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Dakota Opry, Poker Alice Band offer country concert

Thursday, July 29, 2004

"The Dakota Opry," a two-hour music show from South Dakota, makes its Iowa debut at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, at the Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, with special guest artists, Iowa's own old-time country stars Bob and Sheila Everhart.

The Everharts join Dakota Opry stars John and Susan McNeill, Owen DeJong, and Nick Schwebach, who are familiar to those who have seen one of three presentations of "A Celebration of Hank Williams" at the center. The musicians return to the center's Lauridsen Theatre for the first time with Owen and Nick's acclaimed Poker Alice Band.

"The Dakota Opry" mixes original songs with the classics of old-time country, country-western, western swing, folk, and American popular song, according to producer Doug Sharples. "It's two hours of non-stop music," said Sharples.

John McNeill emcees the show and sings original cowboy songs and country classics with his wife. One of South Dakota's most prolific songwriters, McNeill is the master of ceremonies and a regular performer at Gayville Hall in Gayville, S.D., where "The Dakota Opry" originated. He created the hall's Hank Williams and Johnny Cash tributes.

An international star of traditional old-time country music, Everhart recorded six albums on the Smithsonian Folkways label and was host for seven years of the PBS TV show, "Old-Time Country Music," which was broadcast in 22 states. He has been a headliner at European festivals since the 1970's and founded the National Old Time Traditional Country Music Festival.

The Lakes Art Center is at 2201 Highway 71 in Okoboji. Tickets are $20. Call the box office at 712-332-7029.