Section: Arts

If Ernest Tubb Could Sing shakes rafters at Quarry Chapel

If Ernest Tubb Could Sing shakes rafters at Quarry Chapel

By Dylan Manning and Ulysses Yarber

If Ernest Tubb Could Sing was born from decades of casual musical collaboration. The band, composed of former and present Kenyon faculty, decided on its name after a night of jamming. “I think we were sitting and playing in our kitchen,” Professor Emeritus of Sociology Howard Sacks said.

“I think we were playing ‘Waltz Across Texas,’” Professor of Anthropology David Suggs interjected.

“Yeah, we were probably playing that. And Ernest Tubb’s got kind of a gravelly distinctive, country voice,” Sacks continued. “And somebody said, ‘Wow, if Ernest Tubb could sing,’ and we thought that would be a good name for a band.”

This past Sunday, If Ernest Tubb Could Sing performed at the local Quarry Chapel. The group is composed of Affiliated Scholar of American Studies Judy Sacks, retired Professor Emeritus of Sociology Howard Sacks and Professor of Anthropology David Suggs.

If Ernest Tubb Could Sing left its kitchen counter behind, transitioning first to campus stages nationwide and now to the Quarry Chapel, a beautifully restored building nestled next to a cornfield. The performance stage was a raised platform facing the pews, and a stunning stained glass window served as the backdrop. Mary Frazee, the administrative assistant for Kenyon Donor Relations, was drawn to the event because of her love of music and the distinct imagery of the band’s lyrics.

“The location of where they were playing, the church, is so historic and so beautiful … The building itself is a piece of art,” she said.

The trio transformed almost seamlessly from academics to performers as they complemented their musical performance with small histories and personal anecdotes. Two guitars and a mandolin, brief cameos from a ukulele, a pair of sandpaper blocks and a kazoo were all they needed to fill the church with tremendous emotion, taking us through a wide range of styles.

What If Ernest Tubb Could Sing does so well is grab at what it means to be American: the amalgamation of folklore, pop culture, counterculture and city and country living. Cat Von Holt ’19 was struck by the sense of belonging she felt at the concert.

“I loved that it was such community music and made me feel at home in the rural environment that Kenyon sits in,” Von Holt said. 

Anyone who loves good music and vivid storytelling should keep an eye out for the band’s next performance. If it’s anything like this one, you’re in for some authentic American entertainment.

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