'Last Call' Those Who Missed Out Have One More Chance
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
The rumors are true. The three performances Friday, April 23, through Sunday, April 25, will be the last chance for area rock 'n' roll fans to see Southern Pines musician Baxter Clement as the legendary Buddy Holly "Buddy Holly - The Concert" will be presented as a fundraiser for Moore OnStage. Clement has become closely identified with the celebrated rock 'n' roll pioneer during the past two years, portraying Buddy on stage at the Sunrise Theater and at the Cape Fear Regional Theater in Fayetteville, as well as at various charity events.
For all the classic rock 'n' roll fans who haven't seen Clement as Buddy Holly, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Clement says he is going to put away the trademark Holly eyeglasses after these three performances, with the possible exception of doing a reprise sometime in the distant future for his unborn grandchildren.
Clement grew up in the Sandhills, went to the North Carolina School of the Arts and Vanderbilt University and studied guitar abroad before spending time in New York City, playing in pit orchestras for Broadway shows and later touring with various rock bands. Returning to Southern Pines, he opened a music school and recording studio.
"I wanted to give local kids the advantages of my background and experience," he says.
"The initial production of 'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story' in 2008 was so successful that when we were considering what to present as a fundraiser, there was little doubt that a Buddy Holly concert was a perfect choice," says Cinny Beggs, executive producer of Moore OnStage. "After much cajoling, Baxter and Steven Menendez, our musical director, put their talents together, and the concert became a reality. We are so fortunate to bring these talents to theater-goers in Moore County and beyond."
Buddy Holly, born in Lubbock, Texas, as Charles Hardin Holley, shot to stardom in 1957, only to die in a plane crash two years later. Buddy, who adopted a contractual misspelling of his last name as his stage name, came from a musical family, and early on learned to play violin, piano and guitar. He has been described as "the single most creative force in early rock 'n' roll," and his works and innovations influenced his contemporaries, as well as later musicians such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
For instance, Steve Menendez mentions that John Lennon never wore his glasses on stage until he saw a video of Buddy Holly, and that Lennon and McCartney were inspired to write their own songs when they learned that Buddy had created most of his own material.
"What we are trying to accomplish with this last go-around at the Sunrise is to emulate Buddy's final concert at Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1959, as closely as we can," says Clement. "The concert is going to demonstrate what we know about Buddy as a musician and why he achieved the level of popularity that he did."
Menendez notes that this production is not a play, with the music woven into the script chronologically, but rather a re-creation of an actual Buddy Holly concert with special guests who will perform with him.
"A master of ceremonies will introduce some of the numbers and the guests, like The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, but other than that, it is going to be pure music - an authentic concert experience," he says.
Clement and Menendez say that they have included all of Holly's best-known songs in the program.
"However, we created a flow to the concert," says Clement. "We have put the music together as Buddy would have done - opening with a big smash, then pulling back to a few numbers that are a little slower and quieter, and then interspersing the guest appearances with more Buddy Holly standards, before returning to the high energy sounds that will pull the audience out of their seats and make them want more."
In addition to the appearances of The Big Bopper, as portrayed by Michael Jones, and Ryan Finley as Ritchie Valens, some surprise guests will be introduced. About 80 percent of the concert is Buddy Holly's music, which he created - a novel step in the 1950s - but all the other music presented will be from the same era, and will be played by a house band under the direction of Steve Menendez.
When queried about the length of "Buddy Holly -The Concert," Clement and Menendez both laugh.
"Probably it will last about 90 minutes, but it depends on how much fun we're having," says Menendez. "It could go on for four hours, but we will try and keep the Wagnerian aspect in check."
Clement adds, "I really wanted to perform this last time with a Buddy Holly guitar that is presently for sale at a Nashville music store. It's the instrument on which he wrote many of his songs. But then I found out the price tag - $150,000 - a little too steep for me. Anyway, the concert is going to be a nice way to say farewell!"
The three performances of "Buddy Holly - The Concert" will take place at the Sunrise Theater Friday and Saturday evenings - April 23 and 24 - at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 25 at 2 p.m.
For more information or to secure tickets for reserved seating at $40 for this special fundraiser for Moore OnStage, call (910) 692-7118. MasterCard and Visa are accepted.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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