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Jeff Smith, owner of Studio 2100 in Springfield, helped with the baseball music CD concept of Mark West and Randle Chowning by allowing Tony Orlando use of his studio during one of the few times the Branson entertainer could be in Springfield.
Jeff Smith, owner of Studio 2100 in Springfield, helped with the baseball music CD concept of Mark West and Randle Chowning by allowing Tony Orlando use of his studio during one of the few times the Branson entertainer could be in Springfield.

After 5: The Sounds of Summer

Posted online
As Major League Baseball opening day nears, music played in all baseball parks could have an Ozarks touch.

A group of local musicians led by Mark West, owner of Downhome Productions in Nixa, and Randle Chowning, a co-founder of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, have recorded “Songs of the Game,” a CD of new and old baseball songs.

West’s event production company is known for creating stages for corporate events, such as for Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops, and U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. But during the last several years, he’s spent countless hours of personal time chasing a boyhood dream.

Calling themselves the Left Field All-Stars, West recruited recording artists Chowning; Branson entertainer Tony Orlando; Kerry Cole and Tracy Cole, former members of the Lefty Brothers; Lloyd Hicks, who sings the Andy’s Frozen Custard jingle; Nancy Johnson; Don Ellis of The Skeletons; and Misti Wilson.

After completion, West sent the CD to all 30 MLB teams. He says the clubs in Detroit and New York have expressed interest in using the music in their parks, and West is hopeful for more.
The CD was released in 2009, but it was sold in limited locations.

West’s push to get the CD used in stadiums and ballparks began in December 2010.

“The initial goal, which we’re starting to see happen, actually, was something that’s catered to be played in ballparks, or maybe cable, or possibly a movie situation,” Chowning says. “We’re getting response now from major league ballparks.”

Broadcast Music International will track the use of the songs on the CD, and royalties will be distributed based on the play.

The project began in 2001 when Chowning was living and working in Nashville, Tenn., and West kept an office there. He wrote “Long Ball,” which is performed by Ellis on the CD. Chowning returned to the Springfield area in 2006, and West convinced him to work with him on “Songs of the Game” in 2008.

“I knew my skills weren’t quite good enough as far as the writing and producing,” West says. “I knew I needed someone like him. I’m not a good enough musician to sing some of the songs myself.”

Chowning and West then looked for performing artists to participate.

Both men were familiar with the Lefty Brothers, who paid their dues at Springfield nightclub The Townhouse for several years. In the late 1990s, Orlando stopped by the club to hear the Lefty Brothers perform and was impressed enough to offer the brothers a gig as his band in Branson.
After the Coles joined West’s project, they thought of their friend Orlando.

“Tony is a huge baseball fan,” Kerry Cole says. “Every time we’re in a city in-season, we go to a game. We just thought it would be a natural.”

In March 2009, Orlando accepted an invitation to perform on the CD. An avid New York Yankees fan, he came up with the concept for the song, “Diamonds Are A Boy’s Best Friend.” Chowning penned the song, and Orlando sang it.

West used numerous musicians to ensure that the songs didn’t sound the same. Recording work on the project took place at separate studios owned by Jeff Smith, Oran Thornton and Nick Sibley. Smith’s place, Studio 2100 on North National Avenue, was important because it was the only one available for Orlando’s schedule.

The project was a labor of love. As a youngster, West wanted to spend every waking hour playing baseball, and he remembers listening to Kansas City Royals games while growing up on a farm near Kansas City.

“It is the one thing I could talk to my dad about that wasn’t work,” West says. “Baseball is the generational common denominator.”

Though West never played on a MLB park, he’s hoping the songs he helped produce might get played in them.

“When I envisioned this project, I wanted baseball parks – Little League all the way up to Major League – to use this,” West says.

Chowning and West don’t plan to go on any concert tours with the new CD anytime soon.

“We’re not going to be the next Lady Gaga, that’s for sure,” Chowning says.[[In-content Ad]]

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