Each Tuesday (Dec-Mar from 7-9 p.m.) country music is performed at Casa Del Valle Mobile Home Park located at 1048 N Alamo Road in Alamo. The musicians are selected by invitation only. However, the public is welcome to attend at no charge.
Maude (Carol) Agnew, a Winter Texan from Hamilton, Ontario Canada and her squad of volunteers promote and host each weekly jam.
Maude does a lot for her jams, park, and her community. Besides managing a bookstore and singing in a ladies’ barbershop chorus, Maude has helped raise monies for autism awareness plus dog services for children (Maude’s Run for Kids). She has performed since she was a teenager singing harmony with her brother’s rock and roll band. In her words, “music is a connection to feelings, friendships, smiles and love.”
Her squad is comprised of her husband Norm who helps set up and put away the equipment for each jam plus assists each musician on and oﬀ the stage. Bob Wiebe from Canada is the sound engineer with his wife Lily the video recording engineer. Other members of the squad include park residents who assist Norm, handling the concessions stand and 50/50.
The chosen stage band is comprised of Roy Ridlon (lead guitar/vocals), Beverly DeGraﬀ (guitar/ vocals), Bruce Johnston (upright bass) and Wayne Teeple (fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals). The drummers alternate between Isaac Martinez and Marty Fountain. Recent additions to the band include Blaine Garrelts (guitar and pedal steel guitar) and Kiley Barwick (drums/guitar/vocals) both from Nebraska.
During my three visits to the jam, the jammers who sang and performed included Delane Baunchen, Bart Bergquist-Iowa, Richard Daniel-Arkansas, Kenny Dose (concertina) and Joni Dose from MN, Joyce Hansen (mandolin)-Nebraska, Gordon Hildreth (guitar)-Ontario, Shelli and Tim Johnson (guitar)-MN, Pat Kent-MI, James Kropenske (guitar), Tony Ozark (guitar), Ryan Pels (guitar)-MN, Deral Rogers-Iowa, Dennis Schwiebert (bass and tuba), Banjo Bill Swartz (guitar/banjo)-WA, Susie Q Schutz-WA, Betty Thomas-Arkansas, and Lily and Bob Wiebe (guitar)-Canada.
The stage band features Beverly DeGraﬀ (guitar/vocals) from Missouri who is a self-taught musician and was motivated by her father to follow music. She performs at local jams and at church. She is retired from the US Navy as Chief Petty Oﬃcer and aircraft mechanic.
Bruce Johnston (upright bass), from Iowa, was inspired by his father at age 10 to follow music. He performed at church and school choirs and won a talent show leading to an appearance on the Merv Griﬃn TV show. He plays at eight weekly jams and has performed with the Randy Parks Country band and Jack Nelson County Line band.
Roy Ridlon from Minnesota plays lead guitar and does vocals. He has appeared on TV/Radio shows and performed with the Marvin Rainwater band. His career included both a heavy equipment operator and commercial pilot.
Wayne Teeple from Ontario Canada, sings and plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. He grew up on country music and started as a teenager singing in choirs and taking fiddle lessons. He has performed with the Terry Smith band and South Glen Fiddlers and performs at hospitals and senior communities. He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
My feature duet is Banjo Bill Swartz and Susie Q Schutz from the state of Washington. Susie provides harmony and performs with the tambourine. Bill provides vocals and plays the guitar, banjo, and harmonica. He was motivated by his older sister in the sixth grade to learn these musical instruments. He has performed with numerous bands including Highway 101 and Safire Blue. They perform at numerous jams in the RGV, in the western parts of America, at churches, retirement centers and union rallies. Bill has written and published over 50 rock and roll, country, and gospel songs. He also taught his son to perform with a guitar.
It’s always a delight to catch a country jam at Casa del Valle. Be sure to try and get out there and enjoy the Maude Squad and the jammers they bring to their park.