Well, the concert so many of us had been waiting months for has come and gone. However, the memories of that wonderful afternoon of great music will live on for many years to come. Dr. Doreen Ketchens, nicknamed “Lady Louis” because of her ability to hit and hold powerful high notes and her love of Louis Armstrong’s performance style, did not disappoint and brought the house down at the Woodlands Auditorium on Sunday, October 15. 

Dr. Doreen Ketchens brought the house down at the Woodlands on October 15.

    With such high expectations building from months of anticipation, Doreen still managed to exceed those with three phenomenal performances, including “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” Most of us are likely familiar with these classics, but never had I heard such moving renditions of them before – and very likely will never again – of course unless I witness another of Doreen’s live performances. I’ve no doubt that everyone there at the Woodlands that afternoon has the same opinion.

Dr. Doreen Ketchens gives an enthusiastic audience her rendition of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” as Dr. Craig Hamilton directs the Hot Springs Concert Band at the October 15 concert.

    Since the concert, the accolades have been rolling in from various sources,  through personal accounts and social media – not only for Doreen but for the Hot Springs Concert Band itself. Some who attended the concert understandably did so primarily on the rave reviews and notoriety of Doreen Ketchens. Having not attended many, if any of the band concerts in times past, Sunday’s performance with Doreen revealed to some just what a high-quality community band our area of the state is blessed with under the talented artistic leadership and direction of Dr. Craig Hamilton. 

Hot Springs Concert band president Kathy Hendricks presents Doreen Ketchens with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for her magnificent performance at the concert.

    The concert also had a somber moment. One of the band’s own, Mr. Ken Williams, was honored posthumously for his twenty years of faithful service to the Hot Springs Concert Band as a trombonist, associate conductor, and dear friend. Ken died in April 2022 when he stopped along Interstate 30 to help extract a family from their car after having been struck by another vehicle. He saved the lives of a grandmother and her grandchild before he was hit in the head by a flying hubcap from a passing car. Ken died as he lived: helping others. Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends – even friends he didn’t even know. Ken’s family was recognized and honored, and his wife was presented with a bouquet of roses and a special award of honor and gratitude to Ken from the band. Thank you, Ken!

Band president Kathy Hendricks presents Mrs. Ken Williams with flowers in honor of her husband’s twenty years of faithful service to the Hot Springs Concert Band. Ken passed away in April 2022 (see article).
Dr Craig Hamilton strikes a festive mood on stage at a Christmas concert of yesteryear.

     The band is now preparing for its annual Christmas concert, which will again this year be sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Hot Springs Village this year. This concert is usually a sell-out, as folks always look forward to this perennial staple of the Christmas season. As always, it will be fun and festive and provide a wide variety of music, from traditional to contemporary songs of the season. Selections will include “A Christmas Festival,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Christmas Winds,” “The Drummer Boy’s Bolero,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” and more!  Come prepared to sing along with the band on some of your holiday favorites. With the Kiwanis Club sponsorship, please remember that this concert is also special in that it will provide a great opportunity for you to contribute to the Kiwanis programs for children and youth. This is especially important during the Christmas season, when giving is such a central theme.   

The concert will be held on Thursday evening, December 14 at 7:00 at the Woodlands Auditorium in Hot Springs Village. Although the concert is over a month away, place this date on your calendar now and get your tickets soon, as they may go fast. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at hotspringsvillage.thundertix.com, from members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Hot Springs Village, at the Woodlands box office, or from Hot Springs Concert Band members. 

By Jeff Olson

Author Jeff Olson Hot Springs Village

Jeff Olson, Author