HISTORY OF THE FRONT PORCH PICKERS CLUB
The Front Porch Pickers club was founded in 2001 with the original members being Ike McCloskey, guitar; Ray Kelley, dobro; Jim Kinnear, guitar; and Kenny Ward, mandolin. The group met in Ray Kelly’s kitchen and other members’ homes for about six months and, as membership grew, they met in church rooms throughout the community as well as any available rooms at King's Point. The first woman to play with the group was Mary Lu who played spoons and washboard for three months before she had to return to West Virginia. Later, Jeanette Harrington joined as the group’s “Minnie Pearl.” Jeanette played spoons and washboard and also told wonderfully humorous imaginary stories about members sitting at the local hardware store each week chatting. She gave away a Goo-Goo Cluster candy bar each week to the first person to answer her “question of the week."
The first time the Front Porch Pickers played publicly was at a memorial service for member Eddie Lahowski in the King's Point Banquet Room. Before Eddie died he had said he wanted his violin to be played “one more time” at his memorial service and so it was. His favorite songs were You Are My Sunshine and Pennsylvania Polka.
In 2003 Ike McCloskey with help from folks at the Community Association Office and good friend Kelly Emerson wrote By-Laws for the Club to be called the Country Music Club, aka, Front Porch Pickers, and applied for membership with the Community Association. Hence it became permanently organized as one of the many “clubs” sanctioned by the Community Association. The number of Pickers on the rolls at the time was twenty-two. Ike McCloskey was president of the club for it’s first four years. The club’s original purpose was to attempt to preserve the classic country music style using only acoustic instruments.
Very instrumental in the Club’s music presentation was member Joann Podgurski who was appointed music director soon after joining the group. She was an experienced music specialist and singer. She began to organize the song book and ran the Wednesday afternoon sessions first hour of “practice” helping the club members work together in the proper presentation of their songs. Also she and her husband Joe owned sound equipment which the relatively new Club was allowed to use. Another member (at large), Kelly Emerson, helped the club buy it’s first professional sound system and, as CA Maintenance Supervisor, was very supportive when the Club was in need of something from the CA.
The Club has grown to a membership of approximately 60 members during the winter season and has become a household name under the outstanding leadership of current president, David Lickfeldt who was first elected in 2008. David has led this wonderful group of musicians to become one of the finest clubs the CA has ever sanctioned. Under David’s leadership the By-Laws were updated and permission was obtained for the Front Porch Pickers to move in 2011 from playing in the Armstrong-Heritage rooms to the larger Rollins Theater.
A great deal of the club’s success has to go to our faithful and loyal audience which has contributed more good to the club than can ever be repaid and to the volunteers on sound, Kevin Kilbane, and usher, Don Peck, who are present every week adjusting individually the sound equipment to help the musicians perform at the microphones and helping audience members be comfortably seated for the two hours of musical entertainment.
Budd Grubb was the first upright bass player, and he was instrumental in teaching Jan Ring, the current upright bass player, to play the instrument. Charlie Goode, lead guitar player, taught a lot of the band members special licks and runs on the guitar. John Manning, vocalist, was an inspiration to all singing and demonstrating that music is great therapy and something to enjoy no matter what life challenges one is dealt. “New York Jimmy” Wilkom helped the Club realize even a guy from Queens could enjoy and perform Country Music! Member Harry Goldenberg for many years was a joy to watch playing his self-made (with a washtub, broom stick and string) “gut-bucket.” Other members no longer living that are missed are Chuck Norris, guitar, Joe Mosheim, and Bob Lilly, guitarist. Bob built the Front Porch Pickers website. Martin Fosse now has taken over that responsibility.
Of the original founding members only Ike McCloskey and Jim Kinnear remain (at this writing) as members of the group and both are life-term board members of the club.
The above information was compiled by: Ike McCloskey, Jim Kinnear and President David Lickfeldt.
Bonnie M. Mullen, Secretary August 15, 2016