By Leilani Roberts Ott
Lights ... camera ... action!
It’s dark at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, 401 S. Third St. The building needs permanent stage lights. Jim Paul Blair and Jermaine Mondaine hope you will dig into your pockets to donate at the Country Dance Night featuring City Moon at 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the party is free but a donation of $1 to $100 or more will be appreciated, said Blair, a guitarist and vocalist of Muskogee who is part of City Moon.
Mondaine, who has played the saxophone since age 12, became executive director of OMHOF in July after serving on the board for several years.
He said he might sit in some to play with the band but his goal is to get people out and let them know what a difference stage lighting can make to the Frisco Depot stage.
“Lights offer a better experience for the performers and the audience,” Mondaine said. “We don’t want the entertainers to have to bring or borrow the lights. That’s inadequate.”
It also limits the quality of recording the singers. If the lights are not brought or borrowed, OMHOF has to rent them and that’s an added expense.
“Lights are a basic necessity to put on performances,” he said.
He and Blair want high quality stage lights to be mounted so that it is just a matter of flipping a switch.
Until the funds are raised, groups like City Moon, based in Oklahoma City, will bring lights. Blair, who is well known for his Hank Williams tribute shows, has been working with City Moon about 12 years. For Saturday’s show, band members will be Blair, vocals, guitar, banjo and bass; Virgil Bonham of Kingfisher, lead guitar and vocals; Cliff Parrett of Oklahoma City, bass guitar and vocals; Cory Wyatt of Purcell, drummer; Dana Hazzard of Cookson, fiddle; and Eddie Lienhart of Muskogee, keyboard and harmonica.
The “entertaining” band will perform Western swing, bluegrass, progressive country and classic country hits from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Blair said.
City Moon has traveled around the world including two trips to Europe as the feature act at German’s largest country music festival.
Blair and Mondaine said OMHOF had some financial struggles about a year ago closing for about a month. Following the sale of a property and financial support from the Rotary Foundation, the organization, which includes the museum and an induction ceremony, was back on target.
“We hope this makes it possible to do the enhancements we need,” Blair said.
For Blair and Mondaine, OMHOF is much more than a place to perform or a museum to honor country music legends, it’s a way to let Muskogee residents know its roots.
“This is a lot bigger than just Muskogee,” said Mondaine, who started playing saxophone while in elementary school in Muskogee. “We are nurturing it for the next generation, the next musician. There’s a craft to it.”
The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.