Photo courtesy Cameron Powell Studio
Fron row from left: Phyllis Smith (Joanna Smith’s grandmother), Aline Starr (Kyle’s Everson’s grandmother) and “Miss” Chole Ann Tennille; back row from left, Kyle Everson, Joanna Smith.
Miss Chloe Ann Tennille’s Grocery store is on the outskirts of Patmos on the road to Colquitt (Phillipsburg Road). She is one of the sweetest, most beautiful, southern ladies you will ever meet. If you’ve never stopped to have a bottled Coca-Cola with salted peanuts in it, then I highly recommend it.
My husband, Lamar, and I drove up to “Miss” Chloe Ann’s store the week before Thanksgiving and noticed the long hay trailer parked out front. We went inside to get one of her hand-cut ribeye steaks, and she invited us to a country music show in her parking lot on Friday night after Thanksgiving. I remembered going last year and I really wanted Lamar to experience this.
Back to the hay trailer parked out front. It was there to double as a stage for Joanna Smith. Joanna Smith is a beautiful, young country music star-on-the-rise who is quickly finding her place in the country music world of Nashville, Tenn. She sang at the Ryman Auditorium as an opener for Chris Young, before coming home to southwest Georgia for Thanksgiving. Joanna’s grandfather lived up the road from Miss Chloe Ann’s, and Joanna came with him to the store many times as a young girl. As proud granddaddies often do, he had her sing for everyone in the store. She attended school in Blakely and excelled in the music productions there.
So, on that Friday night, we grabbed Lamar’s dove bucket and my folding chair to make the two-minute drive to Miss Chloe Ann’s Store. We wanted to get there early to get a seat near the front, and I did not want to park a mile away. Things like this are normally a rarity in Patmos, but this was now a third-time happening — the 3rd annual Joanna Smith Thanksgiving Concert at Miss Chloe Ann’s! We joined the line of trucks and cars heading south to Miss Chloe Ann’s. We were early enough to park across the road from George’s house (Miss Chloe Ann’s son).
It was a wonderfully cool, beautiful south Georgia night. An almost full moon was shining in the dark sky. The parking lot of the store was filled with bales of hay for seating, places for folding chairs, and even a few pickups backed up with open tailgates. The trailer stage was decorated with hay and huge bags of farm animal feed. The backdrop was a big, round, red Coca-Cola sign hanging on the wall of the store.
Joanna’s daddy, Tony Smith (a musician himself), was setting up and adjusting the sound system. For the past two years, Joanna has been accompanied by Kyle Everson, from neighboring Miller County. Kyle is an incredible musician and plays in the Chris Young Band. He can play just about any instrument you give him.
After a lot of visiting, hugging, renewing old friendships, the show was about ready to kick off. At least 300 people filled the store’s parking lot. Phillipsburg Road was lined on both sides with cars and trucks at least a half mile each way. Law enforcement had to direct traffic.
Lynn, George’s wife, welcomed everyone on Miss Chloe Ann’s behalf, and announced there were free Cokes, coffee, Moon Pies, and Honey Buns up front. They had been donated in honor of Joanna’s granddaddy, Mr. W.P. Smith. Miss Chloe Ann, her sister Mildred and brother Marion, and other family members were in front row seats.
Things got quiet and Joanna belted out her first song about all of her girlfriends “Gettin’ Married.” Later, she did her latest release, “We Can’t Be Friends.” She writes many of her songs about things she knows, about things that come from her heart. Another of these is “Water Tower Towns.” I especially enjoyed one song she sang for her grandmother who was in the crowd: “Large Farm Animals.” She sang and played for about an hour, and those of us from the country were thrilled by this connection to the world of Country Music Stars. Who knows? Miss Chloe Ann’s may become the venue where all rising country artists aspire to play.
Wanda Hudgins is the wife of Dougherty County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins.