Kelly Wilkinson, Becky Bennett, Debra Tuggle and Darlene Davenport. Photo by Ken Luccese

Central City Competition

By Kelly Wilkinson

While visiting relatives in Morgantown, Ky. some weeks ago, my mother happened upon a news article about the Everly Brothers Talent Search '89 contest. Luckily, she had an extra copy of Becky's (Bennett) and my recent cassette single "Goodbye Kiss," and entered the tape in the contest on the deadline date.

Three days later we received a letter informing us that we were among the 14 entrants that had been selected from the 60 received, to compete in the talent contest the following Friday night, August 11, in Central City, Ky. Needless to say, we were thrilled, and I thought "Ole Mom" deserved a pat on the back for her part.

When we arrived in Central City Debbie Tuggle pulled her car in right next to ours, and we soon learned that Debbie had also been entered in the contest by her mother and had been selected to perform that night.

The contestants were directed to the performers' tent behind the stage (a flat-bed pick-up with a backdrop) and informed of the night's procedures by employees of First Kentucky, sponsors of the festival. At this point everyone was free to mingle with friends and family until it was time to perform.

We headed into the audience which, before the night ended, grew to approximately l,800-2,000 people, and talked with my relatives -- who comprised a virtual community of Butler and Ohio County natives. Joann Hatcher -- she wrote "Goodbye Kiss" -- and her husband Wayne were there, and we thanked them all for showing up to support us.

We hung out with Debbie and her friend Darlene Davenport, took several pictures, and just generally passed the time until it was our turn onstage. Debbie, accompanied by Darlene, performed sixth and Becky and I were in the twelfth position.

We enjoyed Debbie's performance very much; we have great admiration for her songwriting abilities.

When our time came to perform we felt unusually comfortable, considering that this was the largest crowd we had ever entertained. We had brought along Ken Lucchese, member of Serpent Wisdom, to accompany us on guitar as he has done on several occasions on stages in Louisville.

Soon all the acts had had an opportunity to put forth their best efforts and the decision was in the hands of the judges. It seemed like forever before the announcement came that Becky and I had come in third, a young singer/fiddle player had placed second, and Debbie had won first place. (The judges related that it had been a very difficult task to decide in which order to place the top three winners.) Each placing act graciously accepted their prize on stage. We were thrilled with our third-place honor.

We know that Debbie and Darlene were excited at the prospect of performing the next night as part of their first place prize. They would be appearing on the same bill with such talented performers as New Grass Revival, John Prine and the Everly Brothers.

(Congratulations, Debbie and Darlene, Becky and Kelly! Our city is proud of its own. -- Editor.)