ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 23, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 43


Yipee! and they were off on Country Roads

By Tahnee Hopman

Dedicated to the cause: CMF President Feizal Samath sings
Dirk getting the audience involved

The colonial era courtyard of the Mount Lavinia Hotel had been transformed into a scene from the old west. In an atmosphere reminiscent of a typical country barn, two horses stood in their paddocks while cowboys greeted the country music fans arriving at Country Roads XVI. The entrance to the ballroom was decked with touches of Wild West décor including two polished wooden saloon doors.

What had begun as a “one off concert” 20 years ago, Country Roads has just completed its 16th show. “I remember, way back in 1988, walking into the Trans-Asia Hotel looking for a place to host the concert,” recalled Feizal Samath, President of the Country Music Foundation and organizer of Country Roads. The concert has now become one that Colombo looks forward to every year - a one of a kind show for the whole family.

And true to form, Country Roads XVI did more than meet the expectations of its audience, and succeeded in bringing together adults and children alike, clapping and singing along with the artistes. Joining in the spirit of the evening American Ambassador Robert O’ Blake clapped and sang along to his favourite country songs, also declaring himself a fan of The Eagles.


Typical wild west with horses and all

The evening started with a performance by Anno Domini, a young country music group, performing lively renditions of songs by The Eagles. This was the second year that Anno Domini was a part of Country Roads, and the artistes hope to be involved in the show next year as well. Highlights of the show included performances by Astrid Brook and Amelie Chevalier, and the Mavericks. Astrid and Amelie thrilled the audience with songs of John Denver, Mary Duff, The Eagles and Bob Dylan. Commenting on her choice of Blowing in the Wind, Astrid explained that “ the song is extremely poignant to the situation Sri Lanka is in at the moment. I believe that, as the song says, the answer to our problems is blowing in the wind, and that if we all believe in peace and love, they will exist”.

A traditional greeting from Amelie and Astrid. Pix by J. Weerasekera

The Mavericks made their 13th appearance at Country Roads XVI, entertaining the audience with their popular hits, including Ayubowan Sri Lanka, and a humorous impersonation of Elvis Presley, done by Dirk Maverick, the leader of the group. The ethnic conflict had not deterred them from performing here; “Rather the travel advisories made me even more determined to come here,” said Dirk expressing his pleasure at coming to Sri Lanka and singing for the cause of helping thousands of marginalized children. The Country Revival Band and The Cosmic Rays were also featured in the show, with a series of rousing performances, including on a six stringed Ukelele, a banjo and a harmonica
Country Roads XVI was an intimate show where each artiste connected with the audience. There was an interesting contrast of old and new country music, which was highly appreciated by fans young and old.

The proceeds of this year’s concert are to reach the children of Vellavelli, for a new library. Since its inception, Country Roads has been successful in reaching out to under-privileged children, and its 16th concert will be no different. The Sunday Times was the media sponsor for Country Roads for the 16th year.

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