For the next KASU Coffee House Concert June 16, four local and regional musicians reunite, about 25 years after they first played together.
Sarah Jo Roark and John T. Parks have performed as a vocal duo in restaurants and at private functions throughout the Melbourne-Batesville-Hardy area. The other duo – Vikki McGee and Sonny Campbell – are familiar players at Jonesboro area venues. Members of these separate duos played in a couple of different bands in the 1990s and are looking forward to being on stage together again.
Born in Port Barré, La., Vikki McGee is a descendant of a Louisiana musical family that included her great-grandfather, the legendary Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee; and her great-uncle Gerry McGee who played lead guitar with the instrumental surf rock group The Ventures, well known for the hits “Walk Don’t Run” and “Pipeline.”
As a rhythm guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Vikki has led many bands, including “Louisiana Fire,” that performed at events for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. She often performs at Jonesboro nightspots with Sonny Campbell of Jonesboro, who plays the bass guitar and sings background vocals.
McGee and Campbell co-wrote all the songs on a CD collection entitled “One Last Song.” She has recorded several other CDs, including the collection
“Never Knowing.” Over the last decade, her complete ensemble, the Vikki McGee Band, has performed at KASU music events in Jonesboro, Paragould and Newport.
Roark and Parks are members of “The Lockhouse Orchestra,” a rock-and-roll/rhythm-and-blues cover band founded by Danny Dozier in 2006 at a Batesville restaurant to perform tribute shows to music legends. In 2014, KASU brought the Lockhouse Orchestra to The Forum in downtown Jonesboro to present a memorable Levon Helm tribute concert that drew fans from as far away as Marvell, Arkansas, the hometown of the legendary musician.
Sarah Jo Roark of Melbourne was hired in 1992 to join “Louisana Fire,” a band formed by Vikki McGee and Ronnie Brumley. She says, “Having kids and other aspects of life took took Vikki and me to different places, and after a few years hiatus I started my own band, Double Shot. In looking for a bass player it was suggested I take a listen to this tall skinny 17 year-old-kid from Sulphur Rock. He more than made the cut! John Parks and I have been performing together, with a few years off in between, ever since. “
Roark says that after working in Double Shot for a few years she and Parks asked Vikki to join their band. “She'd been out of the business for a little while and I wanted her back. Then a couple years later, it was hiatus time for me as I was having my third child, and Vikki and John begin working together.” A multi-instrumentalist on guitar, mandolin, bass guitar and keyboards, he joined Vikki McGee’s band as a bass guitarist while he was a student at Arkansas State University in the early 2000s.
Parks, who now lives near Batesville, has recorded two CDs of original songs – “Sleeping in the Henhouse” and “The Devil’s Road.” His own songs reflect the influence of blues, folk, Tin Pan Alley, country and pop/rock. Roark has recorded a CD of modern country songs written by some of Nashville’s emerging songwriters. Her vocals talents appear on many recordings made in this area and onstage with various bands. Sarah Jo plays rhythm guitar and percussion.
The two duos will perform separate set lists that include their original material before reuniting to perform together some nostalgic covers of various pop/rock hits. McGee said, “This is how it all comes back around, and we appreciate the opportunity to get back together and play on the same stage.”