By Sheena Barnett
AMORY – The Old Armory will rock again this weekend, just like it did nearly 60 years ago.
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins performed at the Old Armory in 1955 and 1956, to packed crowds of excited teens. This weekend, Perkins’ son Stan and T. Tone & the City Spice will entertain at the Old Armory at Crusin’ Flashback, an old-school sock hop and classic car display.
“It’s not just that those three played here,” said Danny Sanders, who’s on the city’s Old Armory committee. “It was a gathering place for the entire community. It was the only gathering place.”
The Old Armory was built in the early 1940s and was used by the National Guard until the 1980s, when a newer armory was constructed.
“In the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, this building had events of every sort you can imagine,” Sanders said, like concerts, wrestling matches and home and food shows.
Then it sat, empty and neglected, until 2013, when Martha Dowd Dalrymple had the historic building preserved.
The building was in “terrible shape,” Sanders said, but the renovation preserved the original building as much as possible. The floor and most of the doors are original, as is the stage that Elvis, Cash and Perkins once performed on.
Now the Old Armory is in the hands of the city, and a committee of volunteers, including Sanders and Devy Ferguson, is overseeing the building’s care and creating events to keep the building busy.
They’ve already improved the building’s acoustics and hope to one day install a top-of-the-line light and sound system.
“There have been hundreds of hours of volunteer help, and there’ll be hundreds more to put in. The potential for this building is unlimited,” Sanders said.
Sock hop fun
Crusin’ Flashback starts with a classic car show at 5 p.m. Saturday, and the music starts at 7 p.m.
Stan Perkins is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and he’ll perform with T. Tone and the City Spice. Most of the music will be rockabilly, but later in the night T. Tone will play more contemporary hits, too.
Poodle skirts and other ‘50s attire is encouraged. There will be a costume contest, as well as a table decorating contest, Ferguson said.
There will be food vendors, too.
Upcoming events at the Old Armory include a bluegrass show and chili cook-off – complete with a $25,000 grand prize – in October and a USO show in November.
Ferguson and Sanders hope to see the entire community turn out for these events, just like they did years ago.
“It’s going to be a blast, it really is,” Ferguson said. “It’s a chance for your whole family to get together in a top-notch venue and enjoy top-notch entertainment. There will be something for everybody: classic cars, music, dancing. You can dance your shoes off.”
CHECK IT OUT
• What: Cruisin’ Flashback, a car show and sock hop, with Stan Perkins, T. Tone & the City Spice
• When: Saturday. Car display at 5 p.m., and music at 7 p.m.
• Where: Old Armory, Amory
• Cost: $15/adults, $5/12 and under
• Info: (662) 256-4673