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Supernaw brings his music to Livingston

BY CHRIS EDWARDS
Contributing editor
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SupernawLIVINGSTON -- Doug Supernaw is back, yet he never really went away.

The country music hitmaker, who was a frequent presence on the charts in the early ‘90s, now hangs his hat in Livingston. The idea of a famous country music singer living right here is something that many people still can’t believe, even when they see him out in public.

Supernaw’s girlfriend Cissy Allen said that it happens all the time; people will whisper “That’s Doug Supernaw,” when they’re out and about. The couple frequent local Tex-Mex eatery Patron’s and always seems to encounter fans who are excited to meet the local legend.
The laid-back, taciturn musician said he takes it all in stride, but with a chuckle Cissy said “He loves the attention...they all do!”
Area residents have a chance to hear Supernaw at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, when he takes the stage at the Polk County Commerce Center as part of the Ogden’s Country Jubilee variety show.

While Supernaw’s name may not appear on the upper reaches of the Billboard charts these days, his name is still widely known in Texas, where music fans love hardcore country music and great songs, two things Supernaw has specialized in since his early days of playing clubs in Texas.

In his heyday, Supernaw was a triple-threat as an artist. Not only did he possess an incredible and unique voice, but he came to his major label deal with BNA Records as an accomplished guitarist and a committed, seasoned songwriter. Add to that his undeniable charisma and movie-star looks and it was a recipe for stardom.

The hits came, and his debut album Red and Rio Grande was a chart hit and was certified gold by the recording industry with sales of over 500,000 copies. Supernaw was also a top-draw on the concert circuit, as well as a critical success. A big part of Supernaw’s success was due to the type of material he recorded. He is still quick to point out that in order to succeed as an artist, one must “have great songs”. “It’s all about the song,” he said. “A great singer can sing mediocre material and nobody will really care.”

Supernaw’s prowess as a vocalist helped to breathe life into whatever songs he chose to record. Even if he didn’t write them, like in the case of his Number One hit “I Don’t Call Him Daddy,” the song became his. Supernaw might not have possessed the most technically accomplished voice or the widest range, but his tone was one of the most emotive instruments in all of music, and not just the country genre. That voice has only aged like wine. It’s even more emotive than it was before, and recently he re-recorded all of his old hits, along with two newer tunes for a collection simply titled Greatest Hits. That record will be available at Saturday night’s show. Supernaw had the release party in April at Tumbleweed’s to a sold-out crowd.

Prior to Supernaw’s major label contract, he was a top-draw in clubs around Texas and the southwest with his band the Possum Eatin’ Cowboys. His ability to succeed on his own without the help of a label, initially, was an inspiration to many of the artists who became independent successes at the turn of the millennium, such as Pat Green and Cory Morrow.

Supernaw was also a pioneer in releasing his own music without a major label deal. His fourth album, Fadin’ Renegade, was released through his own label Tack Records, a venture that he is proud of. It was a means to an end for Supernaw, as his second record deal with Giant Records disappeared after the label imploded. While the album and the label venture were unsuccessful commercially, Supernaw’s brand of “stone-cold country” still appealed to live audiences.

Supernaw pointed out that even though he was a successful live act in Texas and is cited as an influence by many of the movers and shakers of the Texas music movement, he was never a part of the Texas music scene due to his Nashville record deal. “I know all those guys,” he said. “I knew ‘em all when they were little and coming up.”

As far as advice goes for younger, up-and-coming artists who look up to him, Supernaw’s advice mirrored his own philosophy. It all goes back to great songs. It was the allure of singing (and later writing) great songs that took a long, tall Texan kid from the Houston suburbs to his first professional gig of singing with a cover band while he was attending college on a golf scholarship. Supernaw said he didn’t grow up in a musical household, but he became an ardent music fan, and was always singing.

Supernaw said that when he was coming of age, bars and clubs specialized in live music, and regular access to local and regional talent was influential. “I was a fan of a lot of local people. There was Johnny Lee, Roy Head, Gary Smith, and Mickey Gilley,” he said. Popular national acts like Elvis and the Beach Boys were also favorites of a young Doug Supernaw, along with his avowed chief influence Gene Watson.
When asked about recent artists whom he enjoys, Supernaw was hard pressed to conjure up any names. “I think that one Jamey Johnson album is the last new one I listened to all the way through,” he said. Supernaw isn’t one to criticize the oft-ballyhooed direction that popular country music has taken, though. “There’s always been pop-country and there’s always been solid country music,” he said. “It all just depends on what they [radio programmers] play on the radio. They can make or break you depending on what they say about you on the radio.” Supernaw pointed out that while radio tends to push the younger and more pop-friendly artists, there will always be an audience and a market for traditional country music.

