New Music School Opens in Paris

instrumentsIn response to many years of being asked, “Would you teach me to play banjo?” Boyd Hudgens has officially opened his school of music, “Stringbender Music.” The studio is located just east of Paris on FM 1508 and teaches students to play several instruments.

Hudgens also provides instruction for Pedal Steel Guitar, Lap Steel, Dobro, Bass Guitar and Rhythm Guitar.  A native of Honey Grove, Hudgens was raised around a large family of musicians.  His mother played piano and his father played the harmonica.  His grandfather and uncle taught him to play the guitar in the 1960′s.

In the mid 70′s, Hudgens played guitar for the “One Way Choir” at FBC Honey Grove.  Later, he and friend Gary Moreland from Honey Grove formed the progressive band, “Bois d’Arc Bottom” in 1976, performing at venues all around Northeast Texas, including live broadcasts on radio station KFYN in Bonham.

Boyd attended Bill Grant’s Bluegrass Festival at Salt Creek Park in Hugo Oklahoma religiously for many years, eventually winning the Five-String banjo championship in 1979.  He had previously won First Place at East Texas State University’s first bluegrass festival in 1976.

During the early years of 1980, Hudgens studied the pedal steel guitar in Nashville under the tutelage of Jeff Newman and Buddy Emmons.  Hudgens says that Newman was the greatest steel guitar instructor in the world, but his life was cut short in 2004 when he died in an ultralight airplane crash.  Emmons, known as “The World’s Foremost Steel Guitarist”, is recognized  for his work with many Country, Pop, and Jazz artist, including Ray Price, Johnny Bush, The Gatlins, Gene Watson and many more.

Boyd’s longest stint of playing music on the road was with Roxton native, Robert Joe Vandygriff and his band “Shades of County”.  Boyd played steel guitar for Vandygriff’s band as they opened for the likes of Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, The Judds, Steve Wariner, Dan Seals, Helen Cornelius, Eddie Rabbit and many more.

Currently, Boyd performs with Wade White, and also The Bolton Family of Paris.  He has also performed with Lou Ann Petty of Greenville (portraying Patsy Cline) and plays regularly at the Lake Bonham Hoedown. His banjo, steel and dobo work can be heard on recordings by Vandygriff, Landon Teague, Kari & Jerry Shurtleff, LA Petty, Michael Grigsby, Post Oak Savannah, Seven Summers Old, The Yoder Family, and The Red Horse Band.

Since retiring from his job of 37 years at L-3 Communication in Greenville, Hudgens is in full swing with Stringbender Music.  His studio is fully equiped with instruments, sound equipment, instructional material and all accessories needed to “Learn to Play!”  Hudgens offers a free introduction to any of the instruments that he teaches, and says, “You can learn to play without reading music!”

For more information about Stringbender Music, call 903-784-7436 or visit

Sandy Creek Bridge on CR 16590 to be dedicated in honor of Duane Allen, lead singer of The Oak Ridge Boys


Final drawing plan of the plaque, as provided by the Southwell Co.

The Big Sandy Creek Bridge over County Road 16590 will soon receive a new name. On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 15th, the bridge will be officially renamed and dedicated in honor of country music artist and Taylortown native, Duane Allen.

The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. at the bridge, where a plaque detailing the location’s significance will be permanently placed and unveiled. The cast aluminum plaque is 20″ wide and 18″ tall, with a black leatherette background and will read as follows:

Award winning singer-songwriter-producer Duane Allen was born April 29, 1943, a few hundred yards from this bridge. Big Sandy Creek ran through the middle of the Allen family farm, where Duane picked cotton as a young boy. He learned to fish and swim in Big Sandy Creek. He rode over this bridge each day on his way to school. 

It was in this area that Duane dreamed the dreams that began a long and acclaimed musical journey. He learned to sing in this community. He graduated from Cunningham High School, Paris Junior College, and Texas A & M at Commerce.

Duane joined The Oak Ridge Boys in 1966, and the group went on to break musical barriers, not only across formats, from gospel to country to pop, but across borders, touring and winning awards internationally.

Allen is currently the lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys. Founded in the 1940s (originally named The Oak Ridge Quartet), it is one of the longest-running groups in country music history. The band has lost and gained members, but it has held its current lineup for over 40 years. William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Richard Sterban and Joe Bonsall have been together since the latter joined the group in 1973. Allen himself has been with the band since 1966, the same year he graduated from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University) in Commerce.

