Gayville Hall celebrates music of Hank Williams

Gayville Hall celebrates music of Hank Williams Last July Gayville Hall had to turn away customers after a standing-room-only crowd of 227 filled the former grocery store in Gayville for the new music hall's fourth show.

The big crowd had come to hear a concert of Hank Williams songs by John and Susan McNeill of Springfield and Nick Schwebach and Owen DeJong of rural Wakonda.

"Better than Branson," uttered a visitor from Missouri after the show, according to Doug Sharples, who operates the hall with his wife Judi. "When are you going to play it again?" asked others.

"A Celebration of Hank Williams" returns to Gayville on Saturday, June 15, at 8 p.m. with the same musicians and some additional Williams songs added to the show.

John McNeill, the master of ceremonies at Gayville Hall, sings the majority of the Hank Williams' songs in the concert, plays drums, guitar, harmonica and banjo, and weaves a commentary about Williams' life and music between the numbers.

McNeill was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Indiana and Connecticut, and first came to South Dakota to attend Yankton College. He teaches at the state prison in Springfield.

Susan McNeill, a native of Clark, plays bass and sings several tunes in the concert. DeJong plays fiddle, and Schwebach plays steel guitar and sings.

DeJong and Schwebach have performed together for 23 years in the Public Domain Tune Band and for a decade and a half in Poker Alice, the Vermillion-area group which Schwebach, a native of Dell Rapids, founded. DeJong, born in Pipestone, MN, is classical music director at South Dakota Public Radio.

Gayville Hall is at 502 Washington Street in Gayville. Tickets are $10 at the door or $12.50 for advance reserved seating. Call 605-267-2859.

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