One of the two new tracks on Supernaw’s latest collection, “The Company I Keep” is picking up some attention in a grassroots manner. Supernaw said that he wrote the song as a response to the tragedies of September 11, 2001, but the name-checking of classic country artists like George Jones and Vern Gosdin underscores the emotion in the song. The reference points are made all the more special by the fact that Supernaw knew the late legends of whom he sings. “I was with Vern Gosdin when we got the news that Keith Whitley passed,” he said.

When one talks to Supernaw, there’s a sense that the charismatic musician is the sort of fellow who could win the lottery after buying the first ticket, however he pointed out that he has known his share of troubles as well. The lengthy absence he took from the touring circuit was spent taking care of various personal affairs, and the death of his mother, who was one of his biggest supporters, also took the wind out of his sails. In the meantime, Supernaw found inspiration in an old fan of his. Cissy Allen, a longtime Livingston resident and business owner, met him in the mid-90’s at a show he played at her father’s venue (now Pontoon’s). When Supernaw came to visit friends at a crawfish boil in the same location in 2015, Cissy was reintroduced to the “undercover country music star” when a friend told her he was present.
Along with Allen’s support and some newfound inspiration, Supernaw began playing regular gigs again, and pretty soon Nashville-based producer/manager/entrepreneur BJ Mezek got him back into the recording studio. The Greatest Hits collection, recorded earlier this year, serves a two-fold purpose: it is introducing Supernaw’s music to a new generation, and also gets his classic hits back into the realm of availability, as his four albums from the 90s are all out of print. With Mezek on his team, Supernaw was also able to hit the road again, and has been playing shows around the country since the release of the record.

Allen, a huge Elvis fan, referenced the King’s classic ’68 Comeback Special when discussing Supernaw’s recent resurgence. “He came out there and played all his hits and sounded great and strong,” she said. Audiences have had a similar reaction to Supernaw’s recent performances. He plays his hits to old fans and into new ears, alike, and with that it’s evident that the classic voice, which fueled those hits on the radio “never really went anywhere.”

Ogden’s Jubilee returns to Commerce Center

LIVINGSTON -- Ogden’s Country Jubilee has announced its return to the Polk County Commerce Center Saturday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. This performance will be the ninth show Ogden’s has presented in the venue.

The owner and producer of the show is Debbie Ogden Mayes. She is a lifelong resident of Polk County who also performs in the show with her three original comedy characters.

The Ogden’s Country Jubilee band is a collection of musicians who have played for acts such as Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Gene Watson, Merle Haggard and many others. They are seasoned musicians who have chosen their families over a life on the road. Several cast members have a role in each show, but feature ever-changing acts, songs and entertainment for audience members.

The affordable and family-friendly Branson-style country, gospel and comedy variety show has entertained those in and around Polk County for more than two decades. It began in a remodeled Onalaska grocery store in September of 1994. In 2002, the show moved to the newly-remodeled Old Town Theater in Huntsville. It has performed in Woodville at the Dogwood Festival and most recently in various venues around Livingston and as a Main Street Livingston fundraiser.

This show will feature country music star Doug Supernaw. After an almost 20-year hiatus, Supernaw is back with a new release of nine re-recorded Greatest Hits, plus two new songs. He was back in the studio in January to record all songs on the album, including two of many that he penned during his break.

Ogden’s will welcome back a returning feature to the show. In the late 1950s, Dennis Ivey was taken to the World Champions Fiddlers Festival in his hometown of Crockett. Johnny Horton was performing that evening and Ivey decided that was what he wanted to do.
He joined a band and it soon began to gain popularity. He opened shows for stars like George Jones, Buck Owens, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and many more. In 1975, he found a song he really liked, “Amarillo By Morning.”

Ivey played it at performances and it became his most popular song and he would be asked to play it three or four times a night. He recorded it in 1975, nine years before George Strait put it out, but was told by disc jockeys that it was “just a local type song.” This will be the sixth performance with Ogden’s from Ivey, where he will also emcee.

As always, the show will also highlight vocalists Kari Hlavinka of Pasadena, Texas, Glenda Lynn Hundl of Pearland, Texas, Kevin Carter of Lufkin, Texas, Steve Nelson of Huntington, Texas, and Ronnie Vaughn of Madisonville.

The audience will see the regular shenanigans of U.R. Nutz and Droop. A miracle will happen, as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash make their appearance. Elva Jean is rumored to be looking for a “Long, Tall Texan.” Debbie Ogden Mayes and Brenda Ogden Kelso won’t be recognizable in their comedic antics.

The outstanding Ogden’s Country Jubilee Band, features Livingston native Rocky Coward on lead guitar, Huntington’s Steve Nelson handles the piano and vocals, and Kevin Carter from Lufkin on fiddle and vocals. Carter was recently inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame. Ronnie Vaughn will be playing steel.