Ronnie Nutt, Preneed Counselor for Fry-Gibbs Funeral Home and retired Regional Director of The Texas Department of Human Resources, is a longtime friend of Allen’s, and it was he who brought the bridge dedication idea forward to Lamar County’s Commissioners Court. Since then, he said, Commissioner Lawrence Malone and County Judge M.C. “Chuck” Superville have worked hard to make his idea a reality.

“[I] just thought it was the right time to find a permanent way to memorialize his success in the music industry,” Nutt said. “…He still is introduced as Duane Allen from Taylortown, Texas and [he] always treasured the life and music values learned and taught by his family and friends of this area.”

The band has certainly had its share of well-deserved success over the years, including several ACM and American Music awards, and a Grammy award; it also had the honor of being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2011

“[Allen] is being inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame this summer and has already been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame,” Nutt said. “We anticipate [the group's] introduction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in a year or so…”

Still, despite all the success Allen and the band have had over the years, he remains the picture of humility. Nutt shared quotes from direct conversations he had with Allen himself concerning the bridge dedication. These correspondences prove that, no matter if you move away or how far you may travel, you never truly forget your roots.

“Ronnie, thank you so much for this huge honor. There is a wonderful feeling about a small-town boy being honored with a small bridge being named for me,” Allen said. “That just humbles me to the core. My family had its heart and soul in that community, just as all of the people in that area.”

Allen always retains his modesty, even when speaking with a close friend, as evidenced in another conversation between Nutt and himself:

“…I don’t really seek applause or honors. However, when it is done the way you have done it, I have done it, I have to tell you that it humbles this old country boy’s heart and soul.”

Commissioner Malone and Judge Superville, along with other county commissioners will be present for the dedication ceremony. Of course, what kind of dedication would it be without the man of the hour?

“He is bringing his entire ten-person family of kids, grand-kids, and son-in-law from Tennessee for this,” Nutt said. “Yes, Duane will be there in his Oak Ridge Boys tour bus.”

Before the official bridge dedication, the day will begin at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial, where Allen and family will take a private tour.

“I have been sharing with him the progress on the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial since it started,” Nutt said. “…He and his family want to tour it and honor their relatives who served by making a contribution and encouraging others to continue to support this project.”

From 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Allen family will present a bench and markers for the memorial, and will then be available to the media for questions and conversations.

Directions to the bridge from US Hwy 82 coming into Paris: take a left on Loop 286 South as you go under Loop 286 turning on access road to the left of Burger King. Proceed on Loop 286 South for approx. 2 mile or so turning left onto Farm Road 905 as you pass a big green roof Covenant Christian Church on your right. Stay on 905 until you come to stop sign then take a left on FM 905 and travel approx. 14 miles on FM 905 until you come to County Road 16590 (green sign) take a right and the Duane Allen Memorial Bridge Dedication is at Sandy Creek about 1/2 to 3/4 miles after you take the right turn off FM 905.

For more information about the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial Public Event, contact George Wood at 903.905.2711.

For more information about the Duane Allen Memorial Bridge and Road dedication, contact Commissioner Lawrence Malone at 903.782.6557.

For more information about the Oak Ridge Boys or Duane Allen, visit the band’s website at

By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra

Auditions for Miss Firecracker at PCT Tonight

TheatrePlazaThe Paris Community Theatre is holding auditions for the hilarious “Miss Firecracker Contest” is tonight, Tuesday, April 8th, at the Plaza Theatre at 7pm.

Roles Needed:

Carnelle Scott [female], the play’s protagonist, works in a jewelry store and has low self-esteem. Orphaned and having been surrounded by death all her life, Carnelle is attempting to make sense out of her life and establish her own identity. In an attempt to be patriotic for the beauty pageant, she dyes her hair bright red. Her tenacity evokes the loyalty of family and friends, who admire her spunk.

Popeye Jackson [female], a seamstress, is a small, glowing person who wears thick glasses with heavy black rims. While making Cornelle’s costume, she is caught up in the pageant madness. A unique character with a hard life, she got her nickname from a childhood prank which caused her eyes to bulge, leaving her with the ability to hear through her eyes. She is semi-literate, naive, kind, and curious about everything. This role can be played by an actress of any ethnic origin.

Elain Rutledge [female], Carnelle’s cousin and role model, could be described as beautiful but her beauty is rapidly fading. She did everything her mother expected by going to college and parleying her beauty into marriage with a rich man. Yet she feels suffocated by her life and returns home with the intention of leaving her husband and children because she doesn’t like them.

Delmont Williams [male], Elain’s brother, returns to town to sell his mother’s house. Perhaps more realistic than the rest of his family, he is unstable with a history of rash actions. He also has an obsession with erotic beauty, yet he has a sensible distain for the phoniness of the pageant. He entrances Popeye with his ability to wiggle his ears and write poetry.

