Mt. Vernon Register-News

April 23, 2014

Local group bringin' it back


MT. VERNON — — Music educator Greg Backes and a group of friends are bringing back the sounds of folk music with their new group.

"It's been so much fun," said Backes. "We're doing it just to bring the music back. You don't hear a lot of folk music any more. We just wanted to sit around, reminisce and have fun."

Bringin' it Back, Folk Revival — the name of the new group — will be holding its first public concert on May 3 as a fundraiser for Mt. Vernon City Schools Foundation. The concert will be held in the library at J.L. Buford Grade School.

"We wanted to find a large enough place where people could come and share," Backes said. "Most places are costly, and our purpose is to play just for fun. I was talking to Kevin Settle one day, and we thought that since I teach at J.L. Buford, we could perform and raise funds for the kids. I presented it to the Foundation, and they gave us the place to perform and help the foundation at the same time."

Backes said he began talking about getting some friends together to perform folk music after a trip to Phoenix, where he saw Randy Sparks and the New Christy Minstrels. Sparks, at 81 years old, formed the New Christy Minstrels in 1961. During the 1950s, Sparks was a solo musician, playing folk music and Broadway. Hits from the group include "Green, Green" "This land is Your Land," and "Today."

"I got to sit backstage with him and talk and play a little," Backes said. "They invited me to come up on stage during the concert — to go ahead and walk up while they were playing and join in, but I didn't do that."

What Backes did was start talking about the songs with his friends. Soon, the group was formed — Dennis and Mindy Bevis, Allyson Clark, Rick Hawkins, Dave and Tammy Payne, Backes and Debbie Backes.

"These songs are going to be lost if we don't keep them alive," Backes said.

As a Mt. Vernon City Schools Foundation fundraiser, the group's first concert tickets will be $5 for adults and $2 for students. Well-known favorites such as "This Land Is Your Land," American Pie," "Cotton Fields," Wagon Wheel," "Tom Dooley" and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" will be performed, among others.