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Fri, Dec. 06

Potato Patch String Band headlines Prescott Opry

The Potato Patch String Band will perform Thursday in a Prescott Opry concert at 
the Elks Opera House.<br>

Courtesy photo

The Potato Patch String Band will perform Thursday in a Prescott Opry concert at the Elks Opera House.<br> Courtesy photo

With a name like "Potato Patch String Band," Thursday's crowd at the Prescott Opry concert can expect some toe-tapping music to bring the rafters down at the Elks Opera House.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, with offers of discounts for seniors, groups and students. Tickets are available by calling the opera house box office at 777-1370 or at

"Potato Patch," the evening's feature, includes Howard Mathews on fiddle; Max Hawkins on mandolin; Louis Mackall, on guitar and vocal lead; and Ellen Tyler, who sings harmony and plays bass.

The foursome met up at bluegrass jams and formed "Potato Patch String Band" seven years ago, Tyler said. "When

we started playing together, we needed to come up with a name. We have a couple of potato patches in the area," so that's the name the four settled on. "Now, we're stuck with it," she said with a chuckle.

The group's specialty is bluegrass and classic country.

Mathews was born in North Carolina, grew up in Kentucky and played traditional blue grass with a band all over the Southwest for 25years. He's a former Arizona fiddle champion.

Hawkins is a native Midwesterner and played guitar with an Air Force band in Yuma, Ariz. He once owned a convenience store in Spring Valley, where all four band members reside.

Mackall and Tyler are husband and wife. He came from Virginia and was a lawyer with the federal Surface Transportation Board. Tyler came from Wisconsin, where she taught computer classes at the University of Wisconsin.

Now that they are all retired, they spend their time with their music and have performed at many venues in the Prescott area, from Arcosanti's bluegrass festival and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering to the Sharlot Hall Museum Folk Music Festival and Acker Night in downtown Prescott over the Christmas holidays.

Tyler promised favorites for Thursday's Prescott Opry. One is "Orphan Train," a melody about the charitable movement in the late 1880s to the 1920s that rescued children from orphanages and the streets in New York and Boston, cleaned them up and put them on trains headed West. "It's our most requested song," Tyler said.

Others on the "Potato Patch" playlist are "Milwaukee Here I Come," which tells the tale of people who get crushes on Grand Ole Opry performers, and "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waiting Somewhere," a salute to men and women who have or are in the nation's armed forces.

"Potato Patch" is a "very upbeat, entertaining group, lively and comedic," said Ed Gary, concert organizer of the concert and the evening's master of ceremonies.

Gary is a lead singer and bassist and will entertain with "The Auctioneer," an up-tempo tune; "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me," a Johnny Cash medley; and Ray Price's "For the Good Times."

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