The upcoming “Hazzard Homecoming” get-together at the Old Dominion Race Course on U.S. 211 at Ben Venue will bring together some of America’s most talented and critically acclaimed entertainers. From bluegrass to bicycle stunts, from Southern rock to “rasslin,” the best in the business are headed to “Hazzard” in Rappahannock. And now there is a an official Hazzard County Movie Premiere to boot.
BMX stunt rider Keith King is nationally known for his gravity-defying work. He recently starred in ABC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent,” and he and his team have appeared at NFL and NBA halftime shows and NASCAR and IRL races throughout the United States.
Stella Parton, the younger sister of Dolly, has carved out her own unique career as an actress, singer and musician. Her performances blend traditional folk, bluegrass and gospel music. She is also an actress, and was the first Nashville singer to act on an episode of the “Dukes of Hazzard.” Stella will also be a part of Sunday morning’s Gospel Sing, which will feature The Lewis Tradition, bluegrass gospel’s most beloved family group.
Southern rockers Silver Travis will play that infectious, hard-driving sound which made internationally famous by groups like the Allman Brothers, Leonard Skynard, and the Marshall Tucker Band. Hailing from Spartanburg, S.C., the Silver Travis Band comes to play the best “rebel rock” and “they don’t leave anything on the bus.”
Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys are royalty among those who appreciate bluegrass and Americana music. Since he and his late brother Carter started the band in 1946, “Dr. Ralph,” a member of the Grand Ol’ Opry, has played the traditional music of the Southwest Virginia mountains with an authenticity that has won fans and awards throughout the world. His work on the Coen Brothers film “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” also won him yet another prestigious Grammy. Dr. Ralph will perform on Sunday afternoon along with other bluegrass groups, including the Junior Blankenship Band and Rappahannock’s own Shenandoah Drive.
Rockabilly music is the music that launched Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash from the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis to rock and roll stardom. That sound will be represented at the festival Saturday by two acts that were there in Memphis at ground zero. Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers worked and played with Presley, Cash, Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and all of the other pioneers of country and rock and roll music. Their chart-topping hits “Red Headed Woman” and “We Wanna Boogie” on Sun Records are classic examples of the sound that greatly influenced the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Sonny and the Pacers are members of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn.
Sun Records rockabilly star Sleepy LaBeef will return to Rappahannock with his guitar and his repertoire of 6,000 songs. The New York Times says Sleepy is “a living, breathing guitar-picking history of American music”’; the Nashville Tennessean says “. . . with a six-foot-seven, 270-pound frame and a voice that can rattle windows, there are few who have ever forgotten the experience of seeing him perform.” And Nick Lowe says, “Sleepy speaks . . . liars tremble.” Mr. LaBeef will perform on Saturday and Sunday.
It will be hard to miss the Mayberry Deputy. If you think you are being given a ticket by Barney Fife because your shirt is ugly, that means you have met David Browning, whose tribute to Don Knotts as Barney has delighted audiences all over America. You’ll be proud to be “arrested and written up” by the Mayberry Deputy.
Legendary wrestling champ Jerry “The King” Lawler, will be at Hazzard Homecoming both days to defend his Hazzard County Championship Belt. He will be joined by Virginia Champion Jimmy Valiant, aka “The Boogie Woogie Man.” A number of challengers, some of ill repute, will enter the ring to take on “The King.”
The Homecoming is going to take place on historic ground at Ben Venue, on the spot where Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s men camped, and where Gen. Robert E. Lee himself stopped to pay his respects. There were also a number of cavalry skirmishes in the area. As the nation commemorates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, the event will be joined by a number of Confederate cavalry – the Flint Hill Rangers. (It is rumored that these horsemen may in fact be “grey ghosts,” men who rode with Major John Mosby and who have evaded capture and never surrendered for lo, these many years!)
On Friday, Aug. 10, there will be a Hazzard County Movie Premiere at the Theatre in Washington. The film is “Return of the Killer Shrews,” a sequel to the 1959 science fiction cult classic “The Killer Shrews.” The original starred James Best, who later played Rosco P. Coltrane in “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Best wrote, directed, and stars in the sequel, which also features John Schneider and Rick Hurst of the “Dukes” cast. The screening will be at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 (tickets at the door) and all proceeds will go to the Rappahannock Association of the Arts and the Community (RAAC).