Patty Maguire will perform “The Music of Patsy Cline” on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Rockdale Auditorium. (Special Photo)
CONYERS — Although Mark Demos’ musical tastes lean to the progressive side, he’s more than content to occasionally perform in the “countrypolitan” style made famous by the late Patsy Cline (1932-1963).
Demos and his band — known as Jubal’s Mule — will assemble Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. the Rockdale County Auditorium to back vocalist Patty Maguire for “The Music of Patsy Cline.” This won’t be the first time the bassist and several of his collaborators, including guitarist Jim Scarlett and drummer Gary Houser, have tackled the Cline canon for residents of the east metro area.
“This all started when we did ‘Always … Patsy Cline’ for the (Conyers-Rockdale) arts council several years ago,” Demos, who will also be joined on the bandstand by Russ Swindle (guitar) and Jenny Hammond (piano), said. “We’ve also played Patsy Cline’s music for a number of fundraisers, but it’s been two years since we did that.”
Maguire, a fixture on Rockdale County stages for decades, has appeared as the play’s titular character on several occasions for the New Depot Players.
Perhaps best known for hits like “Walking After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Crazy,” Cline began her career singing rustic country and eventually transitioned into the “easy listening” file before her tragic death in a plane crash.
Her pioneering efforts in the music business paved the way for female performers like Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee and Dottie West, and she was immortalized in the 1985 biofilm “Sweet Dreams,” starring Jessica Lange, who received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.
A working musician since the early 1970s, Demos said he became familiar with Cline’s music as a young man.
“I’m 60 years old, so I was there,” Demos quipped. “I can remember hearing her songs when I was growing up. Gary told me when he was in Texas, down there they say, ‘If you don’t like Patsy Cline, you’d better lie about it.”
Admitting that he prefers to listen to “complex, progressive music” in his spare time, Demos, who also counts membership in Jubal’s Seed & Feed (which performs original Southern Christian music) and plays in the contemporary worship band at the First Baptist Church of Conyers, said Cline’s music still resonates with the young and old.
“Her music came along at a time in history that is a lot different from now,” he said. “I sometimes wish we could dial it back to then. The songs reflected that fun and innocent period in time. And just listen to the quality of Patsy’s voice. In those days, (recording technology) was a little crude, but Patsy was something else. I could see where the quality of her voice would push her more into the pop field.”
The concert will include some 20 songs, and Demos said that when playing Cline’s music, he often wonders what might have been had her life not ended at such a young age.
“You know, her career wasn’t that long,” he said. “It’s amazing to think of what she could have done. Patsy Cline was a notch above. I think she was much more in touch with people than the celebrities of today.”
Tickets for the concert are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email email@example.com.