WALKER -- When Scott Icenogle was a young boy performing at the Old South Jamboree, Lester Hodges always requested the same song.
No matter what, Hodges would implore Icenogle to sing Ray Price’s 1958 chart-topper “City Lights,” which country songwriter Bill Anderson penned while sitting on the roof of a three-story hotel in a small Georgia town.
So when he made his first trip to the Old South Jamboree in nearly two decades, Icenogle decided to bring back the beloved country tune for “Mr. Lester,” the man who opened and operated the music venue for nearly 50 years.
“Lord, I miss that man,” Icenogle said. “Mr. Lester this is for you.”
Icenogle headlined a night of country music and entertainment during the Old South Jamboree’s first show of the New Year on Saturday, Jan. 4.
A large crowd packed into the historic music venue, where a full slate of musicians and singers performed on the same stage that has seen the likes of country legends Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Conway Twitty, among a long list of others.
For Icenogle, it was more of a reunion.
Icenogle has spent his recent years in Nashville, where he’s become a well-known bass player, vocalist, and session player. He also spent more than three years singing backup for singer-songwriter Wanda Jackson.
But he got his start at the Old South Jamboree.
During his set, Icenogle said his last performance at the Old South came in the late 1990s and before that in 1985 — when he was about 13 years old. A picture from one of his early performances still hangs in the front hallway of the building, Old South Jamboree manager Carlton Jones pointed out.
“He’s not 12 anymore,” Jones said.
In addition to Icenogle, the Old South also welcomed back to the stage the River City Boys, a three-person band out of Baton Rouge that has performed at the historic music venue several times over the last year.
The band is made up of performers Kell Johnson, Murray Clark and Dennis Smith and features two of the founding members of the River City Good Tyme Band. The trio, which specializes in three-part harmonies and focuses on a wide variety of genres, closed both sets.
Other performers during Saturday’s show included longtime Jamboree favorites Anita LeBlanc, Tom Dawson, Tommy Raborn, June Barker, Deb Carpenter, Nan Gautreau, and Ed Kinchen.
All performers were backed by the Old South band, featuring Jones on the guitar, Robert Reynolds on the drums, Randy Blackwell on the pedal steel. Larry and Maxine Whitfield provided backup vocals.
The next show at the Old South Jamboree will be Saturday, Feb. 1. Admission to the shows is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. Refreshments including hot dogs, popcorn, and cold drinks are available.
The Old South Jamboree is located at 9554 Florida Blvd. in Walker, between the Juban Road and Walker exits. For more information about the Old South Jamboree, call (225) 936-0349 or visit www.oldsouthjamboree.webs.com.