The band members individually have all earned many awards and accolades in their careers as musicians and singers. Mayes has promised a nice variety of both country and gospel music.

Tickets for the show are $15, while ages 3 and under are free. They may be purchased at the Livingston City Hall, all three locations of First National Bank Livingston, Downtown Treasures, and on the day of the show, may be purchased at the Polk County Commerce Center from 3 p.m. until show time.

For more information, call Debbie Ogden Mayes at (936) 933-5852 or visit www.polkcountycommercecenter.com.

Opening Day at Livingston City Pool (Photo)

Livingston-City-PoolREADY TO COOL OFF? -- The start of summer vacation means splashing in the water for a group of young swimmers on the season’s opening day at the Livingston City Pool. The pool, located at Matthews Street Park, is open to the public Sunday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-6 p.m. Admission is $2 for ages 7 and above. Children ages 6 and under are admitted for $1.

 

Driver life-flighted to Houston

bus-wreck-2

A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries after she slammed her vehicle into the back of a Livingston school bus during morning pick up on Thursday. Details to be published in Sunday's edition of the Enterprise.

 

Annual rodeo includes new features

LIVINGSTON -- With the week-long 72nd Annual Trinity-Neches Livestock Show kicking off on Monday, plans for one of its signature events, the rodeo, call for both traditional and new activities.

The rodeo will be held on Thursday, March 9, and will open at 6 p.m. with the traditional TNLS Queen’s Contest in the Barney Wiggins Memorial Arena off South Houston Street (Hwy. 146) in Livingston.

Contestants from each Polk County FFA Chapter and the Polk County 4-H will take part in all of the rodeo event to claim the title of 2017’s First Place Rodeo Team.

One of the new attractions this year is something that organizers hope the audience will enjoy. Vern Kaylor of Jasper is scheduled to bring a couple of his mini-bucking bulls and plans call for a riding exhibition from one of Kaylor’s famous riders.

Then, for the crowd’s enjoyment, one of the Polk County agriculture teachers or county extension agents will ride one of the bulls. The rider will be determined by how much money their chapter or 4-H raise throughout the week. Those attending the livestock show throughout the week will be asked to place money in containers at the concession stand for each FFA chapter or the 4-H and the “winner” will be the group that raises the most money.

The funds raised by the event will be used to provide a scholarship to a senior participating in this year’s show.

Wrist bands for the rodeo will be sold throughout the day Thursday and at the gates starting at 5 p.m. Admission is $5.

Other events planned during the rodeo include a mutton busting for children six and younger. Registration will be prior to the start of the rodeo at the information booth by the bucking chutes.

A goat scramble also will be held for the children in the audience.

Concession workers as well as outside vendors will be on hand to offer food items.

The annual show will run through Friday, March 10, and will conclude with the annual livestock auction.

Casino Royale Gala will benefit children

Childrens-Haven-Gala2Area residents will be able to place their bets on Childrenz Haven at the 2017 Casino Royale Gala fundraiser from 6-11p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Polk County Commerce Center.

The evening will be a “whirlwind of table games” as well as live and silent auctions, a raffle, entertainment, and a steak dinner prepared and served by the Polk County Cookers.

Those attending will be invited to try their hand at Texas hold-em, Black Jack, roulette and craps. They will be able to bid silently or live for items like premier Rockets tickets, hunts, spa days, local restaurant and retail offers and of course gourmet cakes. They also may choose to stylishly sit, have a drink and people watch the action.

Three winners who end the night with the most chips will win Visa gifts cards of $2,500 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. One raffle winner will win a $3,000 gift certificate for travel and accommodations through Moore Travel.

Tickets for the event are $75 per person, $130 per couple or $650 for a table of 10. Each ticket also will include two drink tickets, $1,000 in gambling chips, a $25 raffle ticket for Moore Travel gift certificate and a steak dinner by Greg Pearson’s cooking team for each ticket purchased. Additional raffle tickets will be available at the event for $25 each or five for $100. Players can add to their chip pile for $25 per 1,000 chips.

Childrenz Haven is also seeking sponsors to offset costs. Individuals and businesses are invited to join the Williams Firm and Polk County Abstract as a Table Sponsor for $2,500, Naskila Entertainment Center as a High Roller Sponsor at $1,200; and Americare EMS/Allegiance Mobile Health and Dr. Ralph Jenke, DDS as a Glitter Ambiance Sponsor for $500.

Additionally, Veronica Cuevas, an event decorator extraordinaire, is donating her magic to transform the Commerce Center.
All proceeds will help Childrenz Haven, a Texas Child Advocacy Center, meet the increasing need for support and counseling to victims of child-abuse and their families throughout and after the legal process.

Call Childrenz Haven at (936) 327-4757 to for ticket information and to become a Casino Royale sponsor. Tickets also may be purchased online at http://www.childrenzhaven.org.