Gone Country | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Gone Country

Country music may bring a tear to the eye when a lady with big hair belts out a song about how her man left her for a floozy who tempted him away from her and his kids, pickup truck, and dog. And these days, the cheek that tear runs down may surprise you. Once the domain of good ol' boys, country music has spread its wings and been embraced by many so-called regular folks with jobs other than, say, mechanic or truck driver... folks who just happen to love the foot-stomping, hand-clapping music. They put on cowboy hats, boots, T-shirts, and Levi's and get together at monthly Florida Country Music Association jamborees that take place the third Sunday of every month in Broward County. The truly brave among them can participate as part of the entertainment.

Connie Hopkins, president of the Broward County Chapter of the FCMA, says her group has about 100 single memberships and about 20 family memberships. Dues of $20 for a single and $35 for a family allow members to receive monthly newsletters, attend spaghetti dinners at $5 a head, and participate in a yearly competition among the six Florida chapters that takes place every August. And while the annual gathering charges $8 for anyone older than age 12, the monthly local meetings are free.

Most Sundays, the jamborees are held indoors at Red, White, & Country in Pompano Beach; the Sports Ticket in Deerfield Beach; or the Moose Lodge in Davie. "Sometimes a jamboree is held out of doors at Traders Inn on the beach, but the saltwater is hard on the instruments," Hopkins says. Food and liquid libations are sold during the performances.

Three bands usually alternate playing instruments such as guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, tambourine, fiddle, harmonica, and washboard. If someone wants to sing, he or she can bring music on CD and take a turn warbling along, long-necked bottle of Bud in hand, sporting a Stetson and a dinner-plate-sized belt buckle. As David Allan Coe once said, "If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass."