Amanda Kari and Johnny Lee Hang out after the show and enjoy some laughs
The Roscommon County Sheriff’s Posse is the volunteer based mounted (horses) division used for search and rescue. The Posse is also brought in for event security around the county and as a backup for the County Sheriff Deputies. Since 2005, the Posse has sponsored the Summertime In God’s Country music concert event. Each year, different musical talent is brought in to perform at the Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts (KCPA) on the main campus on Kirtland Community College (KCC) in Roscommon. Working with Rick Middleton of Wolverine Productions, the Posse welcomed Amanda Kari and the famous Johnny Lee and the Urban Cowboy Band to the stage on Thursday, August 29th. .
Guests first saw “Sammy the Safety Horse,” a life-size fiberglass statue of a horse that sports the Posse logo before they were greeted by Posse members as they entered the auditorium. Coming close to a capacity crowd, people waited with great anticipation and eagerness for the show to get started. It was noted that proceeds from the concert would help the Posse pay for improvements and electronic equipment for the counties new investigation room housed in the Annex building, along with the numerous Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs that are held throughout the county for children.
First to take the stage was Amanda Kari. Graduating from Beaverton High School, Kari was an award recipient of the DARE scholarship and won the Northwest Michigan Talent Contest. Adding to her accomplishments, Kari has won the West Branch Idol, Ogemaw County Idol, Northern Michigan Has Talent, WGDN 103.1 FM Talent Showcase, Best Female Country Vocalist with the Bay Area Review Magazine Awards, and the Dow Fantasy Camp Idol competitions.
Kari is no stranger to the big stage either. She has opened for national recording artists like Blake Shelton, David Ball, George Hamilton IV and Ronnie Prophet. Cutting her own CD’s consisting of original songs she has wrote mixed with cover songs, Kari mixes it up with country, classic country, easy listening, Motown and Oldies. She can also belt out the gospel, Christian and Patriotic songs. Her demo track CD will be pitched to major music recording labels in Nashville this coming spring.
Kari took to the KCPA stage joking about her size. Performing while pregnant, very pregnant as she put it, Kari did not let her condition slow her down or hamper her voice as she wailed out song after song for the excited and extremely interactive audience. Joking that she was due in a week, jokes were being made about the Posse being present as well as several firefighters that were cross-trained in EMS procedures. After her crowd pleasing performance, Kari sat in the lobby and held an autograph and photo session. (The line was long.)
Johnny Lee may be a name some may not recognize at first, but his list of accomplishments is long and well deserved. Hailing from Texas, Lee was your typical small town kid. After two tours in Vietnam, he returned to start a music career, performing with Mickey Gilley. Adding screen to music, Lee started to appear in film in 1979. First, he appeared in The Girls in the Office, and then appeared in the famous Urban Cowboy, which starred John Travolta and Deborah Winger. Lee recorded several of the songs for the soundtrack including Looking For Love, which would quickly become his first Gold Record.
While on stage at KCPA, Lee intertwines stories and comedy to his music. Towards the end of his show, he put aside the jokes and stories to get serious about the United States Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment. An avid and hardcore supporter of gun rights, Lee noted, The Second Amendment is one of our rights under the great Constitution of this country, and I will be damned if it gets taken away.” That statement led to the introduction of his brand new single titled “Bullets First.”
Apologizing for playing longer than he was supposed to (he was scheduled for an hour and played almost two); Lee took the time to thank all the Veterans and active duty service members as well as the KCPA staff. “It is so nice to work with professionals. The sound and lighting people were great. KCPA is a class act. I was nervous coming up here. I thought the Garmin (GPS) was wrong as we just kept driving and driving down a long road lined with trees. All of a sudden, it said turn left here. I laughed and thought, no way. I have to say, it is beautiful up here!”
Crowd interaction did manage to keep Lee on stage for a few more songs. Leaving the stage for a quick minute as the Urban Cowboy Band played; Lee returned for yet another song. Once finished, the night was far from over as Lee was in the lobby for an autograph and photo session.
By Kevin Howe
Roscommon County Sheriff Posse President Sandy Bruhn and Vice-President Christina Rubino pose with Sammy the Safety Horse