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Paying Tribute

Gloria Jean and Hot Hits Orchestra showcase the works of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline at casino

Steve Begnoche -
Managing Editor
Monday, March 1, 2010
By Steve Begnoche Managing Editor

Manistee Twp. —For nearly 90 minutes Saturday night the events center at the Little River Casino Resort was turned into a juke box of the hits of singers Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline.

With three costume changes, accurate and enjoyable vocals by singer Gloria Jean in tribute to Lynn and Cline, and with solid backing from the Hot Hits Orchestra, the decent-sized crowd got a glimpse of the music of two strong women of country music’s heritage.

With a flowing wig of dark hair, a burgundy full-length dress and a brilliant smile, Gloria Jean began the show as the Coal Miner’s daughter, Loretta Lynn.

She did five songs from Lynn’s extensive songbook including the signature songs “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You’re Lookin’ at Country” before exiting while the orchestra did a Charlie Daniels tune that allowed them all to get some solo and spotlight time. Bob Galombek, a Muskegon native, introduced members of the Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minn.-based orchestra, including two other Michigan natives.

When Gloria Jean came back to the stage, she was wearing a simple outfit close to what Cline wore on the covers of her “Showcase” and “20 Greatest Hits” albums: a white shirt, red pedal pushers, white bobby socks and tennis shoes. And the long hair was gone.

Gloria Jean sang 15 songs from the Cline songbook including the classics “Too Far Away/Just Out of Reach,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walkin’ After Midnight” early in the set to win over the cordial and somewhat quiet but seemingly appreciative crowd.

She shared tidbits of information about the singer who crossed musical genres and throughout her career appealed more to adult audiences than youth — Cline didn’t write songs, couldn’t read music well and only played a little bit of piano. Instead Cline relied on her voice and interpretations of others’ songs including one Willie Nelson wrote that has become her signature song, “Crazy,” recorded while in pain from injuries suffered in a near-fatal car accident. Gloria Jean made no attempt to stay in character between songs, preferring to be herself and share insights into Lynn’s and Cline’s lives. But when she sang, a true and eerily accurate interpretation put the focus on Lynn and Cline.

Before the final five songs of the night, the band stretched out again in fine fashion. When Gloria Jean came back on stage she was adorned in a black-sequined formal dress and black gloves to close out the evening. Notable was “Just a Closer Walk,” inspired by Cline’s Southern Baptist upbringing. Several members of the orchestra left their instruments to join Gloria Jean as Cline’s back-up singing group, the Jordanaires.

“Rose of San Antoine” closed out the evening.

Gary Castonia of Ludington, fresh back from a Tiger Fantasy Camp in Lakeland, Fla., thought the show was good but he was disappointed the song selections weren’t split more evenly between Lynn and Cline selections.

He said he is more of a Loretta Lynn fan so he wanted to hear more of her songs.

“Some of the Patsy Cline songs she did were pretty good, though,” he said.

The lineup following the show for autographs and Gloria Jean merchandise might suggest the tribute artist won some new fans among the old fans of Lynn and Cline.

 
 
 

For more information please contact:

Gloria Wieneke • lorettatribute@yahoo.com • 507-358-7190
Bob Galombeck • Bob@Hothitsmusicgroup.com • 612-388-9825

       
       
lorettatribute@yahoo.com