|Mike and Doc Blakely|
Less than two weeks now to the 20th anniversary of the Wharton Rotary Gala and tickets are going fast! Saturday, September 24, is the date and the Wharton Civic Center is the place for the return of The Swing Riders to the Rotary Stage. The Swing Riders are Doc and Mike Blakely, a father-son duo, each of whom has had an award-winning career in different sectors of the entertainment industry.
Tickets are $60 each and include the popular old west buffet and two drink tickets. “Reserved” tables for 10 are an extra $150. Tickets may be purchased online at www.whartonrotaryclub.com or by calling Sharon Joines, Treasurer at 979-532-2636. The Wharton Journal-Spectator, Milam St. Coffee and several other Wharton Downtown merchants also offer tickets. All profits go to local charities.
The Swing Riders held their world premier at the original Wharton Rotary Gala in 1992 as a fund raiser for the project now known as The Boys and Girls Club. Planned as a one time fund raiser, the Gala was so popular that Wharton Rotary continued the project as an annual benefit show featuring Legends of Western Music. Since 1992, the Gala has presented such stars as Jerry Reed, Roy Clark, Ray Price, Michael Martin Murphey, Hank Thompson, The Dixie Chicks, Riders In The Sky and many others.
To mark the 20th anniversary, the Rotary Board decided to celebrate with the original program which included an hour of pure humor with Doc Blakely, a professional humorist from Wharton. After the opening segment by Wharton’s own Jenn Miori and Bluegrass Story at 6 pm, Doc will take the stage from 7-8 pm to do what he has done on platforms all over America and many other parts of the world. Doc Blakely has been awarded every designation given by the National Speakers Association (NSA) including the Cavett, equivalent to the Oscar in his profession, and is a member of the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame, author of 7 books, and a weekly humor column, Pokin’ Fun, available weekly by joining Fans of Doc Blakely and Pokin’ Fun on Facebook, and in the Wharton Journal-Spectator. Doc will entertain with his brand of pure, clean humor and then join his son Mike in the second set with the full Swing Rider note wranglers for a musical-comedy straight out of the Old West, the Swing Riders Texas Show, which held its world premier right here 20 years ago.
Doc Blakely has honed his craft with after-dinner and keynote presentations, mainly at conventions and corporate meetings, around the world. He has flown over 3 ½ million miles on commercial airlines and also piloted his own private plane for 30 years. An instrument-rated pilot, he has logged over 3000 hours and claims he is unique because his flights usually consisted of one take-off and three landings per flight. He was on the roster of the prestigious Knife and Fork Clubs, which offered such famous personalities as Ann Landers, Ronald Reagan, Sir Edmund Hillary, etc. The K&F circuit was, at the time, a network of 250 clubs nationwide and occasionally “tried out” unknown speakers based on reports from their talent scouts. Blakely was one such prospect given a chance and soon became a popular choice based on word of mouth reports between clubs. He rose quickly from his initial appearances in his rookie year as a full time professional in 1974 and was soon billed by the clubs as “America’s Number One Intellectual Humorist.” “I was embarrassed by that billing” says Doc, “but I got over it when they started booking me 50 times per year.” “I made all 250 of those clubs at least twice” he says “and the people in the audience also started booking me for corporate functions because they were business leaders from every industry you could imagine and wanted fun programs at meetings they were planning. I was soon doing about 100 talks per year. I’ve eaten so much chicken my feet started to curl.”
But Blakely is quick to recognize the blessings that came with the opportunity to have a profession that has allowed him to mingle with the rich and famous in exotic places. “I’ve had an incredible life and rubbed elbows with Generals, Presidents, Actors, Astronauts, Sports Personalities, as well as Rednecks, Cowboys, Adventurers, Con Men and even a few normal people,” he says with a grin, “but I feel like…who was it who said ‘I never met a man I didn’t like,’ oh yeah, now I remember, it was Elizabeth Taylor.”
See www.docblakely.com for more background information. Wharton Rotary invites you to attend this unique 20th anniversary celebration of “The Return of The Swing Riders” with Doc and Mike Blakely. Mark the date, Saturday, September 24, 6 pm, Wharton Civic Center, Wharton, Texas on your calendar.