THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Thursday, August 17, 1995 TAG: 9508160198 SECTION: SUFFOLK SUN PAGE: 12 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Cover Story SOURCE: BY FRANK ROBERTS, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: COURTLAND LENGTH: Long : 131 lines
COUNTRY ENTERTAINERS Ty England, Jerry Clower and Archer/Park are the icing on the cake at the Franklin-Southampton County Fair.
There are plenty of other tempting ingredients as well - local entertainers, midway rides and games, and contests for watermelon eaters, greased-pig chasers and horseshoe throwers.
A look at the schedule will tell you that variety spices this concoction.
Jerry Clower is right at home at a county fair.
He has a degree in agriculture from Mississippi State University, once worked as an assistant county agent and spent 18 years selling fertilizer.
As director of field services for the Mississippi Chemical Corporation, he spent part of his time telling stories to keep the underlings happy at meeting time.
Some friends thought he was clever enough to record for posterity. Today, he records for MCA.
A Grand Ole Opry star, he has recorded 12 albums. He also wrote three books, including ``Ain't God Good.'' A deacon of First Baptist Church in Yazoo City, Miss., he is a lay pastor.
Clower has garnered a following of folks who enjoy hearing about his not-too-bright relatives and his coon-hunting exploits.
Clower, nicknamed ``Mouth of Mississippi,'' will share tales of life in Amite County, Miss., at the fair Friday.
As his publicist puts it: ``He sells the really good life - laughter, remembering the fun you've had, the friends, the simple things, the humorous side of even the bad times.''
Ty England, the leading artist at the fair, was Garth Brooks' college friend and his guitarist for six years.
Alanna Nash, reviewing Eng-land's premiere album on RCA, wrote, ``Not even Garth's first record was this winning.''
England's current single from that release, ``Should've Asked Her Faster,'' is a western swinger that made the top-10 on the Billboard chart.
``If I Had a Swing Like That,'' another offering from his lyrically clever album, is also getting some play.
England looks for more hits from his album: ``Her Only Bad Habit Is Me'' or ``Smoke in Her Eyes'' will be next, he said, during a phone interview from Minnesota.
``I'm having trouble deciding. Either one will appeal to the ladies, but I like `Smoke' a lot.''
You will hear those and more Saturday night in a show that Eng-land describes as ``laid back to some extent, but fairly active.''
He said, ``We're all-wireless, so we're mobile.''
``The only advice Garth ever gave me is `Take care of the music, pal,' '' said England. He has a degree in marketing.
He also has the good fortune to work with one of Nashville's most respected producers, Garth Fundis.
``I never heard the name, Garth, till I met Brooks,'' England said. ``The first two weeks I knew him, I called him Gars.''
Names are giving him some difficulty these days.
``I'm being confused with Ty Herndon more than I care to be,'' England said, referring to a country singer who pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and no contest to indecent exposure.
England's reputation is clearly with his music.
``We have a ball when we're onstage and when the fans are super attentive - that flatters me beyond belief,'' he said. ``When I see people getting teary-eyed because of some lyrics, that's very touching.''
Like Brooks, England treats fans with love and respect.
``Garth and I were fans before we were artists,'' he said. ``We learned together - how to treat the fans, one-on-one, how to bond with them.''
Archer/Park are doing quite well with the title tune/single from their album, ``Where There's Smoke.''
The men are Georgian Randy Archer, who grew up listening to gospel and still quotes his grandfather; and Texan Johnny Park, who grew up listening to country outlaws and, later, playing the honky-tonk circuit.
Songwriters for the same publishing company, they had come to town to sing and, last year, ventured forth as Archer/Park.
``We Got a Lot in Common'' and ``I Still Want to Jump Your Bones'' are also doing well for the duo.
``We've been spending so much time on the road - not enough time to write,'' Park said, during an interview from Nashville. ``The show is pretty energetic and upbeat.''
Publicity has him the wild man and Archer the halo-wearer.
``He's not as goody-goody as everybody thinks he is,'' Park said. ``Don't believe everything you read.''
The men live near one another but seldom get together when they are not working.
``Hell no,'' Park said. ``We really don't have a lot in common. Anyway, we're together so much - when we get home, we just split.''
On the road and on record, they take turns playing lead vocalist.
``Right now, we're going into the studio working on a new album,'' Park said. ``We're writing, and we're looking for material.''
Saturday, you'll have two opportunities to hear them. ILLUSTRATION: [Cover]
FEATURED AT THE FAIR
Archer/Park will perform Sunday at the Franklin-Southampton County
Ty England will take to the stage Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.
Grand Ole Opry star Jerry Clower will perform at 7 and 9 p.m.
The watermelon-eating contest is Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The 4-H shows will take place in the Livestock Pavilion.
AT A GLANCE
What: Franklin-Southampton County Fair
When: 4 to 10 p.m. through Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 1
to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Southampton Agri-Civic Center. U.S. 58. Follow signs to
center, one mile down, on Route 688 (Newmarket Road).
Admission: $3; children 6 and under, free
[For a copy of the schedule, see microfilm for this date.]