I used to be a big concert-goer in my younger days. I used to do a lot of things in my younger days that I don't do now, but I digress. I saw some great acts in my day. Willie Nelson. Three Dog Night. Steppenwolf. I stayed at Lake Spivey until four in the morning to watch Chicago perform one time. It was worth every bit of the trouble I got into - but don't tell my kids I said that. I don't want to put any ideas in their heads. They already come up with enough ways to make my hair turn gray on their own.
I almost gave up concerts, though, because I saw Elvis Presley perform in the Macon Coliseum in 1972 and I used to say that I haven't been impressed by a musical performance since. My mama, by the way, didn't like Elvis. She thought he was vulgar. My mama's opinion of Elvis really has nothing to do with today's topic, but since it is Mother's Day weekend, I thought I'd give it anyway.
Well, as I am fond of saying, I told you that to tell you this. Last Sunday evening, I saw a musical group perform in Savannah, and, well, move over Elvis. I have now, once again, been impressed. The group was Clover & Co., and they weren't vulgar at all. In fact, they were as wholesome as homemade apple pie - and a more talented group you should never hope to see.
They sang, they danced - boy howdy, did they dance; jazz, ballet, tap - they ran the gamut when it comes to dancing. Some of them played instruments. You name it and Clover & Co. did it - and did it well.
But I guess an explanation is in order before I get too carried away.
I had been invited to speak at a conference presented by the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Design. That's pretty high cotton for a little linthead boy like me. They had folks coming in from all over the country - all 50 states were represented - and they were putting on the dog. There was a big fancy dinner Sunday night to welcome everybody to the South, and after we finished eating, Mark Eason, who was in charge of the shindig, introduced the entertainment. It was the aforementioned Clover & Co. - which honesty compels me to admit, I had never heard of, even though they have been around since 1981.
It has been my loss.
Clover & Co. is a group of Georgia 4-Hers, handpicked each spring through a strenuous audition process. This year's group is 43 strong. They range in age from 10 to 18 and come from all over the state. One young lady, Mary Allison Lathem, is from Newton County. I tried to find out which one she was after the show, but wasn't able to catch up with her.
At any rate, these kids travel all over the state, too - according to a proud papa of one of the performers who happened to be seated beside me Sunday night. He said that the program changes every year and that once the kids are chosen they are given a CD of the songs they will perform and told to listen to it a gazillion times, until they have it down pat. Then they come together for a long weekend and choreograph the show, which they perform about a dozen times a year at all sorts of venues - like the National 4-H Congress, assorted conventions and conferences and celebrations or any other place people might gather who would appreciate a foot-stomping evening of high energy song and dance.
The show I saw had something for everyone - a little pop, a little soul and a little country, as well as some old-time rock and roll and a country song or two. They even had a couple of Elvis numbers in their repertoire.
Like I said, I was impressed. When I got home I did a little research and learned that the group has performed in right at a dozen states, and this year's group still has engagements to play in Kentucky and North Carolina, as well as a couple of gigs here in Georgia. I also learned that they boast some very successful alumni performers, including Jennifer Nettles of the hit country group Sugarland.
I wasn't able to discern whether the group ever does a show that is open to the general public, but I aim to find out, because I liked their style and would love to see them again - and again and again and again. I wonder if it is possible to become a groupie for a 4-H club troupe. If so, they can count me in.
And I wish my mama could have seen Clover & Co. I think she would have been impressed, too.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@aol.com.