RETURNING TO HIS ROOTS

Gordon County native Monty Powell, far left, with his band, Troubadour 77, at a recent concert performance. Powell is bringing the band to the GEM Theatre on Friday, June 1, for a special concert, “Monty Powell’s Highway 41 Revisited,” to benefit Resource Center of Gordon County.

Fulfilling a longtime goal, Gordon County native Monty Powell set to play benefit concert for Family Resource Center of Gordon County at GEM Theatre

Gordon County native son Monty Powell has accomplished almost everything he set out to do when he left for Nashville to make music many years ago.

An award-winning songwriter with more than 35 years in the music business, he has penned songs for such artists as his friend, Keith Urban, along with Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Cagle, James Otto, Diamond Rio and many others.

Now, Powell is bringing his musical talents home to Gordon County for the benefit concert, “Monty Powell’s Highway 41 Revisited,” to raise money for Family Resource Center of Gordon County. The concert will be held at the GEM Theatre on Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. Powell will be performing with his new band, Troubadour 77, along with special guests Revolver and Ricky Gunn.

The Family Resource Center of Gordon County has recently moved to a larger, more accessible location at 320 North River Street NW in Calhoun. Created in 1984 when a group of Gordon County citizens met to discuss their concerns about the maltreatment of children in the community, Family Resource Center then became a chartered council of the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia in 1986 and continues to grow each year.

Family Resource Center works to create awareness within the community by dispersing information and materials about child development, child abuse and neglect, parent education, and other relevant topics, to be the driving force behind the prevention effort in our county, along with providing programs that teach parents and caregivers more effective skills and supporting families with programs that include everyone from infant to adult, both married and single parents.

“The new building gives us more potential,” said Angela White, executive director of the Family Resource Center. “For exmaple, with therapy. We now have a group therapy that we provide and use a group art room. So one day a week, we provide a group art therapy session for girls ages 10 - 14 who have suffered some form of abuse. The girls can come and talk about it and see that other people have been through the same thing.

“We also have been able to expand our relative support,” continued White. “It’s called ‘Family Ties’ and it’s our Relative Care-Giver Program.”

According to the Family Resource Center, when family steps in to raise children, it can be a rewarding experience, as it maintains stability and permanency for the child, all while preserving the connection to their family. However, while relatives may be willing to step in and care for these children, doing so can often present unexpected difficulties. Through respecting what is special and unique to each family, providing accurate information on existing, available resources, and providing educational information on a variety of topics, the Family Ties program seeks to further strengthen the committed and caring relatives’ abilities to maintain supportive and stable environments for these children.

“We now have a big activity room so we can have dinner and have everyone together during Family Ties, then the adult caregivers meet in a support group and we have volunteers that do fun things with the kids while the meeting is taking place,” said Wilson.

Performing at the GEM has been in Powell’s plans for a while, and a long-time friend with connections to Family Resource Center helped him plan the concert.

“I’ve been wanting to play a show at the GEM for several years, to come back to Calhoun and play,” said Powell. “Back in the ‘70s, they had a couple of music shows there when it was still a movie theater. I wanted to recreate that, because I had played in one of those when I was a teenager. I’ve been thinking about what to bring back to my hometown. Just a couple of years ago, I started this late-in-life rock band called Troubadour 77, and I thought, ‘This would be a really good version to bring back to Calhoun.’ Troubadour 77 is like a classic rock band, even though it’s a new band. I wound up in a Facebook conversation with my old best friend, Scott Gregg- the best friend I ever had growing up. We brainstormed about it. He was thinking about doing something for the Family Resource Center, and I was wanting to do a show at the GEM. I just want to play for my hometown folks. So we cooked up the idea of this night of music as sort of a chance to return to the scene of the crime, and also to raise some money and awareness.”

Scott Gregg is married to Cindy Gregg, the Child Advocacy Center’s director and therapist. The Gordon County Child Advocacy Center, a safe, child-friendly location for children to speak with trained forensic interviewers about abuse issues, is part of the Family Resource Center.

​Gregg said that he and Powell first became good friends in 8th grade, and have now banded together to put on this benefit concert for such an integral part of the Gordon County community.

“He’s a good guy,” said Gregg of Powell. “He’s one of those people that got very famous, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots He knows where it all started.”

