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You’re invited to a rockin’ reunion

RockinReunionIf you lived in Elizabethton in the 1970s and enjoyed grooving to some local rock and roll, you might remember two local groups from back in the day – Blue Fox and Gold Rush.
And if you’re sentimental about those days, you will no doubt be delighted to know those days are back – well, sort of.
Members from the two bands will reunite Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at T.A. Dugger Auditorium for Rock Reunion.
They’ll be making music for a great cause – Relay For Life.
Organizer Jim Bass, a former member of both Blue Fox and Gold Rush, said he’s excited about the event. It has been tricky, he said, making this all come together.
The groups’ former drummer, Johnny Gardner, was the one Bass initially called with the idea.
Gardner, who lives in Johnson City, often works out of Nashville as a studio musician, Bass said. He has played with the likes of Don Williams, Kenny Rogers and the Dixie Chicks.
“Because he is in the business, I knew he still had contacts,” Bass added. “The hardest thing was getting a date for these six people to get together. The timeline is really tight, but it’s the best we could do.”
The reuniting band members are coming from all over: Bery “Corky” Jolly and his son, Derek Brownlee, will come from Knoxville; Randy Campbell will head up from Atlanta; Andy Houston and Gardner will drive over from Johnson City. Former band members Lee Gouge and Bass live in Elizabethton.
“It’s been over 35 years since we have all been together,” Bass said. “It’s been at least 30 years since I’ve seen Corky and Randy and almost that long since I saw Lee, because I moved away for a while. With some of us living out of town, our paths just didn’t cross.”
Bass remembers his days with the bands fondly. He played with the Blue Fox band in the early 70s, staying with them until 1972, when he joined Gold Rush.
Members of the Blue Fox band included Jolly, Bass, Campbell, Houston, Gardner, George Hopson, David Dugger, Sam Townsend and Sam Shipley.
“We played in the East Tennessee area and were in a Battle of the Bands,” Bass recalled. “We won the local competition and then went to Ohio to compete in the nationals. We got second place.”
Gardner and Bass later joined Gold Rush and worked with some new musicians. They included Terry Garland, Louie Holt, Louie Diggs and Ronnie Miller, who has since died.
“I have a picture of that group,” Bass said. “We had a booking agent at the time, so we were a pretty decent group.”
Bass’ memories are mostly happy, he said, but his voice softened as he talked about the main purpose behind the reunion – raising money for the Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
“Cancer has touched everybody in this group,” Bass said. “Corky’s wife is finishing up treatment now and has been declared cancer-free. But one of our former band members, Ronnie Miller (Gold Rush), passed away at the age of 35 from pancreatic cancer. He was playing with the orchestra at Epcot Center at the time – a very talented musician.”
Garland is also a cancer survivor, having beaten a malignant melanoma about 12 years ago.
With this Relay team, everybody wins, Bass said.
“We were at the Relay For Life and during the Survivors’ Lap,” Bass recalled, “an older lady looked over at us, at our group, and said, ‘Thank you for what you do, raising money for us. It really does make a difference. I’ve lived with cancer for 28 years.’”
“That’s what drew me to this,” he added. “If we did this without a purpose, what good would it be? This is something we can keep and treasure as memories for the rest of our lives.”
Tickets for Rock Reunion are on sale for $5 each and are available at Carter County Bank, Jiggy Ray’s, J’s Corner, Security Federal, Tips and Toes and David Sellers Photography. Tickets will also be available at the door. All proceeds go to Relay For Life.
For more information about the event, call John Gardner, 615-260-3147.