The Sumter Opera House premieres its Sumter Opry Express music series Saturday with two young artists who are reviving the traditional country music style and sound. Beam Country, featuring Andrew Beam, and Teea Goans will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Both artists grew up listening to "old style" country music, Goans in Missouri and Clemson University grad Beam in North Carolina.
Sumter Cultural Manager Seth Reimer said The Sumter Opry Express name is a tribute to both Bluegrass Express, an SCETV program of live music formerly presented on the Opera House stage, and Nashville Grand Ol Opry.
"Considering the previous country and bluegrass talent we've presented, I thought creating a series as an homage to (them) would be a great way for concert-goers to know when that genre of artists are on stage. Both of these artists remind us of what country music at its purest has to offer - melodies, stories and emotions that go beyond the basic notes of the song."
Goans, who said she has based much of her career on Ray Price's style, said it's rare to hear his style of country these days. " When he sings, it's almost like he's speaking the song to you. You don't hear that a lot anymore (and) sometimes people just want to hear the song, rather than 'acrobatics.'"
Goans grew up singing with her family, then at 10 joined the Truman Lake Opry, where she often got to watch celebrated country performers such as Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, Johnny Russell and many others. The experience was invaluable, she said, preparing her for her move to Nashville after high school.
She resisted the urging of Nashville producers to switch to contemporary country music, sticking to the traditional. " I'm all about being who you really are," Goans said. " There's only one you. I've never been about fame or fortune or stardom. I just love this music."
Her latest album, "Swing, Shuffle & Sway," is highly listenable, danceable and nostalgic, featuring such cuts as her torchy and acoustic covers of Eddy Arnold's "You Don't Know Me" and Merle Haggard's "I Didn't Mean to Miss You," plus several more, including a country rag with steel guitar.
Andrew Beam started out singing gospel bluegrass, playing at church, but in seventh grade played covers of such bands as Lynyrd Skynyrd with a rock group organized by his science teacher. Later at Clemson he played in a duo with classmate Ryan Jewel.
A move to Charleston found Beam working in a field related to his Wildlife Biology major at Clemson and occasionally playing for friends. A conversation with Jewel about the decline of traditional country led Beam to songwriting, which in turn saw him recording and opening for touring acts, such as Aaron Tippin, with whom he played last year at the Sumter Opera House.
"Looking back," Beam said, "music should have always been the answer." He'll bring a full band for his Sumter Opry Express concert on Saturday.
Sumter Opry Express will debut with Beam Country and Teea Goans at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St. Tickets range from $20-$25. Ample free parking is available. For reservations and more information, visit www.SumterOperaHouse.com online or call (803) 436-2616.
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