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Baby Boomer Concert this weekend

For the 16th year in a row, local musicians will be taking the stage at the Centene Center in Farmington this weekend to perform some of pop music’s greatest hits just as they were originally played.

Dr. Kevin White, organizer of the Baby Boomer Reunion Concert and Music Department Chair at Mineral Area College said the concert was first held to “break in” the newly-constructed Centene Center in 2003 and has grown since then.

“Sixteen years ago, they built the Centene Performing Arts Center adjoined to the Civic Center and water park,” White said. “Since I was over at the college and the chair of the music department, they invited me over and gave me a tour in the spring when it was completed.

“I was talking with the director then and I said, ‘You know, when this opens up in the fall, your first concert should just be local musicians. That would be really something if the first performance wasn’t a professional group, but just a bunch of local musicians from all different styles.’ He liked that idea and we decided to put together a show to bring together musicians from all different styles—church musicians, barn musicians, teachers, students and things like that.”

The first year of the concert, White said it was decided to perform the music of the band Chicago, as they have produced a great many hits that feature a variety of vocal parts and horn instrumentation. That first year, White said about one-third of the Centene Center’s seating was filled. In the weeks and months following the concert, White began receiving phone calls from folks asking that the concert return again.

“It’s grown from one show that would sell out almost immediately,” White said. “We added a Friday night show, then after two years the Friday night show started selling out immediately too. Then three years ago we added a Saturday matinee. It takes away from our Friday and Saturday night show, but it looks like now we’re close to selling out all three shows this year.”

As far as the musicians that take part in the performance, they must all either currently live in the area or have been originally from the area. The music selected for performance comes from between the years 1955 (the first year of the pop chart) to 1984 and must tie in to each year’s theme. This year’s theme is “What’s in a Name?” which hearkens to a Shakespearean quote from Romeo and Juliet. The title of every song performed this year includes a personal name.

More than just performing “cover” versions of the songs that are close to the original song, White painstakingly transcribes every part for every instrument for each song, a task which takes the majority of the year to accomplish. He describes the show as being similar to an “all-star game,” in that each song will see musicians rotating in and out throughout the night.

The performers are made up of approximately 50 local musicians—25 instrumentalists and 25 vocalists. Even more impressive than the feat of transcribing all of the musical parts or corralling 50 musicians is the fact performers generally only get one rehearsal before the concerts begin.

“We just get one rehearsal and we can pretty much do each song one time,” White said. “I write all the music and send it out in PDF by email with mp3s. Everybody practices on their own beforehand.”

After narrowing the song criteria for the year’s theme, White said he had approximately 800 songs to select from in further refining the set list to the final (approximately) 30 feature songs.

“It’s a big show,” White said. “You definitely get your money’s worth. The price is the same as it always was, $12. We do two big sets with an intermission in the middle and we go for around 30 feature songs with 24 featured vocalists. Then we have people like the Berry Brothers, a sister duet and a band feature that we always do. Plus a kind of comedy song that we do each year.”

With plenty of songs to interest audience members of any age, White said the concert has begun to be known outside of the immediate area as people travel to Farmington for the annual show each year.

“I’ve been there for all of them,” White said. “You can always say that this one is going to the best, but I know that this year is going to be probably the biggest and best one. The choices of music are just outstanding and I’ve noticed they’ve been more complex too. It takes longer to write it out, but we love it.”

Tickets for the 16th annual Baby Boomer Reunion Concert can be purchased by calling 756-0900. The performances will be this Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Farmington Centene Center.

Host Jason Loughary cracks a joke between songs at the 2017 Baby Boomer Reunion Concert at the Centene Center in Farmington. Tickets for this year's show are running thin, but still available.

Host Jason Loughary cracks a joke between songs at the 2017 Baby Boomer Reunion Concert at the Centene Center in Farmington. Tickets for this year’s show are running thin, but still available.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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