Laughing with Lucas

This is a review I wrote back in July. This would make a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for any young ones in your family.


Laugh with Lucas at the Banjo Farm

By Brent Wilcox

“I want to hear Lucas Ross again,” said Kai from the back seat of the vehicle as we were driving from Oklahoma City to Minco.

I had no problem with that request so I started Banjo Farm playing again.

The comedic genius of Lucas Ross is that he makes me laugh (I’m 51 years old) and he makes seven year old Kai laugh too. Lucas also happens to be a darn good musician.

On Ross’ new album his banjo playing shines on all eight tracks, but it stands out even more (in my opinion) on the last three tracks. These three songs were recorded live with the Oklahoma Community Orchestra.

On the first of those three songs, we hear orchestra conductor Irvin Wagner ask Lucas what he is doing up on stage. “I thought I could join the string section!” Wagner tells him he has to audition first. The audition is Lucas playing his banjo against the entire orchestra in Duelin’ Banjos.

The other two songs Ross recorded live with the orchestra are his original song S.O.B.K. (We Got Bees) which was on his first album and The Muppets’ song Rainbow Connection.

On the title song, Lucas calls his grandma and tells her that he needs “something new to play” and so his Mema takes him to the Banjo Farm “the one place that instruments get to play.” Accordions swim in an aquarium, triangles grow on trees and “all the instruments on display from xylophones to old trombones.” The song tells a fun story and is cartoonish, which in my mind, makes me envision animated characters.

The next song is Kai’s favorite, probably because he can relate to the main character who is a kid who “Faked Sick” to stay home from school, but there are also many lines in the song that makes Kai laugh out loud. The kid in the song has a 190 degree temperature because he put the thermometer up to a heater and he tells his mom he needs to stay home. A couple of the lines that draws laughter out of Kai every time he hears it include: “Mom, my toenails and my rear hurts,” and later he’s telling his mom about an embarrassing incident at school which includes “Mom, my food went everywhere plus I ripped my pants and everyone saw my underwear.” The song starts out with just Lucas playing the banjo, but shortly other instruments join in. Lucas also plays the accordion on this song.

On Ninja Dog, the third song on the album, the barking dog in the song is actually Ross’s six-year-old son Simon. In the song, he thinks his dog might be a super hero.  Or he could be an archeologist because he digs and “maybe he’ll dig up a dinosaur, ooh! and be on the front page of the newspaper!” His real dog actually did appear on the front page of the Millennium a couple weeks ago when we covered the release of the new album. The Ross’s dog Sprocket appears on the roof of the house behind Lucas in the cover art of Banjo Farm.

Bored Cow, the fourth song on the album, has an awesome beat that makes me and Kai both want to get up and dance. But Lucas sounds totally different. He sounds like a cross between Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley singing to a Beach Boys beat. There are many bovine-related jokes. You will be “a-moooosed” listening to Bored Cow.

The fifth song is a cover of Late for School, the Steve Martin song from his 2009 Grammy-winning album. Anyone who knows Lucas knows that Steve Martin is his comedic idol, but probably also his biggest banjo influence. Lucas does a super job covering this song, and his banjo playing is exceptional. Ross wrote all the songs except this one, Duelin’ Banjos and Rainbow Connection.

I highly recommend this album for anyone who has a sense of humor and likes laughing and those who enjoy music. For those who have never listened to Ross, if you like Steve Martin, or Sesame Street, or the Muppets – then you will enjoy Lucas Ross and his second album. Banjo Farm is good clean fun for adults and children. You can download it digitally from iTunes for $7.92 or we have CDs available for $8 at the Re-Store.

A Favorite Memory (Rain Man)

On my birthday in 2015 (my 50th), Kelly and I got to attend an awesome reunion. This is the story I wrote for the newspaper about that reunion.


By Brent Wilcox for the Minco Millennium

Do you remember the scene from the Academy Award winning 1988 movie Rain Man where actors Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman get out of their car on a country road and walk up to a white house with a big front porch? Cruise’s character Charlie Babbitt says, “I want you to look normal, or normal as possible. Put your hands down.” Raymond (Hoffman’s character) says, “Four minutes to Wapner.”

