Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The blogmaster's Top Ten Welk moments of the decade

The 2000s are almost to a close, man it only seems like yesterday when we rang in the year 2000 on January 1st. Back then I was just a senior in college, working on my bachelor's degree.

I did watch the Lawrence Welk Show reruns on PBS, taping them on yes....VHS tapes. Also, I was just about to harness the power of the Internet, little did I know that by decade's end, how powerful it would be.

As the second decade of the 21st century dawns, we'll countdown the top ten Lawrence Welk moments that had a personal and long lasting influence on yours truly.

10. Four Wunnerful Women in Toledo (May 2002)

This was my very first Welk concert, it's kinda like your first'll never forget it. I just joined the Welknotes Yahoo! Group few months earlier and was able to go to the show on tickets I got as a Christmas gift. What a day at the Valentine Theatre, I got to see perform and meet Gail Farrell, Ava Barber, Ralna English and Mary Lou Metzger....such wunnerful ladies!

9. Milestones & Memories pledge special (winter 2001)

Up until it aired, I was just a casual watcher....taping the occasional show on my VCR. When this very popular and groundbreaking PBS pledge special aired on WGTE, everything changed.

Who can ever forget 47 of the Music Makers all on one stage, friendly faces plus some old favorites we haven't seen in a while. The music was great, the performances were spectacular.

Kinda makes me wish I was there in Branson

I loved it so much that for the first time ever, I made a pledge to my station....and in return I got plenty of thank you gifts such as the Memory Book, framed cast picture but most importanty, it laid the foundation of bigger things to come.

8. The Live Lawrence Welk Show comes to Toledo (March 2003)

This was my second Welk concert, where I met Jack Imel, Dick Dale, Henry Cuesta, Tim Padilla and dancers Pasha and Ilona for the first time.

I also got to see Ralna, Mary Lou and Ava again. I had just started the web page three weeks earlier and this was great material to post online!

What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, this was the catalyst for future and great Live Welk Shows in Toledo for 2005 and 2007.

7. Road trip to Lancaster (July 2006)

This was my most ambitious road trip to date. I drove more than 400 miles from my home in Toledo to the Amish countryside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania where I went to see the Welk stars perform live at the American Music Theatre.

This was also the first time I saw live and got to meet stars Anacani, Arthur Duncan and Jo Ann Castle. I also got to see Guy & Ralna perform again after seeing them the first time up in Mount Pleasant the previous January.

It was there I also met good friends and fellow Welk fans Doug Minier and Louis Teller.

Here's me and Louis during intermission.

Driving the same 400 miles back was a chore, took all night...but that experience was worth it!

6. The Lennon Sisters in Columbus (July 2009)

This one was very special, it doesn't happen alot but once it take advantage. 

It was the first time in twenty years the Lennon Sisters came to Ohio for a series of concerts. One of them was in Columbus, so I thought what better way to spend a day in Ohio's Capitol City where Kathy, Janet and Mimi Lennon were scheduled to perform at the Aladdin Shrine Theater.

This was the first time I saw America's Sweethearts of Song perform live, and loved every minute of it.

And yes, Columbus is more than just the home of THE Ohio State University.

5. Forever Blowing Bubbles in South Euclid (April 2004)

The Forever Blowing Bubbles concert series was one of my personal favorites, I have seen a total of four shows, all were wunnerful and memorable but you never forget your first on that Sunday afternoon in the Spring of '04.

It was where I met the Aldridge Sisters, Sheila and Sherry for the first time.

Sheila was the very first member of the Musical Family to come into contact with me via my webpage, she liked it alot which made the upcoming trip one to look forward to.

I got to see Gail perform again, and it was the first time I met Sally and Clay Hart, Tanya Falan, Cissy King, Ken Delo, Joe Feeney and Michael Redman.

Here's Sherry with Tanya, a very nice picture if I say so....

The next three shows took place in Eastlake; in 2005, 2006 and 2008. I got to meet Clay & Sally, Sheila and Sherry, Joe, Gail, Michael and Ken again plus many more.

But it all began on that day in April, five years ago....still puts a smile to my face.

4. I join the Welknotes Yahoo! Group (March 27, 2002)

One of the best decisions I ever made, I been on Yahoo! before and heard about these online groups. There was one dedicated to the music of Lawrence Welk and his Music Makers so I decided to join. I met alot of lifelong friends there, several whom I saw live at concerts.

Folks like Judy Shaw, our fearless leader, and comrades in arms like Tracy Goodwin, Rosanne Galetta, Charles Letterman, Debbi Knight, Roger Bosley, Sam Carpenter plus many many more numerous to name who mean alot.

And as I write this, I'm still a loyal member....thanks guys for the memories.

3. Sandi, Gail and Mary Lou at Bear Creek Farms (July 2008)

I have heard of this rustic getaway out in the middle of Jay County in Indiana....where so many Welk stars have come to perform live in concert. So when I heard that the lovely trio of Sandi Griffiths, Gail Farrell and Mary Lou Metzger were to perform there, I had to go pay a visit!

The show was awesome, and the girls were super sweet. I also got to meet Sandi and her family for the first time. This would lead to later trips to Bear Creek which included a return date by the Trio in May 2009 and this past October, the Aldridge Sisters and Otwell Twins.

I am already looking forward to the next time, especially who will be on stage next.

2. My trip to Branson (September 2008)

This was the big one, the culmination of all the Welk events I've been a part of. I prepared for this vacation since January, saving my money and planning for all the events. The big one of them all was the Welk Stars Reunion Concert at the Champagne Theatre.

I spent four days and three nights at the Welk Resort, did plenty of sightseeing, caught up with old friends and saw the stars live on stage and off the stage as well!

It was also the first time I met Tom Netherton, a fine gentleman with a singing voice powerful enough to move mountains.

And I got to see the stars in the lobby, like Sherry and Sheila!

It was one of the best vacations I ever took, I can just go on and on and on talking about it....

1. The launch of Welk Musical (March 3, 2003)

It all began as a humble, crummy little Yahoo! Geocities site featuring a few scattered pictures of the Maestro, the show and his Musical Family.

Little did I know it that by decade's end, it would grow into the empire that it is today, complete with blog, and presence on both Facebook and Twitter.

And the site itself has doubled, no tripled, no quadrupled into size filled with pictures, fun facts and everything dedicated to Lawrence Welk and his Music Makers!

Today, Welk Musical Family is seen online in every corner of the planet. It's the biggest and most popular of all the Lawrence Welk webpages.

And it's you the fans and visitors that made it all possible, thank you.

Now that the Aughts come to a close, I wonder what new memories the Teens would bring.

Only time would tell.



Ncki said...

Hi JB,

Hope your new year is off to a great start. Thanks for sharing all the great stuff you been posting about the Lawrence Welk show and family/stars. I hope to see newer shows this decade as PBS allows. Have a happy and blessed 2010 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Years, JB. I enjoyed reading everything here and what a surprise to see my name.
The Lawrence Welk TV Show and its performers have certainly been a mainstay in my life and will continue to be. Thanks JB for your dedication and for helping to keep "Welk memories" out there.
For anyone interested in the WelkNotes that JB mentioned, you can check here for membership information:
Judy Shaw