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TISBA honors Jimmie Rodgers' country music contributions

By Staff
PLAYING MUSIC George Rogers, left, of Edinberg, Texas, plays the Dobro guitar on Tuesday, while Wayne Ryan of Brantford, Ontario, performs with members of The International Singing Brakeman's Association. TISBA is sponsoring a hospitality suite at the Best Western in conjunction with this week's Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker / staff Writer
May 8, 2002
They came from across America and, in some cases, the world.
Fans of Jimmie Rodgers and the legacy of country music he left met Tuesday in Meridian for fun, food and song in advance of this week's annual Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival.
Ryan, who lost his sight at age 5, made the annual 29-hour bus ride to Meridian to participate in the activities. He has listened to country music, mostly Rodgers' songs, since he was a child.
Group celebrates Rodgers
Ryan and 300 other Jimmie Rodgers fans are members of The International Singing Brakeman's Association, an organization dedicated to preserving Rodgers' memory and music.
This week, TISBA is sponsoring a daily hospitality suite for fans of Rodgers' music at The Depot Restaurant in the Best Western Motel on South Frontage Road.
TISBA, a nonprofit organization, was started in 1989 by Carl Fitzgerald and the late Charles Ezell, both from Meridian.
Its original mission: establish a Jimmie Rodgers museum and promote traditional country music. The group usually meets every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Best Western.
Events include family
In fact, Gibson said, TISBA will present one of its 300 members with a "Hall of Fame" award at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Depot. The award will honor significant loyalty to TISBA.
Leola Ezell, Charles' widow, serves as TISBA's secretary. She helps plan and coordinate activities, which will continue with more music and a dinner at 6:30 p.m. today.
Members pay an annual $5 fee and receive information by newsletter, phone calls and e-mail. TISBA's hospitality suite this week will feature amateur musicians who play Jimmie Rodgers' songs and a few of their own tunes.
Fans travel far
Flags displayed in the hospitality suite represent countries and states of fans who have attended past festivals including Australia, Canada, Germany and Great Britain.
Also on display: Jimmie Rodgers memorabilia and photos of celebrities who have performed at past festivals.
Anne S. Landrum, 60, of Meridian, is a second cousin to Jimmie Rodgers who called Landrum's mother "little cuz."
Fed Dulude, 66, of Downey, Calif., is attending his 21st Jimmie Rodgers festival this week.