The Peppermint Palace, also known oﬃcially as El Valle Del Sol, is a senior park community located in Mission at 2500 East Business Highway 83. This park has a delicious name along with the delightful country music played with the assistance of a stage band and jammers on Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon whenever the Winter Texans are in the RGV.
El Valle Del Sol has a large and spacious hall which is perfect for musical performances and dancing. The stage is roomy and easily accommodates the stage musicians and their equipment. The sound quality is excellent thanks to the expertise of Dean Sides, sound engineer.
Each music jam has a host who organizes and coordinates the activities for each jam. The country jam’s host is Jim Thompson who is also on stage and an excellent entertainer.
The stage band members who accompany the jammers and perform their own selections change occasionally. At the mid December 2022 jam that I attended, the stage band was Isaac Martinez - drummer, Jim Thompson - rhythm guitar, Iris Wiese - vocalist (from Minnesota), Dennis Wiese - Bass guitar and vocalist (from Minnesota), Ted Keim - self-made Cajon Drum Box and vocalist (from Illinois), Chris Koch - lead guitar and vocalist (from Indiana), Irene Griﬃth - keyboard and vocalist (Illinois), and Ken Griﬃth - lead guitar and vocalist (Illinois). Also worth mentioning is Bill Knight - lead guitar, who wasn’t present for this jam.
Each band member and jammer performs two songs of their choice. The band members must also know each jammers song by memory. There is no rehearsal between the jammer and the band prior to the jammer’s performance. The band does not know what each jammer will sing or play until the jammer announces their selection and the key signature to the band and the audience.
In addition to the band members, the following jammers were at this jam: Delbert Allen, Roger Bolstid, Cal Latham, Wanita Patterson, Bill and Susie Swartz, Dick and Wilma Wynne, and Bob and Lily Wiebe.
Each band member and jammer has his/her own musical journey. At this jam I chose to get to know Dick and Wilma Wynne a little bit more.
Dick and Wilma perform in the Rio Grande Valley as the “Wynne Jammers.” They perform as a duet in the valley at shows and music festivals.
Wilma plays bass guitar with Dick at lead/rhythm guitar. Both are vocalists who sing as a duet or individually.
They were married in 1997 after Wilma moved from Missouri and met Dick in Nebraska. They now live in the RGV as full time Converted Texans.
Wilma is a retired nurse who learned to play bass guitar on her own as an older adult. She sang with her family as a child and sang in school and church choirs. She also sang with her sister on the radio.
Dick is retired from truck sales and raced cars. After being encouraged by his mother and brother, Dick started performing at age eight. Over his career, he has performed both on radio and TV. In Nebraska, Dick was in both the Kenaston Band and the Good Ol’ Boys band. He and Wilma also performed with Don Joy and Melanie Lynn in Nashville, TN.
Everyone was welcoming as we listened to the great country music selections that brought back memories. Some couples chose to dance instead of just listening. The audience of over 60 really appreciated each performance. Midway through the performances, the park volunteers provided desserts and beverages.
As with many jams, the final song selection was God Bless America, where everyone lent their voice before leaving for the evening.