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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Ricky Nelson tribute show marks third appearance

  • “Anyone who knocks rock 'n' roll either doesn't understand it, or is prejudiced against it, or is just plain square.”
    This quote from the November 1958 issue of England's New Musical Express summed up the musical philosophy of Ricky Nelson.
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  • "Anyone who knocks rock 'n' roll either doesn't understand it, or is prejudiced against it, or is just plain square."
    This quote from the November 1958 issue of England's New Musical Express summed up the musical philosophy of Ricky Nelson.
    Nelson, who shortened his first name to "Rick" later in his career, rose from being the musically talented son on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" to become a rock-'n'-roll trailblazer from the late 1950s through the early 1970s.
    At 7 p.m. Saturday, the McPherson Opera House will present "Ricky Nelson Remembered," a music and multimedia tribute performance by Nelson's twin sons Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.
    The show, which features historical clips of Nelson, as well as interviews on Nelson's career with other artists and the Nelson brothers' own performances of their father's songs, has been through McPherson twice before.
    After their last performance, Matthew and Gunnar said the Opera House was their favorite place to play.
    "McPherson's a tradition for us," Matthew Nelson said. "It's our third time here, and it's the type of place where we can see everybody in the audience. It's a very intimate setting."
    Matthew and Gunnar are no newcomers to performing themselves, having performed their own material as the rock band Nelson through the '90s.
    "Our father was a child icon on one of the most popular TV shows of its time," Matthew Nelson said. "He was 8 years old when he started. I think being born famous gave him a real experience of melancholy. He had to fight hard to be heard beyond preconceptions."
    During his career, Rick Nelson had 43 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list, including 19 top 10 hits, many of which his sons perform during the show.
    Nelson's career included hits, such as "Poor Little Fool," a cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'," and "Be Bop Baby."
    Later in his career he left rockabilly behind and favored a country-rock sound. After being booed offstage at a 1972 Madison Square Garden concert for playing new music rather than old hits, he was inspired to write the musically soothing but lyrically scathing song "Garden Party."
    "I think that, especially at that point in his life, after a lifetime of trying to be who he wanted to be, he'd arrived at the point where he was proclaiming, 'Fine, if you like me, good, if you don't, then step off,'" Matthew Nelson said. "That song allowed him to do it in a very acerbic way, but, musically, with a real subtle grace."
    "Garden Party," which hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, proved to be his father's final top 40 song.
    Matthew Nelson said when he and his brother were conceiving of the show, they realized it was a deeper experience than simply playing some popular songs and showing a few nostalgic videos.
    Page 2 of 2 - "There's always going to be that sort of pop music pabulum out there," Matthew Nelson said. "Kids eat it up, but you outgrow it quickly. With this show, Gunnar and I are still playing music we believe in. We're two guys, two voices, and it's nice to be able to do this show in particular. We wanted to tell a story, and it's not pandering. It's natural, and it's always been the fastest two hours we've spent on stage. It has that sincerity."
    Tickets for "Ricky Nelson Remembered" are available online at www.mcphersonoperahouse.org, by phone at 620-241-1952, or at the Opera House box office.
    The show is sponsored by Industrial Electric and Piping Technology Companies, Peoples Bank and Trust, Midway Motors and Elliott Insurance and Real Estate.
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