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Hornucopia trumpets 10th musical fundraiser

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published December 19, 2013 at 3:08 a.m.

Those old band instruments that are stuck up in your attic could actually do some good, if you take them down and hand them off to the “Play It Again, Arkansas” organization. Hornucopia is an annual event at which people with unwanted musical instruments donate them.

“This will be our 10th event as Hornucopia, or 14th, of the whole series, which began under different names,” explains Mark Johnson, a longtime musician and former recording studio co-owner. “The event was begun by former Gov. Huckabee, who of course is a musician himself, and it’s been continued by Gov. Beebe. I don’t know if he’s a musician, but he’s a great dancer, I’ve noticed.”

Hornucopias have been held at a private home in Roland, the former Juanita’s location at 13th and Main streets and for the past three years, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack.

Johnson notes that over the course of the years the event has been held, there have been dozens of instruments donated, along with thousands of dollars. When musical instruments are donated, they go for repairs and/ or refurbishing to the office of John Caldwell, a public school adviser in the state Department of Education.

“He’s in contact with the high school band directors,” Johnson says, “and he has contacts with the repair departments in music stores, who then do whatever needs fixing, if anything.”

Three local bands will perform, for about an hour each, beginning with Flying Balloon-o Brothers at 7 p.m., followed at 8 by The Woodpeckers and at 9 by Grumpy Old Men.

Grumpy Old Men consists of Gio Bruno and Dee Garner on vocals, Thumper Sweeney on guitar, Buck McArthur on guitar and vocals, Gary “Puddy Man” Acklin on keyboards and vocals, Mark Payne on saxophone and vocals, Eric Nolen on bass and vocals and Roger Reynolds on drums.

Johnson says the event may be the final public performance by Bruno, who came up with event’s name and is involved in the rebirth of his family’s historic restaurant, Bruno’s, now located on Main Street. Nolen is a former member of The Resistors, The KSSN Bandits and The Kat Hood Trio, and McArthur has toured with B.J. Thomas.

The Woodpeckers are Woody Dixon on guitar and vocals, Mark Farmer on guitar and vocals, Ben Moody on keyboards and vocals, Andy Bowie on bass and harmonicas and Gerry Smith on percussion.

Dixon is the leader of a local band, the Freds, and Smith was an original member of another local band, Tragikly White.

Flying Balloon-o Brothers are Gio Bruno on guitar and vocals, Jay Bruno on bass and vocals and Frank Cox on guitar and vocals. Gio Bruno and Cox have also been longtime members of The Groan-Ups.

“The Hornucopia event has become a holiday routine for a lot of local musicians and their fans,” Johnson says. “It’s a chance for them all to see each other while helping out a worthy cause.”

Hornucopia, with Grumpy Old Men, The Woodpeckers and Flying Balloon-o Brothers 7 p.m. today (doors open at 6 p.m.), Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock Admission: $20 or a musical instrument donation (501) 372-7707 stickyz.com

Weekend, Pages 35 on 12/19/2013

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