Keeping the country in the music |

Keeping the country in the music

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado – They got the music in their hearts.

But these country western rockers and swooners aren’t just looking to jam. The members of Bessie and Friends Band want to spread a few smiles across the faces of senior citizens and others in the area.

The band member’s fingers might show their ages ” which range from about 75 to 81 years old ” but the music those fingers can pluck makes a few senior citizens in the area skip a step.

The Bessie and Friends Band plays for seniors at the Silt Fire Station and at a veterans nursing home in Rifle.

“We will usually eat with the (seniors) and visit, and get up and play for them and they’re happy,” said Bessie Burr, 75, whose name fronts the band’s marquee. “That’s all we’re there for, which is to lift them up and make them feel good.”

Most of the band’s music is a reprise of classic country western hits by Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and female singers such as Patsy Cline and many others.

Burr, who is the lead singer in the band, said she and Clara Cross, 81, of Rifle, began playing together when their husbands died in the early 1990s. They met each other while working together at a Rifle nursing home in the 1980s. The times they shared there is why they have a “heart” for playing for senior residents, Burr said.

“We’ve got it now where we’ve been playing together for the last 10 years,” Burr said.

Through the years different people have played with Cross and Burr in the band, but for right now, the band comprises Burr, Cross and Silt rancher Louis Fenno.

Burr, of Rifle, described her role in the band as an “entertainer.” She sings and emcees the band’s performances, she said.

“I get out and talk to (audience members) and shake hands,” Burr said. “That is the way I am.”

Cross plays the guitar in the band, but also plays for other groups in the area. She said she has been playing the instrument for most of her life.

“When I was a kid, we had an old guitar with some kind of (rough) strings,” said Cross, remembering how she picked up playing the guitar. “It made your fingers pretty sore.”

Cross said she enjoys playing in the band, especially when the audience members “get out and dance.”

“Some of them like to line dance,” Cross said of audience members at some of their performances.

Cross said she continues playing in the band so she won’t forget how to play, she said laughing.

“No, it’s because I want to keep in practice,” she said. “I enjoy it if I don’t make too many boo-boos.”

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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