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Saturday, August 13, 2016

The "Ricky Nelson Remembered" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just took out my hearing aides and put them in my pocket.  The sound in the Mt. Gretna Playhouse was almost as unbearable as the heat and humidity on this hot summer evening.  Carol and I and friends Hal and Jeannie made a visit to the outdoor playhouse tonight to listen to the music of Ricky Nelson as performed by his twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar in what was titled "Ricky Nelson Remembered".  
The Nelsons who were the stars of Ozzie & Harriet
Our seats were in the center of the playhouse, about 20 rows from the stage.  Back in the early 1950s one of my favorite TV shows was "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  It was known back then as an American sitcom and I watched it for years in black and white.  Show starred Ozzie Nelson, as the dad, Harriet Nelson, as the mom, and David and Ricky as the sons.  What's neat is that they were a real family and played themselves on the show.  Show ran 16 years and by the end of the run Ricky was a teen idol recording star who had the chance to sing at the end of most of the weekly TV shows.  He and Elvis have been considered the two top recording performers of their era.  Eventually Ricky, whose real name was Eric Nelson, married Sharon Kristin Harmon and they had 4 children before they divorced.  
Gunnar on the left with Matthew.  This was taken from
their Facebook Page, since photos weren't allowed
at the concert tonight.
Their twin sons, born in 1967, performed the concert tonight with their drummer Scott.  As the program proclaimed: Ricky Nelson Remembered is a unique multi-media entertainment event featuring the live music of Ricky Nelson's hit songs (including "Hello Mary Lou", and "Travelin' Man", "Garden Party") preformed by Ricky's own twin sons Matthew & Gunnar and includes never before seen big screen video footage of the Nelson family with interviews from celebrities influenced by Ricky Nelson.  

It was on December 26, 1985 that Ricky Nelson and his band died in a plane crash in DeKalb, Texas as they were flying from Alabama to Dallas for a concert.  Tonight my program is being used as a fan due to the intense heat and humidity, but the performers on the stage were really heating up the crowd with their show.  The most amazing feat of tonight's concert was the fact that with just three musicians they were able to duplicate the sound of an entire band.  
One more photo from their Facebook Page
Gunnar played a fabulous lead guitar, Matthew did unbeliev- able harmoni- zations with his bass guitar and Scott filled in the background with great drum renditions.  Some of my favorites tonight from the early Ricky years were "Teenage Idol", "Travelin' Man", "Hello, Mary Lou" and "Lonesome Town", but the real hit of the evening was from Ricky's later years when the brothers sang "Garden Party" with the bass guitar being featured quite a bit.  I loved the big screen shots of the old TV show and all the Ricky remembrances, but for me the constant story telling throughout the show was too overwhelming.  I went for the music, but the narration seems to be the biggest part of the show.  Matthew and Gunnar are great performers with great musical talents and I wish I could have heard their voices more.  I would have remembered Ricky Nelson better that way. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

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