Lamplighter Mobile Home Park located at 2240 S. Bentsen Palm Dr. in Palmview is a senior community that hosts three jams each week featuring either bluegrass, country, or gospel music. I recently attended their Country Jam that is held on Monday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., December through March.
Prior to the jam, park volunteers prepare and serve delicious dinners for a nominal price starting at 4 p.m. Then, at about 6:30 p.m., these same volunteers provide free cookies, cakes, and other treats to all those attending the jam.
During my visit to this jam, there were 27 performers who sang classic country hits from the 40’s or earlier through the 60’s.
Why do they sing these older songs versus today’s country? Simply stated, “So that they will not be forgotten. Once we are gone from this earth, these songs may not be remembered. We want to keep them alive for everyone.”
Also, this jam started with the Pledge of Allegiance and ended with a gospel hymn and God Bless America.
The hosts for the Monday jam are Bob and Lily Wiebe, Winter Texans from Winnipeg, Canada. These loving and gracious hosts are also great entertainers at numerous jams throughout the RGV. They perform as a duet with Bob accompanying each song with his guitar. They are known in the Valley as “A Taste of Jam.” They indicated that their purpose is to “see people smile.”
This jam has seven band musicians comprised of Jessie Green-Upright Bass, Dick Wynne-Rhythm Guitar, Irene Griﬃth-Keyboard, Ken Griﬃth-Lead Guitar, Dennis Weise-Bass Guitar, Bill Knight-Lead Guitar, and Mike Botello-Cajon Lap Drum.
Each band musician performs his/her own song plus supports each of the 20 jammers who attended this event. The band has no prior knowledge of what the jammers will perform until the jammer steps up to the stage microphone and announces the song title and key.
At this jam were the following jammers: Delbert Allen, Ron Brehm, Jean Closson, Frank Duramus, Learnie Fulk, Verna Funk, Ray Glenn, Louise, Janey La Point, Mary Lou, John Mos, Wanita Patterson, Renie, Dennis Solo, Bill and Susie Swartz, Iris Weise, Bob and Lily Wiebe, and Wilma Wynne.
There are many husband-and-wife jammers in the Valley, but it is rare to have the husband-and-wife team on stage as both performers and accompanying each jammer with their musical instrument. Irene Griﬃth (keyboard) and Ken Griﬃth (lead guitar) are Winter Texans from Illinois who perform at many jams throughout the Valley. Both are self-taught musicians who perform as individuals or as a duet.
Irene is a retired US postal service employee who started performing music after retirement. She was encouraged to perform by Ken, and other family and friends. Her talents are in high demand as there are few keyboard players among the Winter Texan performers.
Ken started playing the ukulele at age 10 followed by the guitar. His family encouraged him to perform, which he did in high school and church. Ken is a retired forklift operator who also spent most of his life performing at churches. He has performed with a gospel band and with the Country Persuaders band. He is “just a country boy that loves to play good music for others.”
To catch these jammers, visit Lamplighter Mobile Home Park on a Monday evening. They’ll be sharing their talents with you the rest of the season.