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Our view: Just don't go Hollywood on us, Mason

  • Mason Ramsey of Golconda prepares to perform Wednesday afternoon in his first live concert at the Harrisburg Walmart.

    Mason Ramsey of Golconda prepares to perform Wednesday afternoon in his first live concert at the Harrisburg Walmart.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

 
By The Editorial Board
updated: 4/13/2018 11:03 AM

Twenty-four hours before performing in the parking lot of the Harrisburg Walmart this week, the nation's newest YouTube star flew out to the West Coast for a taping of The Ellen Show.

"I'm a country boy," 11-year-old Mason Ramsey explained to an enraptured Ellen DeGeneres, sitting on the edge of the studio chair so his feet would reliably touch the ground.

For anyone who has just emerged from under a rock, Mason is the Golconda wunderkind who is tearing up the internet with his rendition of Hank Williams Sr.'s "Lovesick Blues," complete with his own yodeling warble, which makes the song his own.

He came back home to southern Illinois Wednesday, to a concert outside the Harrisburg Walmart.

Walmarts have been the performance training ground for his singing/yodeling style, but the Harrisburg Walmart is the first place he ever performed, and that makes it special.

Mason did about five songs, all written or performed by Williams Sr., was honored by Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek (Wednesday was Mason Ramsey Day in Harrisburg) and enthused, "You're in for a real treat with this one!" as he began "Hey, Good Lookin''."

Anyone who hasn't fallen in love with this kid by now just hasn't been paying attention.

It's straightforward country music -- a clear, sweet and adorably untrained voice, belting out tunes we know and love, that have spoken to us for decades. The simple guitar chords underpinning his music add to the authenticity.

Plus, there's just Mason himself, an uncomplicated 11-year-old. The lyrics of his songs are dark or light, depending on Hank's mood, but in Mason's hands they are nothing but innocence, like these lines from "Hey, Good Lookin'."

I got a hot-rod Ford and a two-dollar bill

And I know a spot right over the hill

There's soda pop and the dancin's free

So if you wanna have fun come along with me

Mason has his dreams. He wants to sing at the Grand Ole Opry theater, which he's going to do on Saturday.

He also wants to go to college, and Walmart just plunked $15,000 into his college fund.

Mason Ramsey won't be 11 years old forever. We suspect he'll grow from being a nice kid into a nice adult.

But what a treat that he's among us here and now. And years from now, we can all say we knew him when.