As part three of its 2017 Concert Series, First United Methodist Church in Center presents in concert the band Watlington, Peppard, Shelton, and Scott. The group of veteran musicians will lead praise and worship, present original material, and provide audience-interactive musical comedy Saturday night, May 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm in the FUMC Fellowship Hall.
All four of the musicians are familiar to local audiences. Vocalist and keyboardist Chris Watlington is a native of Center. He teaches at CHS, directs music at FUMC, and has various responsibilities as a radio personality at Center Broadcasting.
Guitarist and vocalist Spence Peppard performs in churches all over east Texas while working as a recording specialist and studio musician in Nacogdoches. He and his family own and operate Peppard Motor Company in Nacogdoches.
Bass player Bill Scott is a product of North Texas Music School where he was bassist in the 2:00 Jazz Band. For three years, Bill was a music teacher and choir director at Center Intermediate and Center High School. This year’s 8th, 9th, and 10th graders will remember Mr. Scott.
Drummer Jeff Shelton has performed in several local churches. He is a teacher and director of the drum line at Grace Community School in Tyler, but he began his teaching career at Center High School which is where he and Watlington met.
From 1994 until 2007, the four musicians were part of the Gary Ritchey Band (GRB) which recorded three CDs and were working on a fourth when Ritchey, the lead singer, moved to San Antonio. The band performed locally at First Baptist Church but over its 14 year career together, GRB played in eight states in concerts ranging from youth groups of a dozen to state conventions with attendance in the tens of thousands.
After Ritchey relocated to San Antonio, the members of the group have developed diverse resumes, playing with artists and groups ranging from Kacey Lansdale, Tom Houston, Ray Price, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rance Mosely, Al Denson, Broadmoor Baptist Church, Park Cities Baptist, Green Acres Baptist, and Miranda Lambert. When the band has played together, it is usually under a different name every show.
My name is at the front of the list for our Saturday concert, Watlington says. That is only because we are performing in my hometown. If we were to play in Tyler, Shelton™ name would be first. Nacogdoches? Peppard would be first. In fact, when Gary first left the band, we played under the name Gary’s Gone. It didn’t catch on, though.
From its days as GRB, the group specializes in a variety of music and styles. It also enjoys hearing its audience laugh.
We like to create music from audience suggestion, Watlington said. Normally the improvised stuff is fun and funny. At least we hope it will be!
Peppard has been working with Danny Paul Windham in the studio for his upcoming recording project. Peppard is playing almost every part in the studio, so he is very familiar with Windham’s music. As a result, Danny Paul will be a guest performer with the band, debuting some of the recorded material.
Saturday’s performance may be the band’s last for awhile. Scott has retired from teaching and is a full-time touring performer whose duties keep him away from east Texas more than in the past. Shelton is a first call studio performer in the Tyler area. And Peppard has gotten so busy as a studio and live performer for artists in Nashville, that he and his family are moving there this summer.
Despite the humor and the opportunity to perform with Shelby County original Dr. Windham, the band’s mainstay is contemporary pop and rock, both concert material and praise and worship.
We hope you leave with a smile on your face, sure, Watlington said. But most importantly, we hope your spirit will be filled with the music of Christ.