Top Singers Due Back in Town for the County Fair : It’s a good chance for those who missed seeing popular stars Hal Ketchum and Carlene Carter at earlier shows.


Sometimes opportunity does knock twice. So if you missed the local appearances of hot country stars Hal Ketchum and Carlene Carter during the last few months, Wednesday is your lucky night. That’s when Texas singer-songwriter Ketchum will headline the opening night of the Grandstand Concert Series at the Ventura County Fair. Joining him will be Carter, a third-generation member of one of country music’s legendary families.

In 1991, Ketchum burst on the country music scene with his highly successful debut album on Curb records, “Past the Point of Rescue.” And he scored another No. 1 with the first single release, “Sure Love,” off his album of the same name.

His eclectic style and penchant for acoustic sets has earned him a reputation as a balladeer and storyteller of what he calls “American music.” But fans also associate him with several upbeat hits including “Small Town Saturday Night,” “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “Mama Knows the Highway.”

And don’t let that haunting, distinctive voice fool you. Those who caught his November concert in Santa Barbara can tell you Ketchum is equally skilled at spinning a delicate vocal mood or bringing down the house with an electric set of rockin’ R&B; as he did jamming with buddy Seymour Duncan.


“Every Little Word,” his 1994 release on Curb records, generated the current hit single "(Tonight We Just Might) Fall in Love Again.”

Before the album’s release, Ketchum discussed the music during a phone call from Nashville. He said there is no particular theme to unify the songs.

“It’s probably a lot more like my live show, which is pretty bare bones. I like simplicity. But it’s hard to achieve. I grew up listening to old record collections and quartets. So I go for that instrumentation,” Ketchum said.

“There are some rockers, ballads and love songs. But there’s also a song like ‘Trail of Tears,’ ” he added. “This one’s about a great Nez Perce, Jackson Sundown, who won all-round champion at the 1916 Pendelton roundup. And in ‘Swing Low,’ I wrote about a homeless young mother and baby being sheltered by another homeless person.”


If some of Ketchum’s tunes get too heavy, you can count on Carter’s bouncing rock-a-billy style to lighten things up. Chances are she’ll perform lots of hits off her 1993 album, “Little Love Letters,” including “Every Little Thing” and “I Love You Cause I Want To.” But let’s hope she also brings out the autoharp as she did in February at the Ventura Theatre. The song, “Wild Rose,” dedicated to her grandma Maybelle Carter, was a touching acoustic treat.


Dance fans and newcomers might find John Sperry Reynolds’ “Boot Camp Events Dance ‘n’ Vacation” a novel way to learn some steps while enjoying an ocean-side stay in Santa Barbara.

From Aug. 19-21 you’ll find 18 instructors offering 34 beginning- to advanced-level dance workshops in country-Western, swing and ballroom, including two-step, waltz, polka, East and West Coast swing, Lindy hop, cha-cha, line dances and--the newest thing to hit the country dance circuit--nightclub two-step. And there will also be novice and advanced Jack & Jill competition for those who want to test their lead-and-follow skills.


Accommodations are in the Francisco Torres student housing facility on the UC Santa Barbara campus overlooking the ocean. So dance campers can also take advantage of the pool, fitness center, organized exercise walks, volleyball, golf, bike trails and pool tables. Private dance lessons may also be scheduled.

The event will include Friday- and Saturday-night dances. Meals must be reserved early. A weekend pass to all events is $35 per person; $109.95 per person includes all workshops, accommodations (double occupancy) and meals. All prices go up after Friday. For details or to make reservations, call 969-3130.


* WHAT: Hal Ketchum and Carlene Carter in concert.


* WHERE: Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

* WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

* COST: The concert is free with admission to the fair ($6 adults, $3 seniors and children age 6 and older).

* ETC.: For more information, call 648-3376.