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Jimmie Rodgers… Three-day event begins with bang

By Staff
JIMMIE'S BACK Jimmie Rodgers, portrayed by Britt Gully, arrives in Meridian Thursday to kick off the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival. Photo by Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
The Jimmie Rodgers Festival continues through Saturday in the Temple Theatre ballroom. Performances both nights are at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $10. For more information, call the box office at 693-5353.
Tab Benoit, headliner
Blue Mountain
Greg Crowe, headliner
Britt Gully and the Water Moccasins
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
May 4, 2001
With a triumphant arrival aboard the Amtrak Crescent, "Jimmie Rodgers" returned home to Meridian Thursday to kick off the festival that bears his name.
After exiting the train, Rodgers was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers eager to hear some tunes from the Singing Brakeman and anxious to begin a new, more musically inclusive era of the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival.
This year's format includes not only the traditional country sound often associated with Rodgers, but also blues, gospel and rock 'n' roll.
Rodgers returned after making many train stops in various parts of the South to promote the festival, which continues tonight and Saturday.
One of the most unlikely attendees at Rodgers' homecoming was Jack Harper of Arkansas, who heard the news that Rodgers would be in Meridian on the radio Thursday while traveling through town.
Harper said he made the decision to stay as Rodgers, portrayed by local musician Britt Gully, dazzled the crowd at Union Station with songs.
An estimated crowd of about 300 people also enjoyed themselves Thursday night listening to gospel groups at the Temple Theater. Performers included Annie and Kelly McRae, 2nd Mile, Liberty Quartet, the Reed Brothers Band and Tim Frith and the Gospel Echoes.
Gospel night began at 7 p.m. and festival organizers seemed pleased with the first day of activities.
Adkins admits this year's crowds may not fill all the seats in the theater, but foundation members were encouraged by the acceptance of the new format.
Tonight is "Blues Night," with Tab Benoit and Blue Mountain headlining the ticket. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Temple Theater. Tickets for tonight's performance can be purchased at Good Vibrations, The Music Emporium, the Sound Shop, the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau or the Temple Theater box office. All tickets are $10.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.