MOUNT AYR – When John Overholtzer heard the Homestead Pickers were going to be in southern Iowa, he made a call to his friend Greg Bailey and asked if the band would be interested in stopping in Mount Ayr on their way through.
“I’ve known them for 20 years,” said Overholtzer. “We spent the last 20 years traveling to Branson several times a year, and, quite frankly, these guys are why we go.There’s a lot of entertainment in Branson, but we go to Silver Dollar City and camp out there during the day and watch every single one of their shows.”
Bailey agreed and Overholtzer started scrambling. He found another friend who was willing to help set up the show and started looking for a sponsor and a venue.
Ringgold County Development Corporation agreed to be sponsors with hopes to raise money for community development projects throughout the county, and the Mount Ayr United Methodist Church is providing the venue.
Bailey, who calls himself a “utility man” because of his ability to play any stringed instrument, said a Homestead Pickers show is more of a happening.
“We interact with the crowd,” said Bailey. “We talk to them. They talk back to us. None of us know what anybody is going to say next or what we’re going to play next. Most bands that you see will have a song list that tells them the songs and the order they’re going to play them in. We just play, and whatever comes to mind is the next song that we’re going to play.”
Homestead Pickers will be “happening” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mount Ayr United Methodist Church. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15 for adults and $5 for students. Children 5 and under are free.
Bailey said to expect jokes and off-the-cuff humor mixed with gospel and bluegrass music and a few surprises.
“There’s a lot of laughing and a lot of carrying on,” said Bailey. “We’ve all been in the music business for so many years — Danny likes to say ‘We’ve entertained you for so many years, now we’re here to entertain ourselves.’”
The members of Homestead Pickers, Bailey, Greg Becker, Danny Eakin and Walt Morrison, have been playing music most of their lives and are a staple at Silver Dollar City in Missouri where they play daily for 10 months out of the year.
Morrison, the newest member of the band, has been playing guitar professionally since he was 14. He and his wife have toured for the Department of Defense performing for military personnel in the Middle East and Korea.
Bailey has been playing in the Branson, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee area for more than 38 years and said he has played with some of the most famous Grand Ol’ Opry performers, including a two-year tour with Loretta Lynn. He’s been with the Homestead Pickers for 23 years.
Becker, who has played in Silver Dollar City for 44 years, plays upright bass for the band and is a champion hammered dulcimer player.
Born and raised in Booger Holler, Arkansas, Eakin is the storyteller in the group, and he also plays guitar, banjo and harmonica.
For more information on the Homestead Pickers, visit homesteadpickers.com. For information about the Mount Ayr show, call (641) 344-3150.