The Salty Seniors
The Salty Senior Band started as a joke three years ago. A group of senior adults from Waterloo Baptist Church went out to dinner and one talented person entertained them by putting put a spoon on her nose. LaVonne McConnico carried the joke forward by striking two spoons together in a rhythm. Others joined in.
Someone spoke up, "We're really good. We ought to start a band." The name came easily because the pastor preached that morning on the salt of the earth.
LaVonne, of course, never thought it would happen, but in the next few days several people called her up and asked, "When are we going to practice?"
"I pulled some tambourines from the closet and a few of us got together," said LaVonne, a member of the church for seven years. "The instruments were from my sons' Cub Scouts thirty years ago when they imitated a hillbilly band on Hee Haw."
"At first, it sounded like a lot of noise," said LaVonne. "We practiced for several weeks until our first performance. By then there were nine or ten of us."
Each person in the senior band plays a different musical instrument, such as a one string harp or washboards or rubboards, depending upon where you grew up, a slide whistle, and a frog. A stumph fiddle made with a plunger, strings and pompoms is played by Bobbie. It has her name on it; her maiden name is Stump.
"We're a crazy bunch. We all wear red hats, purple shirts and gold shoes. We have so much fun, it's hard not to laugh. We're an unusual assortment of personalities and characters from all walks of life. All performers are from Edmond and from thirteen years old to eighty something."
When the snare drummer played too loud, LaVonne suggested paint brushes instead of drum sticks. Two others play the wash tubs, one concert and one parlor size, called His'n and Her'n. Another is learning to play the saw.
Most instruments are ‘rhythmy' and painted either purple or red. The hammered dulcimer and cello are the only ‘real' instruments besides a piano.
Big Jack, wearing a size 4X purple T-shirt, dons rubber fishing boots painted gold and a red ball cap with the top pinned back. He plays an acoustic toilet seat guitar and his wife plays a keyboard with a guitar strap on it and a mouse called Dr. Livingston because it has gone on mission trips around the world.
"We do fun, fast-paced songs and many are old hymns," said LaVonne. The group simulates a thunder storm, with audience participation. A rain stick slowly tilted sounds like rain.
"Everyone in the group performs and we have solos, trios and quartets. I'm the only one who can't sing." LaVonne coordinates the group, choosing songs and setting appointments. "The best thing I like is the fellowship. I love seeing people smile and laugh and for the audience to sing with us. It's a unique way of serving the Lord."
The band, one of the church's senior adult ministries, practices once a month in the choir room. "Before we start, I tell the group to be yourself and have fun," said LaVonne. "There's plenty of spontaneity and lots of talent. We honor the Lord as we perform and bring some entertainment to our audiences."
"The response to Salty Seniors has been phenomenal," said LaVonne. The group has performed at many retirement centers and churches, and although they don't charge for performances, sometimes offerings are given.
"This didn't just happen. Each person has their own story about how they came to be in the group. Like Neal and Dorothy Little, who are newly weds in their seventies." Big Jack briefly presents the gospel, weaving it with humor. LaVonne's daughter Cheryl, as road crew, sets up for the group while wearing a T-shirt with ‘Roadie' on the front.
Erma Cox, the original pianist, plays excellent rag time music. In her eighties, last year she fell and broke both arms and her piano position was replaced. Susan Pennington, the new pianist, was an answer to prayer. After Erma recovered, she decided to return to the group and play the fiddle.
"It doesn't matter whether she knows how to play it or not," LaVonne laughed. "She'll learn and the group needs her."
Several Salty Seniors members come from other states and cannot speak Okie. "We're working on that," Lavonne said. "We take our humor seriously and can adapt the program to any audience."
The group now has over twenty members but not everyone can be at every performance. "If anyone wants to serve the Lord with song and humor, this is the place to be."
"Salty Seniors are like a bunch of ingredients thrown on the table all together," said LaVonne. "You don't know what dish will come out. But, I must say, it's turned out pretty good. It's a fine group of people and we've ministered to each other. Laughter is good for the soul and so is praising the Lord."
Is a trip to Branson likely? Possibly. After they purchase a tour bus.
To book the Salty Seniors for a performance or for more information call LaVonne McConnico at 405-642-0512 or 405-341-5445. Her email address is [email protected].