Classic country shines at Flag City Opry

Craig Schmidt plays the steel guitar with the band during a performance of the Flag City Opry in Edna.

Craig Schmidt plays the steel guitar with the band during a performance of the Flag City Opry in Edna.   Angeli Wright for The Victoria Advocate

EDNA - A tall, slender blond woman stands in front of the crowd, holding tight to the microphone with one hand, the other swaying with her body as she belts out a slowed-down, country-esque version of the Righteous Brothers' famed "Unchained Melody."

The crowd inside the Jackson County Services Building Auditorium, 609 N. Wells St., in downtown Edna tap their boots to the floor in rhythm, enjoying the monthly treat of classic country music.

For almost a decade, coordinators of the Flag City Opry have brought in talent from all over the U.S. to pay homage to an era they considered country music to be at its best: the '50s, '60s and '70s.

The opry, which takes place on the third Tuesday of each month, consists of Buddy Boehm on keyboards, David Waters on lead guitar, Craig Schmidt on steel guitar, Henry Hosek on fiddle, Bill Holt on bass, Randy Boyd playing rhythm guitar and Skeeter Nash on drums.

For event coordinator Charlie Kroll, classical country sound embodies the opry and that sound is what gets the artists in the door.

"That's part of the deal," he said. "If they don't sing it, then they don't get invited to play."

Kroll helped conceive the Flag City Opry at a Radio Shack in town, where he was purchasing a burner to transfer some of his old eight tracks to discs. A conversation about some of the greats, including Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold, led to the two men creating the long-standing music event in Edna.

His pristine taste for good music is what's kept the show going.

"I've never seen a bad show," Jim Clark said. Clark, who lives in Victoria County, has attended the Edna opry for the past six years with his wife and has never missed a show. "That music is outstanding."

Each show begins with a good old-fashioned meal, such as pot roast or fried chicken, and likely ends with a good ol' slice of pie. Most of the profit raised through admission and other sales is donated to the Hospice of South Texas.

"It's really going back to the people that support us," Kroll said. "I think when someone passes away, they should have someone who loves them and takes care of them, and that's what our goal is.

"Well, that and good music."



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