Welcome to the Southern Illinois Productions Website
Updated April 25, 2013
By Dow Smith
Well I can tell you
the 2013 Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show was a huge success!
Nearly 2000 people attended over the three day event. We had visitors from as far away as Canada, Norway and Denmark. The sound was superior. The steel players were excellent. The local players continue to amaze me. The quality of their talent is super. The professional players are among the best steel guitar players in the world.
This year’s stage backup bands were top of the line. The local players Jeff Stoffel on drums, Peggy Bode on keys, Bill Toler on bass, Terry Smith on guitar, Dennis Stroughmatt on fiddle, Donnie Lampley on bass, Tommy Miller on drums and Mark Fitch on drums did a superb job of backing the local steel players and providing music for the talent contest. And yes I got to play and sing too!
For Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening shows Ric Boyer a superb bassist from Nashville TN, and Dina Johnson a great drummer from Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry band joined locals Terry Smith (Fairfield), Peggy Bode (Belleville area) and Dennis Stroughmatt (Albion) to become one of the best bands ever! They worked together like they had been playing together for years. Terry Smith dazzled us with licks reminiscent of Roy Nichols and Don Rich and original licks like I’ve never heard before. Dennis Stroughmatt played top notch fiddle all three days and knocked our socks off when he sang. Peggy Bode played keyboard like she was born in a country band. The right lick at the right time!
Ron Head as Master of Ceremonies led the whole ordeal with humor and professionalism. Ron is a great performer and belts out country songs with the voice of an Irish tenor! His acapello renditions of the National Anthem were awe inspiring.
The Thursday night singing contest was a big success, having participants from as far away as Canada. The first place winner, Dee Schnautze of Texico, IL sang the gospel favorite “I’ll fly away” and won the votes of our Judges. She took home a handsome trophy and $250 bucks! She also came back on Saturday night to sing with Russ Hicks (18 yr veteran of the Hee Haw show) on steel and our hybrid Southern Illinois / Nashville Band. the judges awarded trophies to the top five singers. The Singing context was sponsored by Pheasant Hollow Winery of Whittington, IL. www.pheasanthollowwinery.com
The fabulous Joe Wright turned in an over-the-top performances Friday and Saturday evenings. Mike Sweeney knocked our socks off. Both Rose Sinclair and Herb Steiner brought us to a new level with their Texas-style swing and even django rheinhart's Nuages! Richard Wright, who at one time played for Frank Sinatra, played Flugelhorn with Rose!. Russ Hicks is better than ever and brought brother Roger Hicks to sing and play some bass on his segment.
Crowd favorites Leona Williams and Ron Williams returned again this year and sang all weekend with various players. Ron teamed up with the band and Mike Sigler on steel for Friday evening’s finale. Leona and the band, again with Mike Sigler on steel, closed out the show to a record crowd on Saturday night.
The highlight of the three day show was the presentation of a check in the amount of $2,500 to Ken Oakley of the Shriner’s Organization for and in support of Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals.
The Board of Southern Illinois Productions would like to extend a big thank you to Paul Miller Construction of Thompsonville, IL , our sponsors, vendors, players, contributors, to Mt. Vernon Tourism Bureau and especially to the country music and steel guitar lovers who attended this year’s show.