Wherever the Back Porch Boys of Semmes, Earl Hudgins and Don Jenkins, show up with their guitars and harmonicas, there's bound to be some toe-tapping and singing-along going on.
And the pair showed up at a lot of nursing homes, senior centers, festivals and charitable events last year. They play their music for free at such places and events as convalescent homes and fundraisers; they generally pass the hat for tips at church luncheons or meetings and charge $50 an hour to play at private parties.
Last year, they played for residents at Murray House, for Covenant Hospice on Veteran's Day, at Tillman's Corner Center for Seniors, Ashland Place Nursing Home, The Brennity at Fairhope, Parkway Seniors' Foundation fundraiser, Mobile Nursing and Rehabilitation, Semmes Heritage Day, and many other places, some as many as 3 times.
"We find what we do very gratifying," Hudgins said, noting that sometimes, a nursing home patient will look asleep or inattentive, then suddenly, as the men begin to play, will pat his or her foot in time to the music.
Hudgins was born in Norcross, Georgia and retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after 26 1/2 years. He became interested in the guitar after signing up his son for lessons. His son's interest didn't last long, but Earl's did, and while in the Coast Guard, he played wherever he was stationed. He now plays both the acoustic guitar and harmonica, and vocally leans toward Johnny Cash and Jimmy Rodgers, even doing a little Rodgers-style yodeling on occasion.
Jenkins came to Mobile from Newton, Mississippi in 1981. He learned to play guitar at age 10, following along with his fiddle-playing grandpa and a group of fellow musicians. He has a cigar-box guitar he likes to show off sometimes. And he particularly likes folk music, rock and roll, country and blues.
The Back Porch Boys, who can be reached through Semmes Senior Center, 649-2010, are slowing down some on their charitable activities this year. They are working on a CD of 10 original tunes. One special one they are proud of is "Tail of the Dragon." Don Jenkins rides a motorcycle, and he said that one route that cyclists particularly like is one by that name at the North Carolina-Tennessee border. The stretch of road has about a dozen curves, and appeals to riders, he said. The CD should be finished sometime this month.