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Volunteers busy behind the scenes for Live on Stage

Published 5/2/2012

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

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Brad Nading/Telegram Members of White Ghost Shivers each try their hand at helping with a guitar solo during past a Southwest Kansas Live on Stage performance at Garden City High School's Clifford Hope Auditorium. The musical ensemble plays a musical collage of Hokum Blues, Hillbilly Swing, Country and Jazz.

Brad Nading/Telegram Members of White Ghost Shivers each try their hand at helping with a guitar solo during past a Southwest Kansas Live on Stage performance at Garden City High School's Clifford Hope Auditorium. The musical ensemble plays a musical collage of Hokum Blues, Hillbilly Swing, Country and Jazz.

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Laurie Sisk/Telegram Leigh Gibson, of The Gibson Brothers bluegrass band, entertains the audience at Clifford Hope Auditorium in a past Southwest Kansas Live On Stage.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram Leigh Gibson, of The Gibson Brothers bluegrass band, entertains the audience at Clifford Hope Auditorium in a past Southwest Kansas Live On Stage.

It takes a lot of teamwork, from many volunteers, to provide the type of entertainment that Southwest Kansas Live on Stage has been able to coordinate over the years. There are currently 34 of these volunteers, or board members, whose ages range anywhere from 16 on up.

"They're all volunteers, and they do whatever needs to be done," Carlene Schweer, president of the organization, said.

Ralph and Marilyn Germann of Garden City are two of these volunteers. Marilyn, who has been involved with the organization for 12 years, is the house chairperson, and Ralph has been the treasurer for the past four or five years.

"They were needing a treasurer real bad, and my wife volunteered me," Ralph Germann said with a laugh.

Marilyn goes above and beyond, when it comes to her role. She not only coordinates ushers and greeters for the performances, but she also provides home-cooked meals for the acts.

"I fix it here at home, and then take it up and then they eat it backstage," she said. "It's usually potato soup because you have to fix for vegetarians, too."

Ralph said the performers really appreciate it, as many of them are accustomed to eating fast food while on tour.

Her time spent in the kitchen depends on how large the group is.

"Some of them have like 15 to 18 people, and that takes a little bit more time in preparing for their food and stuff like that. Other times, you only have a single person or five or six people," she said.

Co-house chairperson Wynell Jones assists her with the larger groups.

None of the volunteers are paid for their efforts.

"We don't get a salary, reimbursement or anything like that," Ralph Germann said. "We just do it for the fun of doing it."

He said he averages eight to 10 hours per week in his duties as treasurer.

"Making all the deposits and paying the bills and the usual things," he said.

The couple said that they began attending concerts put on by the organization in 1968.

Since 1946, it has been providing musical entertainment to southwest Kansas. In the beginning, it was called Southwest Kansas Community Concert Association, later becoming Southwest Kansas Live on Stage. In that time, more than 260 concerts have been enjoyed by the community.

Schweer said that each year, the group aims to find the best possible acts to bring to the area.

"We bring professionals ... It's people either on their way up to being real well-known or people — we had Guy Penrod this last season here. He sang with the Gaither Group. He's very popular. He backed up for Elvis Presley, and he was wanting to change and kind of go into a little more of a little country flavor, and he's not with the Gaithers anymore and he's out on his own, and we brought him. So there are people like that who have been there and have done all the traveling and done all the tours but still want to get out and see their public," Schweer said.

The Germanns said that because of a variety of musical interests among community members, the group tries to provide a variety of acts.

"Some country western, some younger performers and classical, that kind of stuff," Ralph Germann said.

One of the acts scheduled to perform in October 2012 is Tap, a group of tap dancers, which according to the organization's website, www.swks-liveonstage.org, is described as being, "...fueled by a non-stop explosion of rhythmic energy ... this cast of eight award-winning dancers and two singers travels seamlessly over decades of styles ... included in this extravaganza are recreations of some of your favorite Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly numbers ... smooth and sultry soft shoe ... tribal Irish Step and more."

"Our community, being way out here, we don't get a lot of big-town entertainers — like New York City or even Nashville — and we try to bring those kinds of entertainers and artists out here for the community," Marilyn Germann said.

Despite the fact that the organization has been in existence so long, the Germanns are surprised that more people are not aware of the shows they put on.

"We find that it's probably the best kept secret in town because a lot of people just aren't aware of the kinds of shows we have," Ralph Germann said.

The organization provides memberships for $55 per season and because there are six to eight shows per season, the price per show is minimal.

"You could not go to one show in Denver for $55," Schweer said.

The concert season runs from September through March each year, and the board members of the organization plan the following season's schedule of performers one year in advance. The 2012-13 season begins Sept. 27, with one show per month, until the final show scheduled for May 15, 2013.

Acts scheduled for this season include Redhead Express and The Walker Family, Tap, Masters of Motown, The Abrams Brothers, Terry Barber, Prima Trio, Side Street Strutters and 42Five.

For more information, visit the Southwest Kansas Live on Stage website at www.swks-liveonstage.org.

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