The photo on the right is the old country store building where the Country Store Opry (CSO) opened its doors and held its first show in February 1967. This was the home of the CSO until February, 2004 when Ernie Mullenax, the Opry founder, died. Then the CSO moved its show to the Pendleton County High School auditorium in Franklin and the McCoy Theater in Moorefield. Today the shows are held at the Pendleton County High School auditorium in Franklin, the Landes Arts Center in Petersburg, The McCoy Grand Theater in Moorefield and The Bottling Works in Romney.
Wendell Nelson started playing acoustic guitar and singing at age 13 in a family bluegrass group. At age 19, Wendell discovered his love for country music. He became a charter member of the Country Store Opry which was started in 1967. In 1970, he recorded at Bradley's Barn in Nashville, TN. Later that year he moved to Baltimore, MD and played local clubs in that area prior to his employment with General Motors. Wendell is retired and now resides in Franklin, WV. He is the lead singer for the Country Store Opry.
A country girl from the start, Carolyn Simmons grew up on a farm in Friends Run just outside of Franklin, WV. She married Donnie Simmons and has one child and two grandchildren. Music has always been a huge part of her life either singing harmony with her father and sisters as the Bowers Family or playing piano for the Friends Run Church. As part of the Country Store Opry, she utilizes that harmony with each band member while playing an acoustic guitar. Some of her favorite solo country songs are Coal Miner's Daughter and You're Lookin' at Country.
"Coal Miner's Daughter"
Grey grew up on a farm in Pocahontas County near Cass, WV. When he was six years old he was stricken with double pneumonia and the doctor recommended harmonica playing in order to strengthen his lungs. His father purchased a harmonica for him and ensured that he played it every day for therapy. Grey served in the military during the Korean War and was assigned to the Army Security Agency. During this time he purchased several Hohner harmonicas. Grey earned a Masters degree from William and Mary in 1962 and spent the next 35 years in the education field. He and his wife, Mary Catherine, a retired teacher of special needs children, now reside on their farm in Brandywine, WV. They have two sons and one grandson.
"On Top of Ol' Smokey"
Danny started playing guitar at the age of 8. He grew up playing Bluegrass Gospel music with his family and played in his church band. By age 12, he started working with other instruments: Bass, Piano, Electric Guitar, and Banjo. At the age of 18 he started playing lead guitar full time with Carolyn & the Pilots Gospel Quartet. Later he played with several other Gospel groups. For the last 20 years, he has played lead Guitar, keyboard, and Pedal steel in several different Country bands, as well as the house band for the Crystal Springs Jamboree. Danny has had the opportunity to work with some great musicians in various recording studios. He has also had the privilege of opening shows for David Allan Coe and Bill Anderson. He is currently working with the Country Store Opry Band from Petersburg, WV. which he enjoys very much though his roots are in Bluegrass. He loves playing "old" country music on his Telecaster guitar. He is grateful to his wonderful parents for getting him started in music and thanks God for his talent and all the people that have given him a chance and reason to keep playing.
Elkins drummer Jeff Broschart has played drums since the age of 8 and is known for his versatility. As a performer, Broschart has toured and recorded with artists such as Mixed Company, Centerpiece, Linda Lee, Gloryland Band, Ginsangers, Linda Wagner, and the Appalachian Jazz Ensemble. Broschart enjoys his current position as the staff drummer for the Country Store Opry and the Whiskey River Band. Broschart has worked at the Randolph Technical Center for 28 years, leading youth in learning electricity and electronics and he is one of the lead teachers in West Virginia for the Power and Energy Program.
Debbie Kendrick Phillips started singing at age 9 with Mom and Dad and her brother Danny at church in Ohio. She has been part of many Gospel Trios and Quartets down thru the years, traveling and singing in many states including Colorado, Oklahoma, Va. WV and surrounding areas. She loves to sing Gospel ,Southern Gospel and Classic Country music. Debbie feels it a blessing to have the opportunity to sing on stage with the wonderful people of the Country Store Opry. She is extra blessed that her brother, Danny and husband, Mark are part of the band.
Mark Phillips started playing guitar at age 8. His dad taught him some chords and he was self taught from there. He plays bass guitar and drums. He has played bass professionally since 1974. His music background includes rock, classic country, and contemporary Christian. He has played for several local bands in Elkins WV including The American Theater and Crystal Springs Jamboree. He has also played up and down the east coast. Mark now plays bass guitar for the Country Store Opry and the music ministry at the Elkins Family Worship Center, Church of God. His favorite music is classic country and classic rock.