Slats Klug & Friends “Sweet Magnolia”Concert Big Brothers Big Sisters
September 11

by Bill Weaver
photo by Cindy Steele

Saturday, September 11 at 8:00 p.m. is the date for this year’s Benefit Concert for Brown County Big Brothers Big Sisters featuring Slats Klug and Friends at the Brown County High School Auditorium.

“The show will be a celebration of Brown County, its history and the impact mentoring has on our youth. We are celebrating our service to the most precious resource of Brown County, our children. One-to-one mentoring is at the heart of our program that touches the lives of every member of our community as we provide mature influences that change kids’ lives,” writes Stephanie Dean, Executive Director of Brown County Big Brothers Big Sisters, Inc.

“The High School Auditorium has excellent seating and sound to make this year extra special,” she continues. “Plan to be a part of this event and help us celebrate improving the lives of Brown County’s youth. Proceeds benefit the Brown County Big Brothers Big Sisters program, a self-funded volunteer organization.”

To emphasize this commitment to children the opening act for the show will feature Brown County’s popular Sanderson family. Led by papa Jerome, the family features the violin and fiddle of sons John, 14, and Michael, 13, playing a wide range of traditional music from gypsy to bluegrass, as well as Scots, Irish and classical violin.

“They’ve lived in an atmosphere of music,” Jerome says of his children. “John started when he was three. He showed a quick aptitude so he was playing county fairs and all that by the time he was four or five. Micha, started a little bit later, he was six. Both Marie (5) and Molly (9) are studying piano. Molly’s studying violin. They both go up to the piano and pick out songs by ear. Sometimes you walk through the house you hear music coming out of this room and music coming out of that one, music coming upstairs,” he laughs.

“There’s a temptation parents can have to try to push a child for their own glory,” Jerome continues. “All along the way my wife and I have tried to say, ‘Is this what you really want to do? We’re going to try to help you stay committed but if you don’t want to do it then let us know.’ They really want to do it. We’ll see where it goes.”

This is the fourth Big Brothers Big Sisters show for Slats and Friends. “The Brown County High School is one of the best rooms I’ve played,” Slats says with enthusiasm. “The sound there is good.”

The show has also become the place where Slats debuts his latest collection of music based on Brown County characters and themes, although this years CD, Sweet Magnolia, goes somewhat beyond.

Sweet Magnolia

“I wrote Sweet Magnolia years and years ago,” he says. I never really intended to put it on a Brown County record but some people liked it and said, ‘Why don’t you record that?’ It happened enough so I thought I’d make it the title cut even though it’s not a very Brown County-like tune.” Sweet Magnolia is a Cajun-fueled return to Slats and Lauren’s Mojo Hand roots when they fronted one of Bloomington’s most popular dance bands.

Both the CD and show feature some of Brown County’s favorite musicians, including Robbie Bowden, Gordon Lowry, Kenny Strong, Mike Moody, Doug Harden, Dave Weber, and John Franz. New to the group is Frank Jones, who sings the touching and inspiring Finley and His Dog, about the hermit Finley Long, who lived his quiet life appreciating the beauty near Yellowwood Park.

“It’s like a camp song to me,” says Slats. “That sort of kids’ sweetness is there. Frank’s vocal has a lot of heart.”

“There’s an essence there of Brown County,” adds Mark Blackwell of community radio WFHB’s Rural Routes, who wrote the liner notes for the CD.

Another new song is the humorous Alice’s Shop is Bugged, featuring Lauren Robert as Nashville’s acid-tongued sweetheart, Alice Weaver.

Blackwell, who was a friend of Alice’s, endorses the song, saying to Slats, “Not having gotten to know the woman, you pegged her. Boy, you catch Alice.”

“Alice sounds like she was pretty scary if she didn’t like you,” Slats replies before bravely adding. “I would have liked to have met her.”

Other new songs include an ode to Browning Mountain, The Hill I Climb; Lily of the Valley, featuring a powerful and evocative Lauren Robert vocal; and Bottle of Tears, an anti-drinking drinking song that Blackwell says in his liner notes was “true before it was written.” It features a moving duet between Lauren Robert and John Franz. Sheriff’s Log is a good-natured tune capturing that wildly popular feature of the Brown County Democrat about the “goings on” in the county.

“The mix of songs is good,” Blackwell says. “It works real well.”

Of course there will be plenty of favorites from Slats and Friends other albums of “musical tales of Brown County’s past” to enliven the evening.

And with all of this great entertainment you get to help a worthy cause. “Our work is as elementary as putting a friend in a child’s life,” says Stephanie Dean, “and as essential as putting hope in a child’s future.”

The show is on Saturday, September 11, 8:00 p.m., at the Brown County High School Auditorium in Nashville. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door, and available at the Brown County Visitors Bureau, Lexington House, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters offices in Nashville and Bloomington.