The Band The Performers Behind the Music

 
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Jerry Roller Sr.

Steel Guitar

Jerry Roller Sr.

A life-long resident in the River Valley, Jerry began playing the steel guitar at age 15. His brother was given a steel guitar, and Jerry was fascinated by it. His brother had no interest in the instrument so Jerry inherited it. The first song he learned to play was “I Overlooked an Orchid.” After taking 13 lessons, he decided that was enough lessons.

Jerry is an accomplished musician with a tremendous ear for what makes each musical number sound good. He has played for some well-known musicians, including: Marvin Rainwater, Bobby Lord, Billy Walker, Narvel Felts, Karen Peck, Hank Thompson, John Berry, Marvin McAuliffe, and Carrie Underwood.

In addition to the steel guitar and dobro, Jerry plays regular guitar, piano, organ, and bass. He has been playing in the Little O’ Oprey Band since 1991 and is the band leader. His wife, Carlene, shares her vocal talent each week.

Jerry was a member of the band when it was voted the best country band in Northwest Arkansas in 2000. He also entertains the audience with his original songs: “Spring,” “Got ‘R Done,” and “West Fork 4-Alarm Fire.” He is retired from the insurance industry so he now spends his time giving music lessons and taking every opportunity he gets to play.

 
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Bill Goff

Bass

Bill Goff

Born in Heber Springs, Arkansas, Bill lived a number of years in Arizona. He moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1992 and joined the Little O’ Oprey Band shortly thereafter. He was a member of the band in 2000 when the band received the award for being the best country music band in Northwest Arkansas.

As with the other band members, Bill taught himself to play bass. His first instrument, however, was the acoustic guitar. When asked why he chose the bass, he said he always liked the rhythm instruments and someone gave him an instrument.

In addition to helping to keep the rhythm of the band on track, his smooth baritone voice is an asset to the Oprey show. As a member of the Board of Directors, Bill’s goal is to have a top-quality show. He said “I really, really like to pick. This is the best gig I’ve ever played and the best bunch of guys I’ve had the privilege to play with.”

Bill has five children and four grandchildren. He is a retired pest control technician.

 
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Tommy Kemp

Guitar

Tommy Kemp

Tommy became a member of the Little O' Oprey Band on September 6, 2008. He was not new to the band, however, since he had been a substitute lead player from time to time.

Born in Stockton, California, Tommy now lives in Muldrow, Oklahoma, with his wife, Kim. They have a daughter, Shannon, and son-in-law, Jesse. They have two grandchildren--Kyrsten and Kaden.

Tommy enjoys all types of music and began performing in 1971. He says his brother, Wayne, well-known song writer, was influential in his music career. He currently plays with a gospel group "One Way Flight." For a number of years he played for the Carol Hicks Ministry out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

In addition to the guitar, Tommy plays mandolin and bass.

 
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Jimmy Ritchey

Keyboard

Jimmy Ritchey

Jimmy became a member of the Little O' Oprey Band September 8, 2007, when he began playing keyboard full time. He had been a substitute with the band in various capacities prior to joining the band full time.

He is an accomplished musician, playing steel guitar, lead guitar, banjo, bass, and drums in addition to the keyboard. He also sings a variety of styles of music. He has played for several Nashville artists–Freddie Hart, Hank Thompson, Razzy Bailey, Barbara Fairchild, and Ralph Emory’s Nashville Now Band. He performed at the Ozark Mountain Hoedown show in Eureka Springs for three years.

Jimmy states that Charlie Rich and Conway Twitty were the greatest influences on his musical career. His favorite type of music is country–old and some new. He has won many talent show awards. He was three-time first place winner at Rogers High School.

Born in Rogers, Jimmy is a Northwest Arkansas native. He is now retired and living in Springdale. Of course, he plays music any opportunity he gets. He has four children–two sons and two daughters.

 
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Larry Poole

Drums

Larry Poole

Larry Poole, born in Yale, Oklahoma, has been a Northwest Arkansas resident since 1966.

Larry began his drumming career in 1972 when his brother needed a drummer in his band. His brother would teach Larry the beat of the songs they would be playing. A year later Larry was teaching his brother.

Larry was a member of the band in 2000 when the band was voted the best country band by the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards. He also received the 2003 People's Choice award. He has played for Carl Perkins, the Merit Quartet, the Bilderback Family, and the Singing Ledbetters.

Larry has been keeping the band and performers on the right beat since 1996. His rendition of "Wipe Out" livens up the show.