That’s where I got my street cred, as a seven year old, rolling in circles, looking dangerous and mysterious on eight wheels of country and western thunder,” he recalls with a laugh. “I remember skating to Queen, to Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith doing ‘Walk This Way,’ and to the Oak Ridge Boys’ ‘Elvira.’” After graduating from Liberal High School, Niemann studied music for two years at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. Then he moved to Fort Worth, Texas where he honed his songwriting and learned how to win over tough crowds in bars. He moved to Nashville, Tenn. in 2000. Today, Niemann is ready to become the full-fledged artist he always dreamed of being.
“He just has that voice that draws you into the song,” Brian Billings, director of the Mason County Fair Entertainment Committee said.
The fair’s other country singer with the number one hit (and many other familiar songs) will be Pam Tillis who takes the stage at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10. Billings said Tillis is “so exciting to watch,” calling her “one of country music’s favorite female entertainers.” Known as one of Nashville’s sweethearts, Tillis’ best known song is “Mi Vida Loca” which went to number one for her in 1995. Of course, Tillis has had many other songs that climbed the charts, including “Don’t Tell Me What To Do,” and “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Tillis also scored big with “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial” and “Shake the Sugar Tree” among many, many others.
Tillis, daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis, is also a CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and has written songs for some of the top singers in and beyond Nashville, including more than a few of her own hits. She knows what it’s like to break the platinum barrier, to top the singles charts time and again, to bask in an ovation at her induction as a member of the Opry or play in the intimate hush of the Bluebird Café. She has bathed in the lights of Broadway, posed for glamour magazine spreads, sung ballads in Bay Area bistros, batted wicked one-liners back to Tom Bergeron on Hollywood Squares, even made cameos in movies.
Then, at 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 9, the daughter of two of country music’s biggest legends will take the stage to do some singing of her own - Georgette Jones. The only child of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Georgette is following in her parents’ footsteps in trying to make a name for herself in country music. Georgette has been singing with one or both parents since the age of three. She recorded her first single with her dad, “Daddy Come Home” when she was 10 years old and performed it on an HBO special. Georgette also worked as a backup singer for her Mom. She recorded a duet with Mark McGuinn that was included on his “One Man’s Crazy” CD and has appeared on TV shows such as Crook and Chase, RFD-TV and The Grand Ole Opry. Georgette is a songwriter and member of SESAC and the CMA.
Georgette tours Ireland twice a year, where she has developed a very loyal fan base. She also tours Europe and Asia. A duet entitled “You and me and Time,” which Georgette co-wrote for her dad, was released as the first single from her dad’s latest CD, “Burn Your Playhouse Down.” In addition, Georgette has filmed a TV series entitled “Sordid Lives” starring along side Emmy award winner Leslie Jordan (Will and Grace) and many other big stars such as, Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard), Margaret Cho and others. Georgette re-recorded three of her Mom’s songs included with five songs from Olivia Newton - John in the soundtrack. More recently Georgette has recorded two cd’s with Heart of Texas Records - “A Slightly Used Woman” and “Strong Enough to Cry.”
Lovers of southern gospel music will not be forgotten at the fair when the Mark Trammell Quartet takes the stage at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 7.
“One of the best southern gospel music groups in the country today,” Billings said. “We are just elated to have these guys with us.”
For over 35 years, Trammell has been blessed to sing Gospel Music, something he says, “Evolved from a dream to a life’s call; from just singing to ministry.” Many long time observers and followers of Gospel Music consider him to be one the greatest baritone singers of all time. He has won multiple awards as a singer and producer, and has been a member of four of Gospel Music’s most acclaimed groups - The Kingsmen, The Cathedrals, Greater Vision and Gold City. For most people, just being with one of these legendary groups would be the pinnacle of a career and justification for resting on your laurels. But for Trammell now is not the time to kick back and relax. Instead, it is time to launch a new mission that focuses on evangelism through the seamless integration of Gospel Music and preaching - The Mark Trammell Quartet. Taking on the mantel of mentor, Trammell is now surrounding himself with three of the brightest young vocalists on the Gospel Music horizon. Joel Wood, Dustin Sweatman, and Pat Barker who make up the quartet.
Throughout his career, Trammell has been privileged to perform in some very prestigious venues including Radio City Music Hall, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and the South Lawn of the White House. He performed for President Jimmy Carter, and noted pastors/evangelists such as the venerable Dr. W. A. Crisswell, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Tom Eliff, Dr. Bailey Smith and others. It was on the Isle of Patmos that Trammell initially began to understand God’s call of evangelism. “For many years I literally fought the call of evangelism,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed these years of helping others fulfill their dreams while living out my own dream of being a gospel singer. But now, God has given me new dreams built on His calling on my life to combine singing and preaching as the venue warrants. I came to the realization a few years back that God doesn’t want me to be someone else. He wants me to be who He made Me to be, and that was the goal for this trio when we started and now for the quartet. We are to be ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to live, preach, and sing in such a manner that no one feels or thinks we’re trying to be something we’re not. We are to be trusted stewards of God’s blessings in our lives. We are to be faithful and obedient to God’s leadership and to administer our ministry with integrity on sound and godly principles. The bottom line is for our families to be able to say, ‘we’re glad we lived in the home of a Gospel singer.’”
In addition, a night of popular, local entertainers will take the stage on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Starting at 6 p.m., local crowd pleaser Paul Doeffinger takes the stage, followed at 7:30 p.m. by the rock and blues group Bunk Hammer and then at 9 p.m. Joey D and the Dub V’s will perform their take on today’s popular hits.
Also, at 8 p.m. Monday night, the fair queen contest takes over the stage.
The Mason County Fair remains the largest county fair in the state of West Virginia. The fair starts Aug. 6 and wraps up Aug. 11.