No question, The Common Few? stirred memories - 9-23-06

The Common Few? may have a question mark in its name, but there is no question the Chanute band had an impact with young people from 1964 to 1971. In their 40th anniversary year, The Common Few? played Nov. 19 at the second annual Kansas Music Hall of Fame Concert at Chanute's Memorial Auditorium.

Joined on the bill by the Sensational Showmen, The Fabulous Flippers and Mike Finnegan, the event was a phenomenon. The Sensational Showmen's lead singer Larry Brown said it best. "This is a mother of a blast from the past."

Chanute area residents who were young people in the mid 1960s and early 1970s were drawn to the concert and they called their friends who flocked in from out of town to produce a several-class Chanute High reunion.

"It was a definite Homecoming," said David Orr, who helped organize the event through the Chanute Lions Club. "The Common Few? found out people still remembered them."

The band is coming back this year. Orr, who is a District Governor of Lions, said time restraints prevented putting together another Hall of Fame Concert. But there is going to be a Lions Hall of Fall Festival event, Sept. 29-30, on Artist Alley weekend. On Friday and Saturday nights and during Artist Alley The Common Few?, King Midas and the Mufflers and the Lions JamBand will take the stage.

The evening concerts will be held at The Alibi, Main and Evergreen, from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. At Artist Alley on Main Street, The Common Few? will play at noon, King Midas at 12:45 and the Lions Jam Band at 1:30.

"The Common Few? didn’t get to play at the after party last year," Orr said. "It was such a chaotic moment, it never happened."

The group did take the stage in Lawrence as part of the Hall of Fame induction where King Midas and the Mufflers were inducted.

"We invited them to come and showcase their talent," Orr said.

He said the group, from McPherson, is the oldest continuing rock and roll band in Kansas, performing for 41 years. Traveling with them has been Son of Midas, made up of children of the group.

"They're not children anymore," Orr said.

Orr plays keyboard for the 11-piece Jamband, which includes members from The Showmen, Salty Dog, the Flippers, Spider and the Crabs and more. During the Artist Alley show, limited to five songs apiece, King Midas will play from the 1955 to 1965 era, The Common Few? 1964 to 1970 and the Jamband 1968 to 1980.

The Common Few? have continued their long distance practice sessions. It was not easy, however, because band members were spread out through Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and even Tennessee. The Few has gotten together about three times to prepare for the event and will have their final tuneup the Thursday of the Artist Alley weekend.

"Some of the guys hadn't picked up an instrument in 40 years," leader singer Ben Ennis, Ponca City, Okla., said of last year's reunion of The Common Few?

But when the sounds of "Beginnings" - a song made famous by Chicago - filtered through the Memorial Building hall, the 990 in attendance were taken back to different times.

Tickets for The Alibi concerts are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Corporate tables seating eight can be reserved for $100, which does not include the ticket price.

Orr said the Friday session is attracting those attending reunions of the Classes of 1956, 1961 and 1966 because they have their own special events on Saturday night. Also on Friday night, preceding the concert, the Lions Club will be hosing its Governor's Ball from 6 to 8:15 complete with tuxes and formals.

The two-night event is the Chanute Lions Club's biggest fund-raiser of the year and all proceeds will go toward work by the local club in Chanute. Orr said the Friday night net will be for the SEK Lions, not just Chanute, but the Saturday proceeds will stay in Chanute for such project as providing eyeglasses.

"One hundred percent will be used to help people in the community," Orr said.

-Stu Butcher, Chanute Tribune Writer


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