Drizzle could not dampen the spirits of those who attended the fifth annual Jimmy Lowry Tribute Concert held at the Blackmon Amphitheatre Friday.
“In all the years we have done this, we’ve had rain before or after the concert but not during,” commented lead singer Sylvia Lowry, wife of the late Jimmy Lowry. She likened herself to a retired rodeo rider at the beginning of the concert. Lowry told the audience that she was that old retired rider talked into doing one more bull ride who finds himself sitting in the chute thinking how did he get back in this situation.
If the smiles and amount of crowd putting down their umbrellas to dance is an indication, Lowry and the bands’ fears about being rusty were unfounded. Lowry’s daughter, Jennie, was honored by the response to the event.
“I would like to recognize personally all the musicians who came out and the crows who sat in the rain and waited for the show,” said Lowry. “Lord willing, we’ll have another show next year.”
She also told of how musicians Steve Jarrell of Mount Airy and “Spig” Davis traveled six hours from Nashville to perform in the benefit.
“It’s a big deal to say I’m going to drive all that way to be in the rain for a benefit,” added Lowry. “I can’t say enough how great that is.”
Ticket sales for the tribute concert not only honored Jimmy Lowry’s legacy but will benefit young people pursuing artistic careers. Lowry died unexpectedly in 2007 at age 62. He grew up in Mount Airy and attended Mount Airy High School before graduating from East Surry High School in 1963.
A career musician, Jimmy Lowry began with The King Bees, a regional act that got its start at a pool in Pilot Mountain in the late 1950s. He later played with the O’Kaysions, the North Carolina-based group known for the hit single “(I’m a) Girl Watcher” in the 1960s. He also appeared with The O’Kaysions on the ABC network television show “American Bandstand” in the early 1970s.
Later, Lowry joined with “The Sons of the Beach,” and moved to Nashville in 1978, serving as Donna Fargo’s guitar player and band leader for many years before he returned to Mount Airy in 1997.
Friday’s tribute featured rhythm and blues, beach and soul music performed by Steve Jarrell & The Sons of the Beach, The Lowry Gang and other special guests.
“It’s like a reunion of people that he played with in the past and friends who used to come out and see us play,” said Jennie Lowry, daughter of Jimy Lowry and the owner of Old Mill Music in Mount Airy. “This is the only time my mother performs all year, except for church.”
Mount Airy native Steve Jarrell is known for his beach music songs “I’ve Still Got Sand in My Shoes,” and “Carolina Man.” He performed with Lowry and The Sons of the Beach and also with Donna Fargo. He now lives in Nashville. The Lowry gang includes members of the late musician’s band, including Sylvia and Jennie.
The show was part of a summer series by the Surry Arts Council.
After Lowry’s death in 2007, his family decided to honor his love of music with an annual concert to benefit local music students using all event proceeds. More than $8,500 in music and arts scholarships have been award by the Surry Arts Council as a result. This includes $2,600 given last May for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Lowry estimated that at least 30 students benefited in the past five years from the concert proceeds. She said the concert represents a way to give something back by helping young people interested in an artistic profession.
Talented young people may apply for scholarships and are selected to receive them through an audition process.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1923.