Patsy Cline's short but amazing career comes to stage
Take a musical journey back in time on Thursday, June 18, as Good Clean Fun Productions brings its traveling show, "The Music of Patsy Cline," to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre for a 7:30 p.m. show.
Featuring Cassandra Wiese as Patsy Cline, and backed by seven talented musicians known as "The Bobs" -- an homage to Cline's tradition of calling her backup band "The Bodacious Bobcats" -- the show will highlight all of the greatest hits from Cline's prolific song catalog, as well as "a few lesser known gems," said Wiese.
Sometimes, the group has even been known to take requests.
"We do know more (of Cline's ) songs than we do in the show," said Tony Ray, who serves as the drummer for The Bobs as well as the publicist for the show.
"It's amazing how many songs she did -- she was very busy for having such a short career," Wiese added. "It was just two years of her life that she was a star -- the rest of the time she was struggling (as a musician)."
So determined was Cline to be a country music star that she went on stage just a month after suffering a major car accident in 1960.
"She had to be wheeled out on stage in a wheelchair," Wiese marveled. "She stood on crutches for the whole show. I love that (live) recording -- it's amazing how much energy she had.
"That's ambition -- she knew what she wanted."
For having such a short career, Cline has stood the test of time, as the popularity of songs like "Crazy" and "Walkin' After Midnight" has continued unabated more than 50 years after her tragic death in a plane crash on March 3, 1963, just as she was beginning to reach the heights of stardom.
One reason for Cline's enduring popularity, of course, is her truly unique voice -- and "I have never heard anyone sound as close to the real Patsy Cline as Cassie does," said Ray.
Cassie & The Bobs had their beginnings in a community theater production of "Always... Patsy Cline" by the Prairie Wind Players in Barrett, Minn.
Wiese was cast as Patsy, and the seven musicians who currently accompany her in the touring show -- Jay on drums, guitarist Terry Kennedy, steel guitar player Randy Barnes, lead guitarist Steve Ahles, 15-year-old fiddle sensation Sami Steidl, guitarist/musical director Bruce Kelly and piano/accordion player Anne O'Flynn -- were the pit orchestra for the production.
"After a string of sold out performances at Roosevelt Hall, we started getting requests to do concerts," said Ray.
Though most of the requests were local at first, the group has since branched out to other parts of Minnesota and South Dakota, Wiese added.
The show can be formatted either as a formal concert or as the musical entertainment for a dance, said Ray.
"We just rearrange things a little," said Wiese, noting that the dance show is actually a little longer than the concert, which lasts roughly two hours (with a 20-minute intermission).
"We have done three hour shows," she added.
Though the group has become very familiar with Cline's hits over the past year, their musical backgrounds are actually quite different, Ray noted.
For instance, Wiese, who lives in Kensington, describes herself as "a rock singer" who has been performing in area bands for more than 20 years.
Ray himself has played with many country, blues and rock bands in the area since starting his music career in 1974. He makes his home in Barrett and serves as a promoter for Good Clean Fun Productions.
Bruce Kelly, who makes his home in Elbow Lake, brings more than 40 years of experience to the show, and serves as its musical director.
His soon-to-be wife, Anne O'Flynn, also of Elbow Lake, is an accomplished pianist and accordion player who brings to life the authentic honky tonk-style of Cline's original recordings.
Randy Barnes is a schoolteacher from Alexandria who plays both steel guitar and bass guitar and has performed with several area bands. He has also performed with the Alexandria Opry Musical and many other community musical projects.
Fiddle player Sami Steidl is currently in the midst of finishing her final two years of high school in Alexandria. Wiese describes her as "a star in the making."
Lead guitarist Steve Ahles, also a music veteran who has performed with area groups including Little Henry, lives in Milbank, S.D. He is a veteran of local community musical productions.
Tickets for the June 18 show are $15 for adults, $7.50 for students and can be purchased online at www.dlccc.org, by phone at 218-844-SHOW (7469), or at the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. until show time on performance days.