All bands have a story about how they got together, and most also have one about how they broke up.
Not the Country Play Boys.
The Ararat-based group will celebrate 40 years of making music together with a show Saturday night at the Eldora Ruritan Club auditorium.
“So many groups go their separate ways and don’t remain friends,” said Billy C. Smith, band spokesperson. “Friendship has always been first here.”
The band consists of Smith, (bass guitar, rhythm guitar and vocals); Craig Souther, (lead vocal, rhythm and bass guitar, fiddle); Tom Reeves, (steel guitar); Doug Reeves, (drums, lead vocals); Everette Miller, (electric guitar and vocals); Tony Atkins, (banjo).
The childhood friends were raised together and formed a band while students at Copeland Elementary School in the 1960s.
“We were always the clowns,” Smith recalled, sayitng they were who was always called upon whenever music was needed for events at school.
Each had played music since they were old enough to hold an instrument.
“Now we’re old enough we about can’t hold them,” Smith quipped.
In the 1970s the band gained notoriety opening for such music legends as Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and backing Freddy Fender.
Smith described Fender as one of the first Hispanic acts to make it big.
“He was truly a goundbreaker,” Smith said. “He was certainly good to us. It put us on the national stage. We played all over the United States.”
Their show Saturday will include a tribute to Fender.
The occasion will kick off the “Saturday Night Jam” series of concerts held monthly from September through about April to benefit the Ruritan club.
This will be the fourth year that a Country Play Boys reunion show has started the season.
“We’ve been doing the jam itself for ten years,” said Smith, a Ruritan Club member who organizes the jam.
Generally held on the fourth Saturday of each month, the concerts reflect a variety of genres leaning towards the country/bluegrass/gospel side of things.
“We try to get the best of the best of the region,” Smith said. “It’s a variety of acts, always a little bit different.”
The lineup for this fall includes Raincheck, in October, and the Dixie Dawn early next year.
Tickets are $8 with all proceeds going to the Eldora Ruritan Club.
“The Ruritan club has always been important,” Smith said. “We do a lot of community functions, a lot of benevolent things through the club.”
In addition to softball and baseball fields, the organization provides “funds for whoever is in need in our community.”
That could be anything from the sheriff’s Give A Kid A Christmas Program, victims of a fire, or scholarship programs.
“It’s just one of those really needed things in the community,” Smith said of the club. “It brings the community together.”
The Eldora Ruritan Club is located at 2078 Ararat Road, Ararat.
The auditorium seats 400, Smith said, adding: “There’s a good seat for everyone.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.