For the Love of the Dixie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tribune photos by Clint Confehr John Rickman, left, and his brother, Jim, right, outflank Phil Comstock, center, as they celebrate the 40 years of their act, "Us Two and him." They don't capitalize the h in him for theological reasons. They helped raise money for the Marshall County Community Theatre in a show dubbed "For the Love of the Dixie."

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

For the Love of the Dixie, a volunteer concert to raise money for installation of a heating and cooling system at the Marshall County Community Theatre, was a sellout Saturday night.

The marquee was changed that night to say "Sold Out" as the audience was advised that the show raised about $3,000, a sum that, at $10 per person, equates to an audience of 300, the generally accepted figure for the number of seats available at the reconfigured Dixie movie theater.

On the last day of the production "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" last winter, the heating system failed. Having only enough money to start another play, the theatre's board decided to buy what was needed, and proceed with a fundraiser in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the homegrown trio Us Two and him as the headliner for the show.

It worked and the show was great.

Before the curtain opened for the closing act of Us Two and him, emcee David Sanders raised a question about their age. After all, if they'd been playing music together for 40 years, they're probably eligible for senior citizen privileges.

The curtain opened and a spotlight shined on bass man Jim Rickman stepping to center stage with the assistance of a walker. John Rickman was holding an oxygen mask on his face and Phil Comstock rolled in seated on a wheelchair.

The venerable band Us Two and him proceeded to entertain with more self-deprecating humor by way of songs including lyrics advising "I just don't look good naked anymore."

Brothers Jim and John Rickman and the third man, "him," Phil Comstock, started playing together in 1972. They sought to be hip as a band called Electric Soul, but became known as the Chapel Hill Pickers.

They made fun of their stunning success with record and CD sales, and in the process made more friends than fame could really provide. The number of people who knew the band and/or the others on stage Saturday night was probably more than half the crowd. It wasn't star-power that made the show. It was the community's support for a viable little theater group with a venue of its own.

The old Dixie Theater reopened in 1995 as the Marshall County Community Theatre.

The Lee Herring Trio opened the show with Lee Herring on trombone, Mike Mosier on guitar and Al Cheatham on bass. Their set included a Miles Davis piece that might be seen as the rebirth of the cool in the Dixie, given the HVAC's performance on a pleasantly warm evening. Their rendition of Count Basie's "Take the 'A' Train" had tracks that would never have been in the Lawrence Welk version "Take a Train."

Clay Derryberry's leadership of the band 4 Shades of Gray included a song imploring "Bring me sunshine; bring me love." The lyrics settled well as delivered by the man otherwise known as preacher to his flock, airport manager at Ellington field and pastor when almost...for the rest of the story pick up a copy of the Marshall County Tribune