The Smokey Mountain Ramblers are set for a major trip down memory lane this Friday night as a number of the band members return to Longford - 40 years after the night it all began.
George Kaye, Pat Ely and Tommy Higgins – the three remaining members of the original band of seven - have joined forces with a group of Sligo musicians and renowned fiddle player, Francie Lenihan, for ‘a one night only’ of dancing and pure country music that is bound to bring many Longfordians on a nostalgic trip back to the 1960s and 70s.
Managed by local band manager, Mattie Fox, The Smokey Mountain Ramblers will play the Longford Arms Hotel on Friday, October 19 next. Proceedings kick off at 9:30pm when a support band will take to the stage and this will be followed by the main attraction at 11pm.
“We have had a wonderful time regrouping,” George Kaye told the Leader at the weekend. “There are three of us left, but we have some of the finest musicians on board with us and will have a full compliment of seven on the night.”
Back in the late 1960s, The Smokey Mountain Ramblers were the first group of musicians to popularize pure country music and went on to become one of the biggest ever draws on the circuit. When the band was launched at the Longford Arms Ballroom in November 1968, it was evident that something very special had hit the music scene and the band went on to achieve great acclaim.
For Mr Kaye, 40 years on, the regrouping for the upcoming gig was a moment in time, where the stuff of dreams became reality.
“This opportunity is wonderful; coming back together as a band was something that you dream about and then suddenly it happens – just wonderful,” he added.
“We all remember different things about our time together all those years ago; the characters we met along the way; the driving – the near accidents because the roads were not as good as they are now, and often you would be driving along and the next thing there would be a herd of cattle in front of you; and of course the music and the sounds.
“The music was great and people loved it. We had a great manager in Mattie Fox; he is so committed and loves the music. We know that we will bring people back down memory lane on Friday night in Longford, whether or not we play another gig is another thing. We plan to provide a first rate show and see what the reaction is like, but it will be the people who decide if we continue on.”
A brand new single, ‘How The Years Have Flown’ written and performed by George Kaye was released in August and audiences on Friday night can expect many of the band’s hits throughout the show.