The snow-powdered roof of Hope City Hall probably levitated several inches as the performers in its Klipsch Hall Auditorium honored the man who gave the venue its name.
The concert was part of a series of events organized by the Klipsch Museum of Audio History. Executive Director Beckie Moore introduced each act.
First to the stage was a trio consisting of Jeff Smith, singer and guitarist, Jeff Madlock, bassist and Chad Morris, drummer. They got the evening to an ominous start with Phil Collins’ menacing “In the Air Tonight,” with Madlock’s bass evoking a storminess that made Chad Morris’ entrance every bit as inevitable, but still as startling as it needed to be.
The trio’s eclectic setlist included Muddy Waters’ “Mojo Working,” The Judds’ “Grandpa,” Travis Tritt’s “Where Corn Don’t Grow,” Percy Mayfield’s’ “Hit the Road, Jack,” Chris Stapleton’s “Joy of My Life,” The Outfield’s “Your Love,” Journey’s “Faithfully.” Applause convinced the group to play the encore, Brooks & Dunn’s “Red Dirt Road.” Jeff Smith’s ringing acoustic and soulful baritone (demonstrating astonishing range on “Faithfully”) were standouts, while Madlock’s bass playing was, by turns, supple and bold.
During the first intermission, Madlock said he had not performed in Klipsch since his run as Uncle Max in “The Sound of Music.” He said the Klipsch La Scalas on either side of the stage were “real clear” and “fit the room really well.” Madlock and Morris credited Smith with the often surprising inclusions in the setlist.
Just before the next act, Moore and Klipsch Museum of Audio History Curator Jim Hunter presented $1,000 to University of Arkansas-Hope Texarkana for a scholarship.
Next was Bodcaw native and keyboardist Jack Daniels performing ten Contemporary Christian songs with a series of soloists and the Garrett Memorial Baptist Church Band. Standouts were “The Goodness of God,” a song made famous by Cece Winans, in which Emma Daniels provided a tender solo, “Consider the Stars,” by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Fionán de Barra, a showcase for Katherine Daniels, whose melismas cast a winsome spell, and Donnie McClurkin’s “Total Praise,” whose dramatic gospel climaxes the ensemble infused with lifting power as ethereal lighting danced over the crowd.
After the set, Daniels complimented the venue. “It’s such an intimate, vibey room with so much of our town’s entertainment history happening within those walls since 1926. I can’t wait until the next event there.” He and Katherine saw to the lighting and soundboard work for the night.
Finally, Joe Purvis and LLC Group propelled their blues rock to the rafters, with such classics as “Mustang Sally,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Same Ol’ Blues Again,” “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and two medleys, one which merged Van Morrison’s “Brown-eyed Girl” and “Into the Mystic” and another of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny Be Good” and “Little Queenie.”
Purvis, who grew up in Hope and was in the same kindergarten class as Bill Clinton, has a day job as an attorney at Wright Lindsey Jennings, but Friday night he used the voice he has employed to argue before the US Supreme Court to belt out 60s and 70s rock with authority and elan, often touching off laughter with his between tunes patter.
By the time the show was over, the snowfall had stopped, and an audience of nearly a hundred emerged into the night warmed by the rich sound of the two Klipsch La Scalas which rendered all the playing and singing with their characteristic realism. Purvis’ request from the stage to make the Klipsch commemoration an annual event was popular in the room. I agree with him.