Gladewater Saturday Night Opry Continues After More Than A Decade - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/12/03 - Gladewater

Gladewater Saturday Night Opry Continues After More Than A Decade

"Anyone can come here and sing for the first time. This is a very gracious audience. This is one of the best audiences to do that with. I've seen a lot of singers go from here all the way to Nashville," says band member Rusti Waters.

To Nashville from Gladewater, hundreds of folks file in every Saturday Night, looking for the gem. Just who might be East Texas' new star?

"That''s the whole purpose-- to give young folks a chance to get exposed and get some experience, and variety's what I like about it. You never know what's coming up next," says drummer Vern Coldiron.

They might have the best seat in the house. The band that plays with every performer: Texas Smoke has been together in one form or another for more than a decade.

Vern: "The older folks come because they like the old songs, and the young ones come because they like the new country songs."

Then sometimes the young sing the standards, as it was when we visited. 

Rusti: "You never play the same thing the same way twice."

Warren Bradley spins the music on KYKX, but tonight he's not himself, doing impressions for the audience.

"When I [first performed here], I said I got to keep doing this on a yearly basis. They're a fantastic audience for one thing, and they appreciate the talent that's here.  I think it encourages the newcomers," he says. 

The featured performer tonight is Jennifer J. Lee. At just 18, she's been on the opry "circuit" -- as it's called -- for a couple of years.

"It's just being at the right place at the right time.  And, there could be someone that hears you.  But it's just exposure -- and it's just fun," she says. 

Warren adds: "You don't go straight to Nashville. You've got to earn that kind of stuff first, and this is a good training ground for the singers to do that."

The crowd isn't filled with talent scouts most nights.  The singers show up to sell a few CD's...  and the mostly locals just want to have a good time.

Reported by Morgan Palmer 

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