Mac Sam [male], known as the balloon man, is one of Carnelle’s former lovers. He seems to truly care about her and cheers her on as she competes in the beauty contest. Sam is thin and stoop-shouldered, and in drastically poor health; he is tired of life.

Tessie Mahoney [female], the beauty contest coordinator, is not a beauty herself: the uglier of T. S. Mahoney’s two ugly daughters. She covers up her bitterness by being as sweet as she can be.

The director will try to structure the rehearsal schedule so that rehearsals will be spread out to only three a week until the final two weeks of production.

The Miss Firecracker Contest takes place iin the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven, a few days before the Fourth of July. Carnelle Scott (known locally as “Miss Hot Tamale”) is rehearsing furiously for the Miss Firecracker Contest—hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain, a former Miss Firecracker winner, (who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small children) complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain’s eccentric brother, Delmount, (recently released from a mental institution) to sell the family homestead and decamp for New Orleans. But, aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye (who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount) and several other cheerfully nutty characters, Carnelle perseveres—leading to a denouement of unparalleled hilarity, compassion and moving lyricism as all concerned finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward what must surely be a better future.

The Miss Firecracker Contest will run June 13-15th and June 19-22.

For more information please contact or Box Office at 903-784-0259 or at


Paris Community Theatre Announces 2014-15 Season

TheatrePlazaThe Paris Community Theatre has announced the 2014-15 Season. The season kicks off in mid-July and runs through the end of June 2015.

White Liars/Black Comedy (July 18-20 24-27) — 2 plays that share the same cast and run together. Black Comedy is a one-act farce about a young sculptor, and his debutante fiancée who have borrowed some expensive, antique furniture from his neighbor’s flat without his permission in order to impress an elderly millionaire art collector. When the power fails, things slide into disaster for him. The White Liars is also a comedy that revolves around an eccentric and disillusioned fortune tell living in a decaying seaside resort, and the two young men who consult her.

J.B. (September 26-28 October 2-5) J.B. is a modern retelling of the story of the biblical figure Jobin the play, J.B., is a wealthy banker who describe his prosperity as a just reward for his faithfulness to God. As in the story of Job, J.B.’s children and property are destroyed in horrible accidents and the former millionaire takes to the streets where he is visited by three Comforters (representing History, Science, and Religion) who offer contradicting explanations for his plight.

Alice in Wonderland (December 12-14 & 18-21) Follow that rabbit to a delightful, entertaining world of childhood fantasies.  Alice journeys into a world of talking animals, comic royalty and races where the contestants run in circles!  There are also the Mad Hatter’s frantic tea party, the watch-carrying White Rabbit and talking flowers.  Along the
way Alice must deal with a sneezing duchess and a baby that turns into a pig!  The finale has Alice watching a trial, but she suddenly finds herself the accused!

Avenue Q.  (January 22-25,  28-February 1, 2015) Avenue Q is a gut-busting hilarious modern musical focusing on a group of unique 20-somethings making their way in the big city, seeking their purpose in life. Although the show addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children’s show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned.  It’s a laugh out loud musical that tells the timeless story of a  recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q.  He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood.  Together, Princeton and his new-found  friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever elusive purpose in life.  Strong Language and Adult Situations.

5 Women Wearing The Same Dress (March 13-15 & 19-22, 2015) During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee, estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. They are Frances, a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy, the  cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne, whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior;  Meredith, the bride’s younger sister whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha, a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism  about men is called into question when she meets Tripp, a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent and touching celebration of the women’s spirit.  Adult Themes, situations and Language

Gypsy (June 18-21 25-28, 2015)  The beloved musical starring the ultimate with stage mother, Rose, pushing her two daughters into Uncle Jocko’s Kiddie Show. June, her mother feels, is the most likely to become a star. Louise is plainer and quieter; she stands meekly in her sister’s shadow. A new act called ‘Baby June and her Newsboys’ is conceived by Rose, and the family is off to the ‘big time’ in Los Angeles.  Her object is to make her two penniless girls into world stars. The girls begin to grow up and the act becomes ‘Dainty June and  her Newsboys.’ Unfortunately its quality does not improve. Bookings are  cancelled and the act moves on. When June elopes with Tulsa, one of the boys in the act, Rose sets out to make Louise into the star. Behind Rose lies a worrying sense of doom; a feeling that she never will  fulfill her dream of stardom for her girls because it is really a dream of stardom for herself.  Finally the troupe reaches the bottom, a burlesque house in Wichita. Rose laments that she would rather starve than perform there. Louise realizes there is no vaudeville left except for burlesque. Here the clumsy Louise shoots into stardom by becoming something different: a ladylike stripper. Three  strippers dressed respectively in a ballet costume, a trumpet and well       placed electric light bulbs are used in a most exaggerated, but very funny number, You Gotta Get a Gimmick, to indicate the difference between the usual brassy stripper and the very elegant Louise. At last Louise breaks away from her mother and goes out on her own as Gypsy Rose Lee.  Rose bursts into the plaintive Rose’s  Turn in which she sings of her suppressed talents that she has sacrificed  to further the careers of her unappreciative daughters.  Loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist, and her mother, Rose, the ultimate show business mother. Family Friendly.

