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Today is Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ruffin play brings back memories

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I can still remember the day I found the Patsy Cline tape in my glove compartment. When I pulled it out and I saw my grandfather’s handwriting on the cassette case’s insert, I began to cry immediately. The guilt of not having returned it before he died was weighing heavily on my heart.

Over the years I eventually forgave myself, forgot about it and moved on. I’ve now lived more of my life without him than I did with him as the grandfather who doted on his five “grandkiddies,” and it seems silly to punish myself over something he probably wasn’t angry about.

You know how irrational guilt can be, though.

A few weeks ago, I started reading a scrapbook of letters my grandfather wrote home while serving in the Army during World War II. He wrote often about listening to the radio. “You know how I love music,” he told his mother once. That was something I never knew about him and it brought me back, again, to that Patsy Cline tape. 

I have a feeling he’s long forgiven my holding on to it, but I naturally associate my memories of this and of him when I hear Patsy Cline’s music.

 (Also attached to Patsy Cline’s music is a family anecdote – one of my brothers was suspended in kindergarten for pushing a pretty girl down (whether she tried to kiss him or he was mad because he couldn’t kiss her, I can’t remember) and he spent his suspension with our family friend, Judy, who made him clean while they listened to her music – but we won’t bring that up.)

I’ll admit I was hesitant to see the Ruffin’s “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.” I was worried the performance wouldn’t meet my standards and would somehow be a let down, that the singing wouldn’t be great, but I needn’t have worried. 

Amber McCain, the woman who plays the country music legend, is, in a word, phenomenal. 

I’ll also reluctantly admit that I cried through more than half of the show. 

France Gasquet and I were discussing the show Monday morning, our watercooler talk, if you will, and she said it best: McCain is not a tall, commanding figure in person, but she has extraordinary stage presence. She takes command of that stage and draws you in.

During intermission, Gasquet’s mother, Barbara McBride, and I were chatting when her husband walked up. 

“She sounds just like Patsy Cline, doesn’t she?” Barbara asked Frank. 

“No she doesn’t, she’s better than Patsy Cline,” Frank responded.

I’m a news editor who knows nothing about critiquing music, so I’ll refrain from saying anything other than I cried through the first two songs and every song after “A Closer Walk with Thee.” 

It’s not so much that she sounds very similar to Patsy Cline, it’s that she has such amazing talent and I could feel my grandfather’s presence there with my kids and me. He would have loved this show.

It seems Tipton County loved it as well. The response was so great, and the house packed so full with each show, that its run has been extended. McCain takes another walk in Patsy’s boots Friday night at 7 and Sunday at both 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

 “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” is one of the best shows to ever hit the Ruffin stage. If you didn’t have the opportunity to catch it during its original run, please get out and do so this weekend (or go back and see it again!). 

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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