Small Town Kentucky Jamboree:

The Shepherdsville Country Music Show

By Michael Stout

The Shepherdsville Country Music Show, located 2 1/2 miles west of I-65 on Ky. Hwy. 44, invited Louisville Music News out for some homespun fun and some mighty fine country music, from both yesterday and today, on Jan. 14. This family-oriented country music jamboree is owned by Chester and Mary Reid and is operated by Rick and Renda Aiken. It has been a popular show around the Louisville area for more than 20 years. The late Kenny Taylor operated the show until his death last June, and the Aikens officially took over Jan. 7. Renda expects it to be the "hottest country show in the state" in the near future and is anxiously awaiting a full house. The Aikens aim to provide good, top-quality entertainment in a safe and comfortable environment for all ages to enjoy some good country music.

This three-hour show is finely crafted with great emphasis on detail and perfection. The Aikens have proved their excitement about the show by their great determination and effort in putting together a very clean and tightly rehearsed band, known as Rick Aiken and the Country Cookin' Band. The group performs its own heaping portion of material as well as accompanying each guest performer.

Rick describes the recipe for a pot full of Country Cookin' as 4 1/2 cups of Ronnie Payne (filling in for regular band member Sonny Miller) on bass guitar, a pinch of Chris Thompson on flat-top guitar, 5 teaspoons of David Whoberry on hot lead guitar, Larry Williams with some hot, boiling steel guitar, 14 pounds of fat back drum with David Keen, and a little bit of voice. And Rick fills in the missing ingredient with his keyboard playing as smooth as butter and his vocals as sweet as honey. The talented and entertaining Brenda Baker is a regular vocalist on the show who performs hits by everyone from Patsy Cline to Louisville's Patty Loveless.

Lee Casey, from WTMT 620 AM, keeps the show rolling with her wit and humor by acting as emcee. Each show consists of a hearty helpin' of country music with solo vocal performances by Rick Aiken, Brenda Baker, Chris Thompson, and two or three special guests each week. You'll be in for a real treat when thirteen year old Tiffany Lynn Puckett stops in to perform songs by artists such as Patty Loveless and Reba McEntire. No matter who's on the lineup for the evening, you'd better come prepared to pull up a pew, put your hands together, and have a good time.

Rick shined on classics such as Merle Haggard's "Back In Love By Monday," Charley Pride's "You Win Again," "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer To You)" by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, and Ronnie Milsap's "Daydreams About Night Things." Brenda Baker had the audience eating right out of her hand with remarkable performances of Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Passionate Kisses," Trisha Yearwood's "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart," and Patty Loveless' "Timber I'm Falling In Love." Her incredible performance of Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" showcased her impressive vocal range in which she never hits a sour note or misses a beat.

It was evident that Chris Thompson is a huge fan of ballads, especially any performed by Pikeville's Dwight Yoakam. Well, that's just fine because his voice fits them like a hand in a glove. Chris excelled on hits such as Yoakam's "It Only Hurts Me When I Cry," "I Ain't That Lonely Yet," "I Sang Dixie," and Randy Travis' "On The Other Hand." Ronnie Payne really treated the audience by being the guest bass guitarist and performing hits like Ricky Van Shelton's "Life Turned Her That Way," Merle Haggard's "Big City," and Ray Price's "I Won't Mention It Again."

The special guest of the evening was the ever popular and talented Susie Smith Harper. Susie has played around the Louisville area for a number of years and her great talent has even led her to a special performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, right where Hank Williams sang. The best way to describe Susie would be to say that she has the voice of an angel, as well as the personality. Susie can take any song and convince you that it was written just for her. This particular evening, Susie treated the crowd to her own rendition of Crystal Gayle's "Somebody Love's You," Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" and "Your Cheatin' Heart," and Jennifer Warnes' "I Know a Heartache." The highlight of the evening was Susie's spine-chilling and soulful performance of "House of the Rising Sun." She closed the show with a powerful gospel medley that included songs such as "I Saw The Light," "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," and "This Little Light of Mine."

The Shepherdsville Country Music Show was proud to present newcomer Doug Slaughter of Mount Washington. Doug made the crowd go wild with his spirited performances of Collin Raye's "In This Life" and Doug Stone's "I Love The Way You Love Me." I believe Doug has a huge career ahead of him with all the vocal talent of Vince Gill. Bobo the Hobo made a special appearance and had the crowd in stitches with his wild and crazy stories of snakes hissing and his own version of "Roses Are Red."

The Shepherdsville Country Music Show is the place to go for the entire family to enjoy some good, clean, down-home country music and humor. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. every Saturday night, seats 500 people, and costs $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $1 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. No alcohol is allowed and smoking is permitted in designated areas only. For reservations or more details, call (502) 969-3515.