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COLUMN: Sawyer Brown still rocking after 31 years

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By Linda Ireland

 When I told my daughter Amanda that my husband Bud and I were going to a Sawyer Brown concert, she had one question:

“Are they still performing? “

She had that look on her face that implied the “Boys in the Band” may be rolling their wheelchairs onstage or gumming their dinner, that sort of thing.

Amanda was one-year-old when Mark Miller, Hobie Hubbard, Joe Smyth, Bobby Randall and Jim Scholten combined talents to win the very first Star Search – the forerunner of American Idol – in 1984. I remember watching them – with their outlandish wardrobe and Miller’s high energy dancing – while they sang “Leona.” 

I’ve been watching and listening ever since. They’ve remained my favorite band over the years if for no other reason than Miller, also a songwriter, managed to rhyme the words “whuppin’” and “cookin’” in “Thank God for You.”

Mostly though, they’ve managed to put out songs that reflect what I’ve gone through or remind me of people I’ve known. 

When I was younger, there were those catchy, fun songs like “Step That Step” and “Betty’s Being Bad.” I’m pretty sure the song “Some Girls Do” was written about my nephew Brent.

As I got older, so did the band.

“The Dirt Road” makes me think of my dad; “The Walk” of both of my parents; and “Café on the Corner” brings to mind anyone who ever lost anything that meant something to them. 

Those were just a few of the songs they sang Saturday at Renfro Valley but only a handful of songs from their 31-year career. 

And Miller, that fine wiry man, still had the dance moves. He had a bald head and bifocals too – but that was OK.

He sang from the heart – and the crowd responded. Near the concert’s end, I walked toward the stage with about 200 other folks in hopes of getting a handshake from him. I nearly tripped over an older lady’s quad-cane (I’m not making that up) which delayed me from reaching the front row – so no touching of that fine, wiry man for me. 

Was it bad luck or just bad timin’? It’s hard to say.

I did get some nice photos though.

During the concert, Miller and Hubbard made a pitch for a missionary program called “Compassion International.” They encouraged the audience to sponsor a child from another country, assisting with medical, economic and spiritual needs. Hubbard sponsors a child named “Julio.”

Miller shared a few personal tidbits about his 22-year marriage to the same woman and their two children.

So many groups are worried more about encouraging their audience to purchase their newest CD or overpriced T-shirts. It was refreshing to hear Sawyer Brown’s message – like their songs, from the heart.

(More information about Compassion International is available at www.compassion.com.)