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20240103 Heritage Square Jam stage band webEach Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m., there is a variety jam (country, gospel, and rock/roll music) led by master of ceremonies and outstanding bass guitarist Don McGhghy. This is one of three parks in the lower RGV that provides a place for area musicians to perform all 52 weeks of the year in their recreation hall.

During the November 2023 jam, I was welcomed by President Bruce Wright who provided me an overview of the park community and residents who live in mobile homes covering 35 acres. Heritage Square opened its doors to the seniors in 1979 and incorporated it in 1981.

Prior to the jam, the kitchen crew of Pam McGhghy, Geri Clark, and others provide a delicious meal for a modest price. In addition, halfway through the jam, these same people, with the assistance of resident bakers, provide a heavenly assortment of treats. Each jam starts with the pledge of allegiance and ends with a gospel song.

The list of jammers and the order in which they sing on stage with the band is organized by Ed Robinson who assists the ‘jam leader’ Don McGhghy. Another valuable person at the jam is Geri Clark who, in addition to her cooking responsibilities, also acts as “MC” and announces the winners of the 50/50.

20240103 Heritage Square Jam jammers webThe seasoned and vastly experienced stage band which supports each musician is composed of Don McGhghy, the jam leader, and bass guitarist; George Epley on lead guitar; Jess Elrick on lead guitar; Red Foster on rhythm guitar; Lewis Long on rhythm guitar; and Coleman Smith on pedal steel guitar.

In addition to the six stage band musicians, there were 39 jammers, some who live full time, like myself, in the RGV, while others are Winter Texans. The jammers participating were George Bowers, Geri Clark, Linda Crouse, Richard Daniel, Frank Deramus, Linda Deramus, Ed Ervin, Ron Ford, Verna Funk, Pete Gibson, Ray Glenn, Judy Goolsby, Carolyn Hein, Jane Heinen, Charlie Hrnicek, Patrick LaBore, Jane LaPoint, Donna Lipske, Darleen Moore, Don Nelson, Judy O’Hair, Tony Ozark, Shiri Pfeiffer, Anna Pisano, Frank and Dixie Rinchiuso, Ed Robinson, Dennis and Helen Salo, Linda Sandgrass, Hope Stockwell, Roy Stevens, Betty Thomas, Anna Weins, and Ruth White. Others included Carolyn, Donna, Steve, and Wally.

Among the 39 jammers and performers were two standouts, Don McGhghy and Jess Elrick.

Don lives full time with his wife Pam at Heritage Square. He started his musical career and performances at age 50, singing and playing acoustic and bass guitars. He has performed with numerous bands including Sipe and the Country Boys, The Bounty Hunter, plus many others. He also performed at Pepe’s on the River.
Don is now in charge of this jam plus manages the stage band at Green Gate Grove. At one time, he was also in charge of the jams at Mission Bell, Palm Shadows, and Tradewinds RV Resort. He continues to perform because he loves to entertain people.

20240103 Heritage Square Jam audience webJess Elrick, from Flagler, CO, is a Winter Texan living in Mission who is a vocalist and lead guitarist. Jess is a self-taught musician who plays by ear. He started learning the guitar at age 12. He was motivated by his mom to learn so that he could play his favorite music. Jess started performing with vocals at age 16. In addition, he learned on his own the techniques of the lead guitar.

Jess performed with both the Westernairs and Crooked Creek. He currently performs also at a jam at Dream Valley Ranch in Mission. Back in Colorado, he performs at retirement homes, school benefits and county fairs.

Everyone is invited to visit Heritage Square and meet the musicians and enjoy their music each Wednesday afternoon. You will also want to visit the friendly residents who will make you feel at home.

Heritage Square is a friendly and well managed 55 and over senior community (HOA) located at 300 S. Bryan Road in Mission.