By Tony Hooker
It’s said that some people are born to sing and perform.
That axiom rings particularly true for Konnie Crist, who will be performing with his band, Old Country, at the Ag Days Villa Grove State Bank Stage on Saturday, August 7.
What was the first song you ever sung?
“Too Fat Polka” on WDZ radio when I was six years old. That’s the first time I ever sang in public, but I think I came out singing!
When was that?
1946 or 47.
Have you been performing in public since then?
You’ve probably performed three or four thousand shows, what’s your most memorable performance?
I played for the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, in 1973 at the Illinois State Fair.
What sort of music did you play for him?
I’ve played country music my whole life. Classic country.
And is that what you’re going to be playing at Ag Days?
You’ve also put out a gospel album, right?
Yes, and we’ll probably do some gospel at Ag days, also.
Tell me a little about your band? This isn’t the Gunny Sack Revue?
No, it’s a little different. I play rhythm guitar and sing. My granddaughter, Hailey Crist, who’s 14 plays the fiddle and sings. She can play any instrument you put in front of her. She’s passed grandpa up, for sure. <smiles> Aaron Dunn plays drums and sings. Bill Levitt and Terry Henson play lead guitar. Scotty Baker plays steel guitar and Tom Campbell plays bass. Barb Chumbley and Bryan Dunn are also on vocals.
I didn’t have a band, so I put this one together! I play in two other bands, but I wanted one of my own, so I got this together.
What can folks who come out to watch you expect?
Just good, classic country. We have a fantastic steel guitar player, a great lead guitar player and me! <smiles>
You’ve played with these folks before?
Oh yea, some of them are in GSR with me. I started playing with Scottie Baker in 1964, in Parkville. <laughs>
Have you ever toured and played in other states?
I’ve played in Houston, TX, Colorado Springs, DuQuoin, we played four or five years in a row at the Illinois State Fair. I’ve played the high places and I’ve played the dumps! <laughs> I played for Cardinal Bernardin with G.I. Drury, another Villa Grove alum, at the Decatur Knights of Columbus, years ago.
How long are you going to keep doing this?
I won’t be 80 until August. Hell, I’m not even old yet! <laughs>