Charlie knocks on the door several times and then a lady in a red house dress opens the door. Charlie tells an elaborate lie about how he is with the Nielson Company and the lady’s family could be chosen as a Nielson family. The whole time Charlie is going on with this lie, Raymond is muttering and wobbling back and forth. The lady, played by actress Beth Grant, asks who Raymond is and as Charlie begins to tell her he is his partner, she slams the door shut.

Raymond begins to lose it and goes from window to door, wobbling back and forth. “One minute to Wapner!” The lady is watching out the small window in the door and we see this herd of little boys get up and go to the window.

Finally the lady opens the door again and says loudly, “What is going on out here!” Charlie comes clean and says he lied to her. He explains that Raymond is his brother and says, “If he doesn’t get to watch People’s Court in about 30 seconds he’s going to throw a fit right here on your porch. Now you can help me or you can stand there and watch it happen.”

She says, “Well we like to watch cartoons, do you think he would settle for that?” The scene then cuts to the television tuned to the People’s Court. We see Raymond sitting in the floor looking up at the TV. As we hear Judge Wapner talking in the background, the camera scrolls around the room and we see the face of each of the lady’s six sons. We then hear the youngest of the boys crying while his mom says, “Daddy’s not here right now sweetheart.”

That three minute scene was filmed 27 years ago just east of Hinton, Oklahoma on Highway 37 over a two-day period. This movie and that scene were the first real big break for actress Beth Grant. She has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows over the last quarter of a century. The six boys are actually real brothers from Hinton, the Dougherty boys.

Grant was in Oklahoma again filming another movie in our state, this one entitled “Great Plains.” She and the Doughertys have wanted to have a reunion over the years and it finally happened on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

Grant had been filming scenes in El Reno and after wrapping up there, she and her producer drove to Hinton to the Dougherty’s Royal Oaks Farms. It was just like a long-gone family member coming home with Beth Grant hugging each boy as well as their parents Michael and Catherine. As Grant hugged the boys’ sister Elizabeth, she said, “I tried to get you in the scene too.”

The script actually called for the mom character to have two kids. Grant said that Marie Rowe, the casting director came to her and said she was actually going to have six kids.

“I said ‘Boy, I’ve been busy!’ and she asked if I would like to go meet the actual kids,” said Grant. She then recollected going out to the Dougherty’s farm and meeting the kids prior to filming. “I got there and just fell in love.”

Real-life-mom Catherine brought out an old photo album of photos she had taken during the filming of Rain Man. As Grant looks through the 27-year-old photos she points to one photo of her and the boys in the living room of the old farm house.

Beth looking at photos
Beth Grant and Catherine Dougherty look at old photos from the movie shoot 27 years earlier.

“I’ve had that photo on my wall all these years!” she said.

Come to find out that same photo hangs on a wall in each of the boy’s homes too.

When she came to a photo of her in the red house coat she said, “They made me try on 18 different dresses before picking this one.”

After sharing hugs and memories at Royal Oaks Farms, everyone loaded up into their vehicles and made the short drive to the farm house where the scene was filmed.

As everyone walked to the front of the house where the scene begins in the movie, more memories began to be shared by Grant and the Dougherty brothers.

“Look at this! This is an iconic porch for all time,” exclaimed Grant. “And it’s going to live into perpetuity, and having gotten Best Picture it will be preserved forever!”

We learn that Andrew was the baby boy crying in the movie. John remembers being confused and asking if Grant was his “real mom.” He also remembered being promised cartoons and candy, neither of which were provided.

Grant said, “I’ve just got to put in a plug for making movies in Oklahoma! This is my third movie in Oklahoma. Just working on Great Plains and I did Heartland this summer. It’s a beautiful place to work; the people are friendly and wonderful. The crews are fantastic, the best crews in the world.”

Pointing to the Doughertys she said, “These people, it affected their lives to have this movie made here. They’ve grown into such incredible young men, I’m so proud of you guys! I’ve already cried three times and not going to do it again!”

After the reunion, Catherine Dougherty described the reunion as magical. As observers we would agree.