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HOBA Fall Festival kicks off Sept. 21


The Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association will hold its 39th annual Fall Bluegrass Festival Sept. 21 through 23 at HOBA park off of Lanton Road in West Plains. The festival is the last outdoor event of the season at the bluegrass park. 

Performances will include two Saturday shows from The Collins Brothers, The Belles of Blue performing all three days, two Saturday shows from The Hensley Boys, Friday and Saturday sets from Bob Hammons & the Good News Boys and Lonesome Road playing Thursday and Friday.    

Opening night will be an all-gospel night, starting at 7 p.m., with a free bean supper with each paid admission. A breakfast social will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. the morning of Sept. 23, with meals available for a donation. Also that day, instrument workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to noon.

Admission is $5 for the evening of Sept. 21, $10 for the evenings of Sept. 22 and 23 and the afternoon of Sept. 23, $15 for all day Sept. 23, or $25 for a weekend pass. Attendees age 18 and younger are admitted free with proof of age, and college students are admitted at half price with a current student ID. Veterans may ask for $1 off admission at the gate, and HOBA members will receive a $1 discount if they present their membership card.

HOBA is family-oriented organization and invites everyone to its festival and campgrounds complete with stage, concessions, recreational vehicle hookups and a shower house. 

No alcohol, illegal drugs, or recreational cannabis will be allowed.

HOBA Park is located at 1138 Bluegrass Lane. To get there, head south on Bypass U.S. 63/Jan Howard Expressway, turn south at the stoplight at Lanton Road near the Glass Sword Theater, then drive 1/8 mile to Bluegrass Lane on the right.

All shows are held rain or shine. Pets are not allowed in concession or concert areas. Attendees are reminded to to bring lawn chairs. 

The stated purpose of the Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association is “to further the education and the enjoyment of bluegrass music, to bring together bluegrass musicians, to conduct bluegrass shows open to the public, to inform the members via a newsletter.” HOBA is a not-for-profit association promoting bluegrass in and around the Ozarks.

For more information about the festival, contact the Ozark Welcome Center at 417-256-8835, Sharry Lovan at 417-252-4373 or Teresa Romans at 417-204-3400, or email tourism@westplains.gov or hoba58@ymail.com. People may also visit hobabluegrass.wixsite.com/mysite, or follow @bluegrass.hoba on Facebook.

For information regarding nonfood vendors, contact Belinda Eldringhoff 417-331-1840 and reach out to Kelly Hinds regarding instrument workshops on Saturday morning 417-855-0973.


The Hensley Boys

First cousins Owen is 16 and Aydan is 15 years old. They’ve been playing together for about five years. They play bluegrass and old country music. They have jam sessions with family and friends throughout the year. This summer they had the opportunity to make their first CD, which they said was “a great experience!”

The Hensley Boys have been busy this summer playing at local venues and several private events, and say they’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people.

Owen sings and plays the guitar. His dad helped get him started playing guitar by showing him a few chords. He has taken off from there and has continued to learn new things on his own. Owen also enjoys playing the bass guitar, hunting, fishing and trapping during the winter, and making Youtube videos of his hunting and fishing adventures.

Aydan plays the banjo and electric guitar. He also enjoys playing the dobro and the mandolin. Aydan has taught himself how to play them all.

In his spare time he enjoys hunting, helping out on the family farms, brush-hogging, baling and cutting hay during the summer. Playing music has become a part of both their lives.  

The Collins Brothers

The Collins Brothers bluegrass band was established originally in 1941 and has evolved over the years with different generations of Collinses. In 1978, Gene, Mike and Pat made a decision to go on to make their mark and formed the band The Drifters. Taking what they had learned from their dads and uncles, they would attack the music in their own way and eventually won the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA )National Band Contest in 1986.

The two who remain are Gene and Dale who have flanked themselves with Matt Maydew and J.R. Freeland in hopes of bringing to listeners the “in your face” great harmony and hard-driving ‘grass that The Collins Brothers have always been known for. 

Freeland has been playing banjo for many years. He played in a band with Gene Collins 20 years ago and the two have remained friends since. Some of Freeland’s music influences have been Earl Scruggs, JD Crowe, David and Ronnie Medlock, his Nannie (Effie Medlock Keith) and his dad (Joe Freeland).

Dale Collins has been involved in bluegrass since childhood. The youngest son of Edmond Collins, he plays bass for the band, but is at home on a few different instruments, plus sings lead and high harmony parts with the band. Dale’s musical influences are his dad, Edmond, Doyle Lawson, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley and Pat Collins.

