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Kicking Up Some Dust : Local group Shiloh will open the annual Gold Dust Gala at Seaside Park, which will include dinner, free dance lessons and dancing. Proceeds will benefit a local hospital.


Once again, the big social event of the country season has arrived. So dust off your boots and get duded up because the fourth annual Gold Dust Gala is a dance, a barbecue and benefit. Best of all, it's a special concert by 1990 Academy of Country Music's Vocal Group of the Year, Restless Heart.

Nearly 700 people are expected to tie on the feed bag, dance and romance the night away during the shindig Saturday at Seaside Park, formerly known as the Ventura Fairgrounds. This gala will include dinner, free dance lessons and dancing. Shiloh, the popular local five-man country group, will again perform. The band will open for Restless Heart and provide music after the concert for dancing until midnight.

All proceeds from the gala will be used for medical diagnostic equipment at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

In the last couple of years, Restless Heart has performed at the Ventura Theatre and opened for Patty Loveless at Santa Barbara's Arlington Theatre. And the group just keeps getting better. The energy from their tight vocal harmonies and soulful R&B-flavored country-rock tunes could light a city.

Restless Heart accolades include seven No. 1 records, three gold albums, four Grammy nominations and seven Country Music Assn. nominations. When people first hear the group, many folks--including yours truly--say they can't believe it's a country group. That's because the band can sound like straight-ahead country, add a saxophone for a bluesy jazz number, or recall the early Eagles sound.

But when they play hit after hit in concert, the audience always responds with delighted recognition that this one band has generated so many memorable songs including "That Rock Won't Roll," "I'll Still Be Loving You," "Why Does It Have to Be Wrong or Right," "Fast Movin' Train," "You Can Depend on Me," "Mending Fences" and "When She Cries."


For the second year, Crazy Bull instructors, John and Dawn Wilson, were a big recent hit teaching nearly 300 new-denim clad people to line dance at the "Ventura County Forty Leaguers Annual Barn Dance and Barbecue" in Oxnard. The charitable event raised $9,000 for the group's medical and health-field scholarships.


If you saw the Rhythm Rangers and dance instructor Rick Henderson on CNN or "Eyewitness News" Oct. 2, you weren't hallucinating. The night before, they had indoctrinated over 300 nouveau cow folk at the first Brentwood Area Chamber of Commerce Country & Western Night. Brentwood Honorary Mayor and television commentator David Horowitz invited the guys back for next year, saying: "Previously the annual mayor's ball has been a formal black tie affair. But these people are dancing and having a good time! Before, you couldn't even get 'em to stand up."

Well, local fans of the Rhythm Rangers already know it's hard to keep still when you hear their music. Watch the column for news of their upcoming CD and release party planned for next month.


And don't miss Henderson's last Country Night at Nicholby's in Ventura on Wednesday. Then watch for the new venue he's developing for Wednesdays and catch him there. Alexander's will phase out its Tuesday Country Night at the end of this month. But for the next 12 weeks you can find David Graves teaching at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Ban-Dar in Ventura. And the 7 p.m., Two-Steppin' Tuesday lessons at Cousin's Country Saloon in Simi Valley are booming and overflowing into the parking lot according to instructor, Miss Ila. Heads up, cowgirls: "There are more guys than women," she said, "about two to one. And the guys are really into learning to dance."


Since launching this column one year ago with a story about last year's Gold Dust Gala, I'm glad to report the country scene is still alive and kickin.' And thank you, readers, for the positive feedback and support.


* WHAT: Fourth annual Gold Dust Gala.

* WHERE: Agriculture Building at Seaside Park (former Ventura County Fairgrounds), 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

* WHEN: 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

* HOW MUCH: $50 per person ($28 tax deductible) including dinner.

* FYI: Tickets are available at The Wharf, 908 E. Front St., Ventura, 648-5035; McCabe's Music, 940 E. Main St., Santa Paula, 525-3558; during weekday business hours at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St., Ventura, 652-5009, and at the door.

* ETC: 5 p.m., cocktails, prizes and dance lessons; 6:30 p.m., barbecue, dancing and prizes; 7:30 p.m., Shiloh Country Band and dancing; 9 p.m., Restless Heart, concert and dancing.

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