Country Music USA returning to Yoakum

Sonny Long

Sept. 3, 2013 at 4:03 a.m.

Jim Witte is pictured in 1993.

Jim Witte is pictured in 1993.

Looks like Jim Witte will make a Country Music USA concert for the 35th year.

"He may not be there in person, but he'll be there in spirit," said Witte's widow, Louise. "I miss him terribly."

Witte, who died in April 2012, was the monthly show's master of ceremonies for 34 years and more than 400 performances.

That run ended in July 2011 when Country Music USA was shut down.

"We had been discussing returning to an annual show for some time," said Bill Lopez, director of the Yoakum Area Chamber of Commerce. "The Rotary Club was on board as a sponsor, and it's only fitting it be a tribute to Jim Witte for all his years of service."

The show's former house band, The Country Volunteers, will be on hand.

Lopez said September is also the event's anniversary month.

About 20 acts are expected to perform on the Yoakum Community Center stage starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, he said.

"When we started making calls to people who had been on the show before, all we heard was yes," said Lopez. "We anticipate a large crowd."

Expected to perform are Jerry Bennett, from Nashville; Tim Hall; Chris Rybak; the O'Neal Brothers; Ray Goodwin; Ken Brothers and Ronnie Mason, among others.

The show is free, and donations will be accepted to the Yoakum Rotary Club Scholarship Fund.

Country Music USA has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in scholarship funds over the years, Lopez said.

Tommy Morton Jr. will serve as emcee.

A catered roast beef dinner from Werner's is $6. Serving begins at 5 p.m.

The first 1,000 people to arrive will receive a keepsake picture of Witte. A drawing to win an autographed cowboy straw hat will also be held.

Louise Witte said her husband would be pleased that the music is coming back to the community center.

"He would be very proud," she said. "He'd be happy that people still remember him. He was Mr. Country Music USA."



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