Friday, April 14, 2006

Marshall News Messenger Article 4/12/2006

This text is from a commentary written by Marshall News Messenger publisher Phil Latham on April 12, 2006.

When you can hear 'voices and it is a really good thing

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I was embarrassed when Christi Wright took the microphone Saturday night and announced that the Marshall original concert series "Words & Voices" was kicking off it's fourth season.

Three full years of concerts before this? How could it be that I had never been to a single one? To be sure, I had thought about it a number of times, seen acts advertised that I wanted to attend.

But, when push came to the second Saturday night of the month, I was usually doing something else. That is, when I actually remembered it in time to go. There were a few recliner Saturday nights when I remembered about the time the show would have been over.

But there is plenty of time to sit in your recliner when you get to heaven. I figure heaven is a celestial sea of pink recliners. Some people will sing in the heavenly chorus, some people will play on the heavenly harp. Me, I'm gonna sit in the heavenly pink recliner.

Saturday, though, I was determined to go and hear Wynn Varble sing. I figure Words & Voices is something like church, once you start going, it becomes a good habit.

And, amen, brother I intend to get the habit.

It is possible that, like me before Saturday, you have never heard of Wynn Varble. The name doesn't roll off your tongue like, say, Twitty.

Indeed, I didn't have the slightest idea what I would be listening to, other than I knew the focus of the entire concert series is about singer-songwriters who have "voice." The word "voice" here does not refer to the quality of the sound that comes out of the mouth, but the quality of the thoughts that come out of the brain.

Wynn Varble has "voice" the way his native Georgia has kudzu. The supply seems absolutely endless and ever-expanding.

He put that "voice" on display Saturday night and, despite his jokes about it, his voice was more than tolerable, too.

But what sets this concert series apart is that the music is all about the words. I grew up with rock'n'roll and people screaming into microphones and, well, I still like that, too. I admit it.

Over the years, though, it is people like Varble who have most attracted my attention, people whose songs mean something and if you listen you can understand just what that meaning is.

Varble played for nearly two hours and there wasn't a throw-away song in the bunch. He had come directly from a show at the Master's Golf tournament and (not surprisingly) had sold out of CDs there. I went to his Web site ( and was disappointed to see he had only one CD for sale on the site. Varble has enough good material for at least half-dozen great CDs.

Indeed, country artists from Garth Brooks to Lynn Womack to Brad Paisley have recorded his songs. Any country music fan will recognize the No. 1 song, "Have You Forgotten?" recorded by Darryl Worley and written by Worley and Varble.

Varble sang so many original songs that I found myself wondering if he was going to interrupt his set and ask us to wait while he wrote another one. I'm guessing not too many days pass in-between new songs.

And it was all right here, available in Marshall.

The problem is that there weren't many folks who were there to listen to the show.

Words & Voices is meant to be an intimate setting, and it would ruin it to have 500 people jammed in somewhere. On the other hand, at least three times the number of people could have shown up and it still would have been perfectly intimate.

This is not a money-making venture for Ms. Wright and Grady Lee, who do all the work because they love music and they love the "voice." With the number of people who show up, I'm surprised that it is not a money-losing venture.

But I'm not writing this column to drum up dollars for anyone. The fact is I realized how much I had been missing in three years of not attending these concerts and I would like to save the masses of you out there from missing a real opportunity that we have in our own city.

I should mention that the show started not with a whimper, but with a bang and the powerful singing of Katie Rae Davis from Carthage. Katie Rae is only 14 years old and I cannot guarantee that she has a "voice" yet, but, by golly, she has one heck of a singing voice. We will be hearing from this young lady and I predict that one day soon she'll be the headliner at Words & Voices and not the opening act.

These concerts happen just like clockwork, the second Saturday of every month. Get out of your recliner and come down. I promise, you will hear "voices."


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