Gene Collins started playing with the remaining old Collins brothers band when he was 18. He was one of the original 1978 Drifters bluegrass band and played in that band for 10 to 15 years. He played with Southwind for six years, and then rejoined Collins Brothers Band in its second generation for five years. Gene also has played with Stringed Union for over six years.     

Matt Maydew plays fiddle and mandolin for the group and also provides vocals. Matt is no stranger to the Ozarks bluegrass music scene, having been a member of many bands on many instruments over the years. He also plays with Stringed Union.

Bob Hammons and the Good News Boys

Bob Hammons has played music most of his life. The last 35 years he has been with groups such as Green Valley Grass, Bob Hammons and Wildwood, and Bob Hammons and the Good News Boys. He was active with SPBGMA for several years winning 15 awards for Gospel Group, Songwriter of the Year, Album of the Year and Male Vocalist. 

Doug Mitcham sings lead and harmony. He plays mandolin. He was involved with Hammons and he won numerous awards for Gospel Group and Album of the Year with SPBGMA.

Joe Meadows sings lead and harmony. He also plays rhythm guitar. Along with other family members he has played bluegrass gospel most of his life. 

Mark Zimmerman has played banjo for several of the well-known bluegrass bands in this part of the country. His smooth technique makes it a pleasure to work with him, say band members. He also has pastored a number of churches including Sac River Cowboy Church near Springfield now.

Jarred Zimmerman is Mark's son. Jared has been involved in playing music most of his life. He sings lead and harmony with the group as well as being one of the best upright bass players anywhere around.

Lonesome Road

Still going strong after 26 years, the four original members of Lonesome Road combine traditional bluegrass favorites with innovative arrangements of songs from other music styles, forming a striking repertoire that appeals to a wide range of people. Shelly Smith (bass), Ron Pennington (mandolin), Robby Boone (banjo) and David Maravilla (guitar) bring decades of experience with national and regional bands to their rhythm-focused brand of bluegrass. That foundation, complemented by strong lead and harmony vocals, results in performances that have delighted audiences over the years, say promoters. 

Having won the 1999 SPBGMA National Band Contest in Nashville in their second year together, the band’s members say they have remained the best of friends throughout the years. They still enjoy getting together even off stage, whether to play bluegrass cabin songs or to work on new things.

Playing tunes from from Bill Monroe and the Country Gentlemen, to the Carter Family and Johnny Cash, or to Bonnie Raitt and Bad Company, Lonesome Road “has something for everyone.”

The band’s members attribute their longevity to compatibility, both musically and personally. “Of course, being not merely bandmates but best friends helps their music,” they point out.

Boone is said to be known and respected by banjo players everywhere. He has been featured in articles in Banjo Newsletter and played the Grand Ole Opry on a brief tour with Rhonda Vincent. One indication of his talent is that when JD Crowe retired in 2012, he suggested to his band that they hire Rob, the band shares, adding, “What an honor.”
Maravilla began his pursuit of bluegrass in the late 70s. He assisted in forming the band Second Wind, whose personnel included Rhonda Vincent and later, Alison Krauss. Afterward, David was invited to join Alison in her band, Union Station, to enter the 1988 SPBGMA. International Band Contest, which they won.
Pennington has a bluegrass resume that includes tours with bluegrass greats such as Larry Sparks, Paul Adkins, Bob Paisley, Lynn Morris, Gary Ferguson, and The Bluegrass Cardinals. He has performed at such notable venues as The Lone Star Café in New York City and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Ron remains high on the lists of many national acts as the one to call when needing a fill-in musician, say band members.
Shelly Smith began entertaining professionally at a young age as a member of a country music show at Lake of the Ozarks. There, she refined her skills performing as a vocalist and instrumentalist for eight years. Shelly’s forceful yet pleasant voice is the focal point of Lonesome Road’s performances.

Lonesome Road is known for their tight harmonies, musicianship and fun-loving attitudes on and off stage.  

Belles of Blue

The best in original bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music, according to promoters, the band features Nancy Murdy Walker, Dollie Vi Murdy Slayton, Jeffrey Woodard and Terry Canter.

Walker plays guitar and fiddle and provides vocals. She and her sister, Slayton, were raised in the Willow Springs area and are the daughters of Ed and Sharon Murdy who were well-known evangelists many years ago. Walker now hails from Kentucky. She is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, published author and accomplished seamstress. When she isn’t busy teaching, she sews, writes and picks on the guitar. She has performed since a young age, had many bands and has recorded several albums.

Slayton, as mentioned, was also raised in the Willow Springs and now hails from Kentucky. She plays bass for the group and also provides vocals. She also writes songs. She contributes articles to many area newspapers too.  

Woodard on mandolin and Canter on banjo will be joining the Belles as they perform.