Down Home Boys in concert on first night of rodeo

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Down Home Boys will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at the Cattleman Park.

The Down Home Boys will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at the Cattleman Park.

The Pike County Cattlemen’s 2013 PCA Rodeo weekend opens tonight with Family Night at Cattleman Park and continues Saturday night with rodeo and country music concerts both nights.

Tonight’s Professional Cowboy Association rodeo features professional cowboys and cowgirls from all across the Southeast and a country music concert by the Down Home Boys.

Ed Whatley, Pike County Cattlemen’s Association, executive director, said the rodeo will feature eight rodeo events and special events for children including mutton bustin’ and the calf scramble.

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Tickets for Family Night are $12 and children under the age of 12 are admitted free.

“We’ve got a great night of family fun planned for all ages,” Whatley said. “We invite everyone to come out and enjoy all the fun and excitement of rodeo and then stay around for the country music concert featuring the Down Home Boys.”

Whatley, laughingly, said he couldn’t say too many good things about the Down Home Boys because he’s one of them. But he could brag on the other members of the band that includes Ron Johnson, the dad of country music star, Jamey Johnson, who will be in concert at Cattleman Park Saturday night.

“Ron and I have been friends for a long time,” Whatley said. “Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, we were members of Cavalry Baptist Church in Montgomery and we both sang in the choir. Ron and I enjoyed singing so we put together a little band that included my sons, Chris and Andy, and my brother, Felix Whatley. We sang country and gospel and sang at churches and picnics.”

One minister said the band was so “down home” that he gave it the name, Down Home Boys, and it stuck.

Whatley said that Jamey Johnson was a “little fellow” and would make his presence know when the band practiced.

“Jamey loved the group ‘Alabama,’ and would pull a guitar around,” Whatley said. “He’d want us to show him chords and we would. He loved music.”

Time marched on and Whatley and his friend, Ron Johnson, went their separate ways. Then five or six years ago, their paths crossed again at the Whatley’s Fourth of July “get together.” The friends picked up where they left off, musically speaking.

“Then, last year when Jamey was at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center on New Year’s Eve, he asked Ron and me to come on stage and sing a song or two,” Whatley said, with obvious pride. “That was a big thing for us.”

Another “big thing” for the Down Home Boys will be taking center stage following the Pike County Cattlemen’s PCA Rodeo tonight.

The Down Home Boys concert will begin shortly after 9 p.m. and will last about an hour.

The concert will include some of the songs from the Down Home Boys hot-off-the-press album titled, “Down Home Boys in the Heart of Dixie.”

Gates at Cattleman Park will open at 5:30 p.m. so families can enjoy all of the kids’ activities including the Moon Walk, mechanical bull and the bungee jump. The concession booth will be open with plenty of choices for supper or snacks.

The rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. Times will be the same for Saturday’s rodeo and concert.