February 25 was a heart-breaking day for lovers of the blues.
Mark Sallings, singer, harp player and bandleader for the Famous Unknowns was killed in a tragic auto accident near Memphis.
Sallings will be forever missed, but his music and memory will live forever on.
Jamie Denton and Scott Shipley, along with a host of world-class pickers, are making sure that Sallings' legacy is not forgotten.
On June 12 and 13, the Avenue Theatre in West Plains will rock like it has never rocked before.
The venerable 325-seat landmark on Washington Avenue in West Plains will play host to the Ozarks Homecoming/Mark Sallings Memorial Concert, a two-night event, with all proceeds benefiting the MusiCares Foundation.
MusiCares was established in 1989 as a place for musicians to turn to in times of financial, medical or personal crisis.
Friday night June 12 has been designated as country/bluegrass/gospel night.
Headlining this show will be West Plains' own Jan Howard, a country music legend if there ever was.
Other performers scheduled to appear include: Don Deal, Bill Virdon, Robert Bowlin, Tim Crouch, Stan Hitchcock, Curtis Burch, Kevin Owens, Mike Collins, Robert Collins, Robby Springfield, Doug Deforest, Earl Lett, Barry Hall, Rick Cochran, Dwayne Friend, Scott Shipley, Duke McIntosh, Dan Duncan, Dennis Crider, Roger Williams, Bourbon Street, The Ozark Ramblers, Stan Watson & Restoring Hope, Alia Grace, Bert Smith, Nick Wiggs, Hubert Holman, Mike Shannon, Dewitt "Scotty" Scott, Marc Kunkel, Brian Zonn, Markus Stadler, Down Home String Band (with members of Big Growl & The Fuzz, Sugarbear and the Sharp County Band), Bradley Allen Butts, Wow, Darrell & Rosie Plummer, Art Bell, Bea Rhodes, Gary Due and Greg Perkins.
As if that's not enough, Saturday June 13 is blues/rock night and headlining this bill is legendary Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Steve (The Colonel) Cropper, a native of Willow Springs.
Also on the bill Saturday night: Supe Granda (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), David Lynn Jones, Sandy Sallings, The Famous Unknowns, KW Turnbow, The Hoglens, Midge Pickett, Scott Shipley & Snake Oil, Marc Kunkel, Earl Lett, Bourbon Street, Catch The Bear, Gary Coffey Band, Carl Spivey, Kim Amyx, Randall Gower, Carrie Beason & Big Mo, John Fenske, Markus Stadler, The Underground Blues Division, Elijah Sound, Bradley Allen Butts, Brian Zonn, Kevin Owens, Alter Ego, Pair Of Aces and Greg Perkins.
According to Denton, who plays in Bourbon Street, the concerts really are a homecoming.
"Scott (Shipley) plays a show at the Avenue every year and of course Jan Howard has her homecoming show," he said. "So it just made sense to combine all this into an unforgettable two evenings of entertainment, all for a very worthy cause."
Show times for both nights start at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at West Plains Music, 18 Court Square, West Plains (call 417-256-2216 or 1-800-283-9430).
Ticket prices, per night are: $10 for balcony seating; $15, $20 or $25 for reserved seating.
As would be expected of an event of this magnitude, tickets are going fast. Tickets went on sale June 3 and according to Denton, over 100 were sold on the first day.
"People really won't want to miss out on this," said Denton. "That's a lot talent and a good portion of the people playing having ties to the Ozarks. We hope to make this an annual event."