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Paradise Park 02 webOn Tuesday, January 23, I entered this amazing 55+ park’s recreational hall to be greeted by nearly 200 lovers of country and gospel music who warmly welcomed me to Paradise Park (100 E. Hackberry). I was also welcomed by Dolly Mireles, activity director, Rosemary, the office manager, and Andy Anderson, the manager of the jam/stage band and one of the lead guitarists and vocalists.

This jam is one of the more popular music jams according to the jammers who were interviewed. A large amount of the credit, according to the jammers, is due to the members of the stage band. Along with Andy Anderson, there is Ed Augstein, tenor sax; Claude Babin, keyboard; Al Cully, bass guitar; Larry Lange, lead guitar and vocals; Rich Rohrback, pedal steel guitar and vocals; and Dean Schilling on trumpet and vocals. The jam also has a master of ceremonies, David Harston, who announces each musician and recites poems.

Paradise Park 03 webIn addition to the stage band, this jam had 32 jammers. They were John Bennett, guitar; Bart Bergquist; Ed Blac; Dwight Blackman; Ann Butler; Randy and Sharon Calendar; Richard Daniel; Lenny Falcone, guitar; Sandy Grady; Ralph Hartnicker; Jane Heinen; Billy J Hicks; Charles Josephes, guitar; Jane Kumor; Gilles LaFlamme, Guitar; Elaine Nelson, guitar; Judy O’Hair; Joy Padgett; Bob Powell; Gary Rene; Rusty Rierson, guitar; Carole Robinson, guitar; Deral Rogers, guitar; Al Schulz, guitar; Susie Q Schutz; Peggy Soucek, guitar; Wally Sternberg, banjo; Carolyn Sternberg, accordion; Bill Swatz, guitar; Betty Thomes; and Marilyn.

My featured musician is from Madison, Wisconsin, Andy Anerson, who, with his wife Jeanne (keyboard), have toured throughout the US and Canada. They performed as Feather River “Little Band with the Big Sound.” Their music was deep seated in country and included 50’s rock, southern rock, polkas, Latin, R&B, and others.

Paradise Park 04 webAndy started his musical adventure at age 15, motivated by his music teachers and uncles as he was performing in school bands with his trombone, bass guitar, lead guitar and vocals. Andy has performed on TV and has produced CD’s. He has performed with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Sonny James, Dottie West, Charlie Pride, Stonewall Jackson, Del Reeves, Skeeter Davis, Waylon Jennings, and many other famous musicians.

Andy now performs at jams at McAllen’s Paradise Park, Split Rail in Mission, Greengate Grove in Palmview, and others. He also performs for people at non-profit organizations. In summary, when asked why you entertain and perform, his response is “For the love and passion for music.”

The Paradise Park property was purchased in 1971 by two Minnesotans, Robert Lind and Jim Olsen. In November 1971, Opal and Woody Williams purchased the first unit in the park with Opal being the longest living member of the park as of 2007. In 1982, the park formed a corporation which remains today as Paradise Park, Inc.