A Golden Celebration for Seniors
A celebration in Fort Payne isn’t complete without musicians and for the combined 50th Anniversary of Senior Center programs and Annual Health Fair for DeKalb County, residents enjoyed a performance by the band Homegrown.
Nearly 200 people participated in the Nov. 16, event held for people aged 60 and their caregivers at the VFW Fairgrounds. It was sponsored by the DeKalb County Council on Aging and the Times-Journal.
Emily McCamy, director of the DeKalb County Transportation and Council on Aging, thanked everyone for attending and highlighted each of the county’s Senior Centers in Collinsville, Crossville, Fort Payne, Fyffe, Geraldine, Ider, and Rainsville.
DeKalb County Commissioner and TARCOG Board Member Lester Black talked about the importance of services provided to seniors in the community over the years and into the future.
In addition to vision and blood pressure checks, there were 40 vendors who provided free materials and useful information. Lunch, and door prizes were provided, along with live music.
The four-member senior band has been together about four years goes by the name of Homegrown. But the band has also been called Billy Roberts and Friends, and the Good ‘Ole Boys. One time, DeKalb County Commission Chair and TARCOG Board Member Ricky Harcrow joined them with his banjo and called the group the Ball Bearings, Martin said. None of the members are overly concerned about the name, for them, it’s about the music.
They typically get together to play at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, Mayberry Days and holiday celebrations. And they were glad to help celebrate DeKalb County Council on Aging’s 50th anniversary of its Senior Centers and Rural Public Transportation.
Lifelong musician’s Billy Roberts, 76, guitarist, Jack Martin, 80, guitarist, Donnie Owen, 72, fiddler, and Kenneth Whited, 71, bass guitarist, make up the group, which plays a variety of tunes — gospel, country and a little rock ‘n roll.
Growing up in Fort Payne, it’s no surprise the band has ties to country super group Alabama as well as their own musical successes. Back in high school, Roberts played in a rock ‘n roll band with Jeff Cook. Donnie and Randy Owen are cousins, and Whited played in a rock ‘n roll band with Teddy Gentry.
Martin fondly recalls playing in an FFA Band in Scottsboro and winning third place in a district competition in the 1960s. And Owen won multiple bluegrass competitions all over the state, participated in fiddler’s conventions all over the U.S., and performed at Opryland for nine years. Whited remembers opening for Paul Harvey and being on the same Ralph Emory Show as Porter Wagner and Dolly Parton in the late 1960s.
Today, this group of men say they are happy to still be able to play and bring enjoyment to the community, no matter what age, which they did to rounds of applause at the anniversary celebration.