Scott and Cindy were inspired to put on the benefit concert after attending a music festival in South Georgia late last year. “Cindy said ‘We should do something like this for the Family Resource Center’ and we started talking about doing something,” said Scott. “I sent Monty a text and I said ‘Hey, are you going to be around this summer?’ He texted back, ‘I might, what do you have in mind?’ I told him my idea and about two weeks later, he called me up one Saturday and said, ‘Hey, I’m actually going to be up in Calhoun on my birthday,’ and that’s when we shifted gears, because we had thought about a fall festival and we moved it to summer and to the GEM Theatre theatre and it just evolved from there. We’re excited about it. I think it’s going to be great.”

“We’re excited about the concert,” continued Cindy. “You know, being non-profit, we’re funded mostly by grants, along with donations and fundraisers. We have a couple of big fundraisers each year and we’re hoping this will be another big fundraiser for us. We’ve grown so much. We started the Advocacy Center in 2014 and it’s huge, along with the therapy we provide, and home visitation has grown.”

The Greggs agreed they would like to see the concert become an annual fundraising event and are excited this first year will feature Powell’s new band.

Troubadour 77 is the brainchild of Powell and his wife, the equally-talented Anna Wilson, who have collectively written a dozen #1 songs. Joined by band mates, husband-and-wife duo Austin and Kassie Weyand, along with Nathan Chappel, T77 is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

“We’re very much like Fleetwood Mac- we’re two married couples and a drummer, “ said Powell. “We play a lot out West; this is actually going to be our first show in the East.”

Powell sees this as a new phase in life.

“I just spent 30 years facilitating the careers and artistic vision of other people and I thought it was time to actually make the music that I wanted to make and it lined up perfectly with what Anna wanted to do as a songwriter as well,” said Powell. “So we just said, ‘It doesn’t matter how old you are, let’s start a band!’”

And age hasn’t slowed Powell down; he has several other major projects in the works at this time.

“I write a little bit in Nashville, but not that much anymore,” said Powell. “I’m really focused on the band and working on some special projects. One of the special projects I’m working on is producing, with Anna, a project with Billy Joel. It’s called ‘A Nashville State of Mind,’ and it’s Nashville-centric artists picking their favorite Billy Joel song and recording it as if they had never heard the original record. That’s the real twist on it, so some of the up-tempos are now ballads; obviously some of them are female songs, which they never were when he did them. We’ve been working on this for several years. It’s a slow-moving process, but it’s a project that we look forward to coming out in late 2018 or early 2019.”

“And then the second big piece is that we started a musical festival,” continued Powell. “It is called ‘TrouBeliever Fest’ and it is specifically a musical festival designed to showcase singer/songwriters (find more information at troubelieverfest.com). So there’s hard-rock music festivals, there’s EDM festivals, there’s reggae music festivals… there really isn’t one out there that highlights the singer/songwriter tradition that I sort of grew up in, with James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and through all the people that we know and love that came out and were about singing their own songs. We’re really excited about that. It’s August 3-4 this summer at Snowbasin Resort in Utah, which is about 45 miles north of Salt Lake City. In this first year, we have Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell headlining, and of course, Troubadour 77 will play. We’re really looking forward to growing (the festival). It’s a big job, but we’re looking forward to it being kind of the place every year that the singer/songwriters come and claim as their own.”

As for coming back to play in his hometown, Powell doesn’t hesitate on what it means to him.

“Well, frankly, it’s the most important thing I’m doing,” said Powell. “I’ve had a great career; done everything you could ever want to do, times two, and I know people that the business part of it has robbed their love of music, and thankfully, that never happened to me. I still love music and playing and performing and getting together with old pals as much as anything; it’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world to do. So to come back to Calhoun and be able to play with the guys in Revolver, who I’ve known for my whole life; to get to have this first chance to play with Ricky Gunn, who is fantastic...is just really exciting to me. I still love to jam. I still love to get together with old friends and play music, so it’s exciting to get to come back to the place where it all started. I’m sure I’ll pay a visit to Pete Cochran at Pete’s Music City and give him a hug, which is where the whole thing got started. So, it’s just a full circle thing for me.”

Powell has done it all, but still has an inspiration goal to accomplish.

“I would like for the baby-boomers and Gen X-er’s out there to know that there’s a band out there that’s making music for them and not just for kids, and that’s the message that I would really like to get out,” said Powell. “An inspirational message that I started Troubadour 77 when I was 55 years old. That the music business does not just belong to teenagers and that you ought to be able to make your statement at any point in time in your life. You can paint when you’re late in life, you can act- some of our greatest actors are in their 70’s, you can write a novel. You can do pretty much anything creative except the music business. If you’re not 16- or 17-years-old, they don’t care. And if you’re not making music for 16- or 17-year-olds, there just isn’t a very large window for you to enter the industry. So, I’m trying to change that conversation from the place that I’m at in my career.”