In addition to the Main Plaza Productions, PCT also launched a few years ago “Off Plaza” productions. These special performances are a little more cutting-edge and are one-weekend only. The first is the Rabbit Hole (Sept. 4-7) and the other is Waiting for the Parade (date TBA).  Rabbit Hole is an intense drama with adult language and situations that tells the story of a young couple who seem to have it all until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart.  Waiting for the Parade is John Murrell’s play, set in Calgary during World War II, in which five women gather to work for the war effort while their men are away.  Through the interaction of these five women, Murrell paints a portrait of a “good war” as lived on the sidelines.

All Tickets for All Main Plaza and Off Plaza Productions are $12.00.  PCT also offers three season subscription packages. The Season Subscriber Package:  4 for $40 Any four of the 6 Main Plaza Productions ($8.00 savings); Patron Package:  all 6 Main Plaza Productions for $60 ($12.00 savings) and a Benefactor Package:  6 Main; 2 Off Plaza; 2 Community Choir Concerts; 2 Children’s Theatre Productions; Unlimited Access to Haunted Theatre for $90  ($40 savings).  To purchase season tickets call the PCT box office at 903784-0259 or visit the PCT  website at






PCT gearing up to perform ‘Run for Your Wife’

Rehearsals are currently underway for Paris Community Theater’s production of “Run for Your Wife”, a hilarious British farce, written by playwright, Ray Cooney, which had audiences rolling in the aisles in London and New York.

It’s about a taxi driver, who gets away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working schedule.  Everything that could go wrong, does, as the cabby tries to keep his double life from exploding. Hilda Mallory is directing this production.

18ae16758f5f3bf63b0e8675dcbcbd4eThis fast paced, rollicking comedy is full of laughs as the cast attempts to go through their daily routines. The action takes place in the home of John and Mary Smith in Wimbledon and in the home of John and Barbara Smith in Streatham.  Primarily, the main set, which is the lounge of a modern flat, “doubles” for both homes. Throughout the play, action will be taking place simultaneously in each of the flats, but the inhabitants of each flat are, naturally, oblivious to the others. John seems to be missing since he does not turn up where he is supposed to be, and both wives become so anxious that they contact the police in their respective section of London. In fact, he had an altercation with some rowdies and ends up in the hospital. He is taken to his home in Wimbledon by Detective Sergeant Troughton, where he discovers that he has lost a lot of time and memory. Enter his up-stairs neighbor, Stanley Gardner, who becomes embroiled in John’s attempts to keep his secret life from unraveling.

The cast includes John “Terry” Bull as John Smith, the taxi driver; Sherry Scott as Mary, the first wife; Becki Wisenhunt as Barbara, the other wife; David Fielding as Stanley Gardner, the upstairs neighbor of John and Mary, who unwittingly gets drawn into the complications; Jim Hamaker as Detective Sergeant Troughton; Charlie Thompson as Detective Sergeant Porterhouse; Justin Gallant as Bobby Franklyn, the flamboyant up-stairs neighbor of John and Barbara; and Audrey Faires as the Reporter.

Stage crew includes Betsy Mills as Assistant Director; Justin Gallant as Stage Manager; Audrey, Faires Assistant Stage Manager; Josh Maxwell, Technical Director; and Charlie Thompson, Set Construction.

“The play is a little risqué,” director, Hilda Mallory, said. “Suggestive, with sexual innuendo, filled with mistaken identities, sight gags and enough comic lines to fill an encyclopedia of humor, but it might not be suitable for everyone. It is not offensive, just full of fun for everyone.”

“Ameriprise Financial is sponsoring “Run for Your Wife,” Mallory said. “We are really grateful to Thomas Callaway and James Callaway, financial advisers at Ameriprise, for taking the interest in our theater and helping bring this production to our many friends and theater lovers.”

Play dates are March 21-23 and 27-30 at the Plaza on the Square. For more information, call the PCT office at 903-784-0259 and reserve your seats.