Young at Heart’s group of octogenarians keep the classics alive by performing throughout Central Kentucky, Maple Ridge Soaps in Bracken County makes soap the natural and 2800 B.C. way, and western Kentucky’s The Savage Radley sing about small-town Kentucky life.
Young at Heart Big Band
The average age of the members of the Young at Heart Big Band is 80, and these musicians are finding that their passion for performing is the secret to everlasting youth.
“I worked until I was 72 before I retired, and I’ve been doing this for almost 25 years,” says George Ely, president of the Young at Heart Big Band. “I don’t know what I would have done with my time in my senior years if I hadn’t had this.”
The band started in 1980 as part of the University of Kentucky’s Donovan Program. It was designed to encourage adults over age 65 to get back into playing music, something they may have not done for decades.
But this isn’t just a feel-good project for retirees, says Doyle G. Rambo, who plays the tuba. “I can honestly say, everybody in the band cuts it. We don’t have to mellow down for anybody,” says Rambo. “Everybody knows their music. They’re all first-class musicians, and there’s not many people in the world get to play in a band where you’ve got all first-class musicians. It’s wonderful.”
Young at Heart visits the Thomas Hood Veterans’ Center in Wilmore twice a year.
“Music is such an emotional enjoyment for everybody,” says Michelle Ewing, Activities Director for Thomas Hood. “We have some veterans who aren’t able to communicate verbally but when you bring them in there, they don’t even have their eyes open, but you see them starting to smile, to move their heads.”
Members of the band and the audience both benefit from the group’s performances.
“Young at Heart is a great name,” says Dave Sublette, trumpet player and emcee for the band. “I jokingly come on usually that we are young at heart, other body parts might be older, but as a result, I think we appreciate life more. We’re ready to party when we come to play. We love the music, we love playing for people, and we can see that the people enjoy what we’re doing.
Maple Ridge Soaps
In idyllic Bracken County, Ky., residents enjoy a friendly, rural way of life. That’s the backdrop for Maple Ridge Soaps & Sundries, a small business that started as a family project for owner Lana Bush.
“We started out with the idea and the hope of helping our baby’s skin,” says Bush. “Anna was having some skin issues. The doctor said it was probably eczema. One night, I was putting lotion on her legs and it burned her legs. We both cried together, and I just sort of whispered a prayer to God to help me come up with something. I’d tried so many other things for Anna’s skin.”
The Savage Radley
Murray, Ky., is home to a thriving local music scene. One of the bands that has emerged from that scene is The Savage Radley, a folk trio that honors the southern storytelling tradition through its lyrics.
“The name The Savage Radley came from the book, To Kill a Mockingbird,” says singer/songwriter Shaina Goodman. “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ was the first book I read that I realized words can have deeper meaning than how they’re presented. The way Harper Lee went about that and how it ties in to her relationships to the South and what she had to say about it, I think are elements that I always wanted to portray in my own work.”