By Ray Van Dusen
AMORY – Upwards of 300 people mixed and mingled on the pristine hardwood floors of the old National Guard Armory for an unveiling ceremony Saturday reminiscent of the building’s prime.
“A New Day for the Old Armory” marked the culmination of a two-year endeavor made possible by the Dalrymple Foundation.
“Martha Dalrymple had the spark and motivation to do it. Without her input on the whole project, we wouldn’t be here,” said Old Armory Reborn committee member Art Gentry.
Saturday night’s semiformal event featured tales of the armory’s rockabilly past from emcee Jim Buffington and keynote speaker W.S. “Fluke” Holland, who played the drums for Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.
The building’s most noteworthy claim to fame is a 1955 concert when Perkins stole the show from Elvis by playing “Blue Suede Shoes.” Perkins also played another show with Johnny Cash there the previous month.
While telling stories, Holland talked about the magic of Amory during the rockabilly era and how it sticks out in his mind even beyond Carnegie Hall.
The Old Armory Reborn committee hopes to recreate that same magic in the future with more high-end events, which begin with the inaugural “Blue Suede Ball” in August.
“Danny Sanders, who is also on the committee, has a vision that I share. That is to have a facility where people come from other cities to see what we’re doing here. It’s attainable. Amory is a very unusual city where we have the talent here and we want to move forward with it,” Gentry said.