Lee Academy for the Arts is bringing Jim Stafford of “Spiders and Snakes” fame direct from Branson, Mo., to the Krider Performing Arts Center in Paris for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17.
General admission tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door while VIP meet and greet tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Tickets are available in Paris at Lura Lee’s, The Iron Place, Merison’s and Commercial Bank’s East Wood Street branch. Online tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com.
Stafford, a native of Winter Haven, Fla., entered the musical field while still in high school, playing in a band that included Kent LaVoie (later known as Lobo) and Gram Parsons, who later gained fame with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
After going solo, Stafford cracked Billboard’s Top 40 with a song called “Swamp Witch,” which was produced by Lobo, in 1973.
His biggest hit, “Spiders and Snakes,” sold more than 2 million copies and earned a gold record in 1974, while going to number three on the charts. It was a comedically-slanted song, as were subsequent hits that included “Wildwood Weed” and “My Girl Bill.”
Stafford has appeared numerous times on television, including 26 appearances on the “Tonight Show,” hosted “Nashville on the Road” for three years and was a regular performer and head writer for the “New Smothers Brothers Show” in 1988-89. In 1990, he moved to Branson and has been there at his own theater ever since.
In the late 1970s, Stafford was married to singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry, known for her hit “Ode to Billie Joe.” They have a son, Tyler Gentry Stafford.
The concert in Paris will benefit the Lee Academy, which provides educational and cultural opportunities through year-round classes, workshops and activities for all ages in the restored classrooms as well as preserving the historic Lee School building. Classes in pottery, photography, painting, yoga and belly dancing (just to name a few) are held on an ongoing basis or scheduled time frames.
What was the school cafeteria now is used by three civic clubs for weekly or twice-monthly meetings. It has been used for wedding receptions, class reunions and small musical concerts to name just a few more ways the space has been put to community use.
This summer, a summer art camp for grades K-4 has just finished and a four-day dance camp for ages 10 and younger is beginning Monday.