The only words I can think of to describe Buzz Cason are talented, creative, red-necked and Southern gentleman. I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms but he is all of the above.
He is a soft-spoken mannerly Southern gentleman when you meet him. Then his red-necked humor takes over and you are immediately captivated. He told the audience at the Pearson Lakes Art Center story after humorous story Wednesday night.
Between jokes he sang many of the songs he co-wrote for some of the biggest names in the music industry. He took us on a music history trip back to the early 1960s and brought us from those beginnings to today. It was highly entertaining as he is best friends with Jimmy Buffet, has performed with such notables as Elvis, Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, John Denver and George Jones.
He sang for us his hit song "Soldier of Love" which was made into a hit at various times by the Beatles, Pearl Jam and Marshall Crenshaw. We in the audience sang along with him as he did his original version written as a rhythm and blues song.
Cason wrote songs about everyday life. His funny tune "Stuck in Traffic" was written sitting in a traffic line. We all could laugh as we related to that situation (especially with the Fourth of July coming up). Buzz didn't appear to take himself too seriously. "After all, I am a rock 'n' roll writer in Nashville, of all places," he chuckled.
Even restauranteur Terry Yarns (Remington's, Okoboji Bagel), who was seated next to me, got quite a chuckle out of his song "Barbecue." The lyrics went something like this: "Ain't anything you can't barbecue, frogs, snakes ... even bologna." I think Yarns would have trouble offering barbecued bologna on his menu.
Since Cason had toured England in 1964 with The Crickets, he sang a medley of Buddy Holly songs and we all got to sing along. That was great fun!
After intermission the Rockabilly and Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame inductee opened with "Hey Baby" followed by the original version of "Shake, Rattle & Roll." Needless to say, there was "a whole lotta shakin' goin' on" as we all became very adept at chair dancing.
I enjoyed the title song of his newest CD "Troubadour Heart" as its lyrics were heartfelt. He sang several of his newest originals such as "When I Go To California," "'The Waiting" and "Midnight Sun," a song about horse racing.
He sang for us a song he co-wrote for Mel Tillis called "A Million Old Goodbyes" and the audience responded very favorably to it. We sang along with much gusto when Cason did "I'll Fly Away." I personally like the song he wrote for the Oak Ridge boys called "Glory Bound."
He ended the show with the song we had all been waiting all evening to hear -- "Everlasting Love" and we sang along with fervor.
I talked with the prolific songwriter after the show and mentioned that I hoped he would return to Okoboji someday. He admitted he had fallen in love with our little corner of God's world.
"You all have the best kept secret in the country right here. It is beautiful and friendly and I can't wait to come back," Cason said. I hope he does. We all need a dose of his matter-of-fact down home humor and amazing repertoire of music to help us stop and appreciate all that we have and are as neighbors and friends here in the Lakes Area.
It was Tom Tourville's last show as Pearson Lakes Art Center Executive Director. He left the art center on a very high note.