The Lawrence Welk Show will keep a song in your heart on Feb. 12
The Stars for Saskatchewan opening concert to kick off 2011 will recognize one of music’s most influential stars when the Lawrence Welk Show plays the Sky Centre on Feb. 12. Lawrence Welk was a television mainstay for over three decades, and that timeless music is now brought back to the public by Lawrence Welk Show tour producer and former Lawrence Welk regular Mary Lou Metzger.
“I’ve told everybody to include a love song for Valentine’s Day and we’re also going to have a video tribute to Lawrence and to Myron Floren, so it’s going to be a good show.
“We’re going to do a lot of big band music and we’ve got vocals and dancing and instrumentals and a little something for everyone.”
The Lawrence Welk Show was broadcast for a total of 27 years, the longest running weekly musical variety show in the history of television, and became an era for millions.The show first aired in Los Angeles in 1951 and was signed by ABC in June of 1955. It aired on the ABC television network from July 1955 to September 1971, and in syndication from 1971 to 1982.
Welk was famous for “easy listening” arrangements of composers ranging from Elvis and The Beatles to Burt Bacharach, Hal David, The Everly Brothers and Paul Williams.
The show continues to be enjoyed by over three million viewers each week on over 270 public television stations.
The tour has assembled a memorable cast. “We have a wonderful band leader and his name is Bobby Tillery.
He assembles our band for us and they’re from the group we use when we were at the Champagne Theatre in Branson Missouri.
“We’ve got Ava Barber, our fabulous country singer, and Gail Farrell, who’s a wonderful pianist as well as vocalist, and she asked ‘Do you think they’d like it if I did Maple Leaf Rag?’
“Dick Dale will be joining us. He worked with Lawrence Welk from 1951 to 1982 - an amazing 32 years - as a featured sax player, comedian, singer and dancer; and Jack Imel, who was part of Mr. Welk’s Musical Family from 1957 to 1982.
“We have a wonderful young accordianist named Tim Padilla, who sort of reminds you of a young Lawrence Welk, because it wouldn’t be a Lawrence Welk Show without a polka and an accordion.”
Metzger will also perform. “I do a lot of the stuff from the Broadway shows, and some singing and dancing, and lots of wonderful music.”
She credits the longevity of Welk’s musical appeal to a need to recreate the memories of shared family times associated with the Welk musical era.
“Everyone has memories of families coming together with the Welk show.
And I think we’re living in times where people are hungry for that. It’s like comfort food, with past memories of good times being together.
“You’re lucky now if you can get together once a week to have the family have dinner together. Everybody’s schedules are so hectic. I think it’s kind of memories of sweet times.”
Younger audiences continue to be drawn to Welk’s music. “The way it usually happens is a younger member of the family brings a parent or grandparent to one of our concerts and they’re always surprised.
It’s so much fun, the band is so good, the music is great and they have a wonderful time.
“It is important to us to hear what our audience likes and don’t like so we can grow with them and make the changes they want. I think our crowd appreciates that. I think most people appreciate being heard.”