Johnny Helm hit the CCT stage as newest production gets underway

by Mary Beth Scallon Special Contributor

Fans of longtime Jacksonville singer and songwriter, Johnny Helm, gathered Saturday night, Aug. 29, at Cherokee Civic Theatre in Rusk, for the debut of his new CD, “Foolish Man.”

Accompanied by a band of his fellow musicians, Helm continued his tradition of bringing his style of music to an enthusiastic crowd.

His musical career began in the ‘70s during the “Jesus rock band” era, commencing with Damascus Road, a band that brought gospel music to a new genre, one with a fast tempo and guitars, both acoustic and steel.

When Damascus Road split, Helm and his brother, Tommie Helm, continued their pursuit of performing and presenting their music with their Spirit & Understanding label.

Since that time, the brothers and some of the original band members, have reunited for a variety of performances, including gigs at the Tomato Fest, Tomato Bowl and Roland’s Next Door, all in Jacksonville.

Saturday night’s performance included band members Jeff Shelton on drums; Alex Blair, on bass and harmony vocals; Don Elbert on keys; and Steve DeVries, with acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin and harmonica, as well as Johnny Helm on vocals and electric guitar.

All the songs performed were written by Helm, with the exception of the lyrics in “The Pledge of Allegiance,” and some takeout scores in “This Ol’ Boy Can Still Rock.”

Leading the program with the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, Helm displayed his patriotism and pride in America, and also his spiritual heritage, ending the performance with his creation, “Praise to You, Jesus, Praise.”

Social distancing protocol was practiced at the theater, and ticket sales and donations were divided between Helm and CCT’s “Raise the Roof” Fund.

For more information or to purchase Helm’s new CD, call (903) 589-0959.

CCT’s next production is Borrowed Time by Kevin Stone, directed by Josie Fox and produced by Amy McCalister.

Cast members are:

• Jürgen Metzger - Kaleb Ward

• Young Jürgen - Lucas Everett

• Ryan - Atticus Belota

• Jessica - Abigail McCalister

• Old Jessica - Harley Barrow

• Roberta - Gwyneth Wilder

• Old Roberta - Brenda Hendrickson

• Kathleen Metzger - Meg Kovacs

• Young Kathleen - Rachel Coleman

• Mailman - May Woods

• Offstage voices - Deakon Harper

Borrowed Time hits the stage at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17; and 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 18, at the theater, 157 W. Fifth St., Rusk.

Theater memberships are still available. Call the box office, (903) 683-2131 to find out how to become a member of the Cherokee Civic Theatre.