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Florida Opry’s first show of the year is Saturday

PLANT CITY – The fourth Florida Opry of the season will toe-tap its way into 2014 with an opening act by the John French Trio, followed by The Peyton Mangum Group.

Saturday evening’s event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins Street, in downtown Plant City.

Headliner Larry Mangum and John Peyton recently performed at the North Florida Folk Networks’ North Florida Acoustic Musical Festival in Jacksonville.

Mangum hails from a musical family: his grandfather played the fiddle on the Milt Talbot show and his mother, Kate Drye, performed with her sisters Ramel and Gladys, and brother, Homer, on WBT Briarhoppers. Kate Drye Mangum later “taught Randy Travis how to play the guitar,” said Shelby Bender, president and executive director of the East Hillsborough Historical Society (EHHS), which sponsors the Florida Opry.

Mangum has notched 3,000 performances over four decades as a folk, rock, country and Americana artist, said Bender, and one of his songs has been nominated as a finalist at the South Florida Folk Festival to be held in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 18 and 19. This will be his third Plant City performance.

“Everyone was so impressed with him. We had requests for him to come back,” she said. “His voice is smooth as butter and the songs he writes are from the heart. His songs are telling a story.”

The evening will be a first for fans to hear John Peyton at the opry. Peyton is considered by his peers to be a harmonica virtuoso.

The opening act of John French Trio features John French, Sean Curran and Carolyn Dunn.

French brings a large repertoire of original music that combines Americana, bluegrass and folk to the stage, complemented by Curran’s talents on the fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals.

Pioneer Day visitors may recall singer/songwriter Dunn’s style as “rockabilly,” said Bender. Her musical genres range from folk to blues to country, rock and pop. She also is one of the organizers of the Sarasota Folk Festival.

Randy Scott will emcee the Florida Opry, which typically draws 75 to 100 music lovers to the community center’s auditorium. The venue seats up to 250, said Bender. All proceeds benefit the restoration of the former school, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tickets are $12 per person and $5 per student.

A dinner of chili, Cuban bread, salad and dessert will be served prior to the show at 4:45 p.m. for $8 per person and $4 per student.

For more information or to reserve tickets contact the East Hillsborough Historical Society at (813) 757-9226 or visit their website at www.thefloridaopry.org.

If You Go

What: Florida Opry

Where: 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, 605 N. Collins St., Plant City

When: Saturday, Jan. 11, 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets: $12 adults, $5 students

Dinner: $8 adults, $4 students

Information: EHHS at (813) 757-9226, or www.thefloridaopry.org.

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