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Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:00 pm


Randy Sparks, founder of The New Christy Minstrels, performs his acoustic folk music with three other members, Becky Jo Benson, Jennifer Smith and Chuck Cole, today at Sparks in the Park.

Founded in 1961, The New Christy Minstrels were named for Edwin P. Christy's 1800s singing troupe, Christy's Minstrels, who were known for introducing many Stephen Foster songs.

The group made their national television debut on "The Andy Williams Show" in 1962, and later won a Grammy Award for their recording "Presenting The New Christy Minstrels." They consisted of eight original members, who still appear with the group, as well as 11 newer members.

Following their debut performance in 1962, the group performed at Carnegie Hall, the Coconut Grove in L.A. and the Latin Quarter in New York City. During the New York performance, the Minstrels recorded their album, "Ramblin," which earned them a gold record and a national hit single, "Green Green." Other hits produced by the group include "Denver," "Mighty Mississippi," "This Land is Your Land" and "Drinking Gourd." Out of its many members, some have gone on to fame including Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes.

In the fall of 2005, the Minstrels recorded "Christmas, Volume II: 42 Years Later."

All proceeds from the concert benefit the museum and Micke Grove Zoo. Sparks hopes people will attend to help support the community.

"I have forever enjoyed a very warm and caring relationship with the folks of Lodi and Stockton, and now I'm asking for your support of the Micke Grove Zoo and the San Joaquin County Museum," he said in a press release.


"A Knight's Tale" kicks off the annual summer movie series at Victory Park on Friday. The event is sponsored by the Stockton Arts Commission and the Haggin Museum's U-34's, a group of staff members who organize events at the museum.

U-34's member Kimberly Bowden said the event is not just about movies, it is being held to help promote social gatherings.

"These events are far more than outdoor movies. They revive the spirit of small-town gatherings and backyard socials," Bowden said in a press release.

"A Knight's Tale" stars Heath Ledger as a young squire with a gift for jousting. The film is a contemporary take on "The Canterbury Tales" and is packed with action, comedy and romance. In 2002, the film won the MTV Movie Award for best kiss and best musical sequence.

Those who attend the event are encouraged to bring a blanket or folding chairs and food. Free popcorn will be available.

Other movies in the summer series include "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Beauty and the Beast."

- Compiled by Pam Bauserman



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