Historic Kerr County photographs available!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jimmie Rodgers in Kerrville

Jimmie Rodgers and
Will Rogers in Kerrville,
at Blue Yodeler's Paradise
I've often wondered, as I hurtle past it in my truck, heading to work, what life was like in Blue Yodeler's Paradise, the home of Jimmie Rodgers. Jimmie Rodgers, one of the early country music recording stars, lived in Kerrville from about 1929 to 1931. His house still stands, at the intersection of Main and Jackson, high on a hill overlooking town. The house, a two story with some Spanish influences is a beauty. For as long as I can remember, it has been owned by the Crittenden family.
Tony Navarra has done more than just wonder about life in that house back when Rodgers lived there -- he's done the legwork to find out what it was really like, talking to folks around town that remember Mr. Rodgers.
Most of you know Tony from his appearances on the stage, most recently in the title role of 'The Foreigner,' which played at Schreiner College to much acclaim. He's a fun guy, and a very quick wit. I didn't realize he was also an amateur historian, working to track down folks that knew Jimmie Rodgers.
Tony has interviewed a lot of folks, and he's done it to research Mr. Rodger's life -- seems like Tony's going to combine this research into a one-man dramatic presentation, which will be staged during the upcoming Jimmie Rodgers Jubilee.
Tony came by the other day, and I got to ask him some questions about his research and the upcoming show.
"The folks I've talked were anywhere from 5 to 30 years old when Jimmie Rodgers lived in Kerrville," he told me.
The memories they shared with Tony are interesting, ranging from memories of adults who remembered seeing Rodgers in Kerrville, to memories of children who were playmates of Anita Rodgers, the daughter of the singer.
Rodgers is remembered as generous, and a bit flamboyant. One of the memories Tony related to me was of a gaggle of children being taken to San Antonio to see the circus -- riding in a "big blue chauffeur-driven limosine."
Others remember Jimmie Rodgers picking and singing in front of Pampell's -- Mr. Pampell was the RCA record dealer for the city, and Rodgers helped promote records there. Cornelia Fawcett Stehling remembers Rodgers allowing her to record a song on a recording machine up at Blue Yodeler's Paradise.
"Did Rodgers ever perform at the Arcadia?" I asked.
"He performed twice to packed houses," Tony replied quickly, a man who knows his subject.

Dr. Kathleen Hudson
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1 comment:

  1. To hear a really good rendition of the Jimmie Rodger's story and his music, I would suggest getting the CD by Merle Haggard entitled "Same Train, Different Time". It is absolutely one of my favorite albums.

    Gayle Creamer

    ReplyDelete

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