In the roots and country music worlds, there’s a long-standing history of holding events that border on variety shows. From the legendary Louisiana Hayride radio show that helped introduce audiences to Elvis Presley to the current corporate country vibe of the Grand Ole Opry and the never-ending NPR staple A Prairie Home Companion, there’s something about the folksy nature of the music that lends itself to a variety format.
It’s in that spirit of downhome diversity that this weekend’s Ventucky Hayride was created.
Calling himself the “instigator” of the idea and not the founder of the event, Matt Sayles of the Ventucky String Band, through a series of e-mails and conversations, got liked-minded artists, the Sideshow Preachers and Big Tweed on board, and the rough concept of the Hayride was off and running.
Initially, the vision was for a substantial event in a large venue with multiple stages and performers, but having learned firsthand, with several first-time large music events in the area recently underperforming or being canceled altogether, they wisely decided to scale it down for the initial run.
With the help of Hi Hat Entertainment, which runs the excellent music series at Yolie’s every Friday, they secured the Mexican restaurant turned part-time venue, and they are adding an additional stage so there will be no breaks in between acts save for a traditional intermission.
While there won’t be any comedians or skits to speak of, there will be an MC, raffles and what everyone seems to be buzzing about, some very special guests that organizers are keeping mum about, saying only, “You won’t be disappointed.”
Normally, such talk is a setup for a letdown, but given the circle the organizers roll with, there’s a good chance that one of those guests could be a bona fide country music celeb.
“Were combining forces,” explains the ever-energetic Sayles. “We’re sharing the weight of putting it on, but I think that that bodes well for its future. We definitely want to make it a yearly event and expand it into a full-on variety-style event, but we all agreed to focus the first one on what we know best, which is the music aspect.”
And while, sadly, there won’t be an actual hayride taking place, Sideshow Preachers head honcho Erika Harding laughingly insists, “There will be straw bales. You just can’t have an event like this without straw bales.”
The Ventucky Hayride featuring the Ventucky String Band, The Sideshow Preachers and Big Tweed takes place Saturday, Feb. 9, at Yolies, 138 W. Main St. in Ventura. Show starts at 7 p.m. and advance tickets are available by calling 641-3900.