Opening night a lightnin' success
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Thursday afternoon brought torrential rains along with thunder and lightning to the area, but by 7 p.m. the skies were clear and cooler temperatures prevailed for the dedications of the Camp Street Blues mural and the new J. B. and Kathryn Sallas Amphitheatre in Arnold Park. An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the hot tunes played by Milton Hopkins and "Texas" Johnny Brown's Quality Blues Band. Brown did not appear due to a serious illness. Before the concert, a crowd gathered on Camp Street for the dedication of the mural painted by Eagle Scout Robert Morrison. The mural depicts seven Blues legends, including Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, Frankie Lee Sims, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Blind" Lemon Jackson, "Texas" Johnny Brown, Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker and Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton. Milton Hopkins, a cousin to Lightnin' Hopkins, told a little bit about each of the pictured musicians. He said Andrew J. Hopkins, for whom the new Crockett High School event center/safe shelter is named, is his daddy's baby brother. R. C. Wooten, Otis Duren and James McCullough shared stories of Camp Street's history. They pointed to where there once was a barber shop, ice cream parlor, restaurant pool hall and even a taxi stand. After the dedication of the mural, folks moved to the new amphitheatre in Arnold Park, adjacent to the Houston County Museum. The crowd sat in lawn chairs along the driveway to the museum and enjoyed the music played below in the amphitheatre. During the dedication there, Dorothy Harrison, president of the Houston County Museum, broke a bottle of champagne on the edge Vetoes, signatures and more of the stage to christen the theatre. Once Hopkins and the Quality Blues Band took the stage, a crowd of about 200 settled in for an evening of music. Local historian Juanita Brenner was present, and while viewing the stage, the band and the crowd, she said the amphitheatre project had been a vision of hers for years. She clearly was pleased with the outcome, as were the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association and local music historians Pip and Guy Gillette. The PWFAA issued a statement Friday, June 7, saying, "The opening night of Piney Woods Fine Arts Association's Summer Lightnin' Series was a huge success. Texas blues legend Milton Hopkins played a blazin' set of the blues for large audience at the new J.B & Kathryn Sallas Amphitheatre at Arnold Park! The rain didn't keep away the people and an enthusiastic crowd showed up and enjoyed some great music under the stars! "A special thanks to Dorothy Harrison of the Houston County Museum for opening the museum to patrons before the show. The museum will be open at 6 p.m. on Thursday nights in June to allow people to visit before the concert. "Next week's (free) concert is Two Tons of Steel, a Texas-rockabilly band known for its unique sound and high-energy performances! For more information about the Summer Lightnin' Series or any other PWFAA event, please visit www.pwfaa.org or call the Piney Woods office at (936) 544-4276."