By JB Funky
The Four Wunnerful Women
Gail Farrell, Ava Barber, Ralna English & Mary Lou Metzger
It was a nice spring Sunday, and as a Welkie and recent new member of Yahoo! Welknotes, today was a event that I was giddy for several FIRST Welk live concert, I was finally going to experience the hoopla, excitement and thrills that countless others have experienced for a long time, plus I would be able to meet some of my new online friends I had made on Welknotes! Even though the maestro is with us only in spirit, having his musical family carry the tradition is very exciting indeed.
This concert is the "Four Wunnerful Women" tour, which consists of original Welk show members Gail Farrell, Ralna English, Mary Lou Metzger and Ava Barber...which by the way are ALL WOMEN...hence the name of the tour. Today's show was held at the Valentine Theatre in downtown Toledo, my hometown by the way, on Sunday, May 19, 2002..which happens to be Bobby Burgess's birthday! I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was eager to find out anyway.
This was my first visit to the historic theater, and I must admit that they did a swell job bringing it back to life. Anyway, I took my seat inside and the place was packed with Welk enthusiasts.
I was able to meet some of my Welknotes pals, talked champagne music and trade tales of concerts past. Finally, the show opened....Gail, Ralna, Mary Lou & Ava came out to warm reception. They looked great and I can tell that the excitement and enthusiasm was in the air. Tragically...I wasn't able to take any pictures during the show, theater managment forbids any flash photography going off during the performance.
In spite of that, it was a great show....Mary Lou was versitle singing, "Oh Johnny," and "Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me!" and tap dancing. Gail was quite the piano player playing tunes like "Beer Barrell Rag." Ava was a ham, especially when she did "Y'all Come," she had two men from the audience join in! And Ralna, was on top of her game, bringing down the house with "Tangerine" and "How Great Thou Art."
Ralna posing for my camera!
But, it wasn't all strictly an all-girls affair...some of the men were in on the fun as well. Mary Lou's husband, longtime Welk show bassist Richard Maloof showed off his magic plucking fingers on the bass throughout the show, Ava's husband Roger Sullivan dazzled the drumsticks just like Johnny Klein did years and years fact his rendition of "Wipeout" brought down the house! The entire show was spectacular....with a mish mash of patriotic, dixieland jazz, old standards, choral arrangements and complete vaudeville, just like the old television show itself! But the best part was after the show when the audience got a chance to meet the cast, sign autographs and take which I was well prepared for by the way. I got to know the folks a little better, very friendly and nice, and I even got some bits of Welk memorbilia to show off. One of those was an old cover of a celebrity tabolid magazine from 1971 that had Lawrence surrounded by his girls....and Gail was pretty surprised I had it with me when I was getting her autograph. I also continued to have converstaions with my friends from Welknotes....and some even helped out with the pictures too!!! In all, it was a memorable first time expericence for me....I was so Welked up for weeks after led me to take serious action, such as to put together my comprehensive scrapbook collection. Plus, I also got books and more artifacts from ebay.
That Sunday afternoon in May was one that I would NOT forget.
Mary Lou Metzger also poses for the camera
From the Valentine in May....
Gail, Ava, Ralna, myself...the webmaster, Mary Lou, along with two other Welkies posing for their Kodak moment.
"Country Gal" Ava Barber