George Wilson read the December 2013 issue of “Southern Kentucky Health and Family,” the monthly feature magazine published by the Commonwealth Journal, with great interest.
In it was an interview with Marlon Hargis, a Somerset native and longtime member of the rock group Exile. Hargis stated that he didn’t “understand the lack of recognition” for his musical accomplishments by his old hometown.
“Despite what we’ve accomplished, Somerset has overlooked Exile and they’ve overlooked me,” he said.
That’s about to change.
Wilson, Economic Development Director for the City of Somerset, took inspiration from that article to propose an Exile Homecoming of sorts, an opportunity to honor Hargis and the band for their career in the music industry that’s spanned five decades.
“I thought, ‘What a great idea! What can we do for him?’” said Wilson regarding his reaction to the Hargis interview. “The mayor talked to the city council about planning an event.”
The result will be a special concert event at Somersport Park on Saturday, June 7 featuring lots of live music. City organizers see it as a way to spark more musical events at the park and bring attention its new look — a new concession stand, new restrooms, and new sport fields.
“It gives us a chance to show off our new buildings to the public,” said Wilson.
Things get underway at 4:30 p.m., and there will be two other Nashville musical acts playing ahead of Exile: Cindy Standage, a country artist who has opened for acts like Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard — and cover band The Devonshires, known for their takes on bands like The Beatles.
After them, Wilson said, there will be a special presentation, as choir students from all three local public high school will come together to sing a medley of Exile songs, and Mayor Eddie Girdler will present Hargis with a key to the city and honor him as a “Somerset Colonel.” Wilson also noted plans for a scholarship in Hargis’ name to be made for a Somerset Community College student.
After this, Exile will play for an approximately 45-minute set, starting around 8 p.m.
Exile has been active since 1963, and had their biggest hit with “Kiss You All Over” in 1978. Other well-known tunes include “Woke Up in Love, “I Don’t Want to Be a Memory,” and “I Can’t Get Close Enough.”
Exile entered the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2013, and toured with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars in their early days.
The band, formerly known as The Exiles, formed in Richmond, but played often in Somerset — where Hargis attended Pulaski County High School, in the 1960s, becoming well known to local fans of the popular music at the time.
“My dad used to run the armory; (the band) used to play over there (and) they’d play at the fairgrounds,” said Wilson. “Every year, they’d play in the rain. People would be out dancing in five inches of red clay mud.
“They were Somerset’s adopted band,” he added.
Tickets are $10, and can be purchased in advance or the day of the show at Somersport Park. You can purchase tickets at Somerset City Hall, SomerSplash Water Park, and at the City of Somerset website (www.cityofsomerset.com). Wilson said he expected between 4,000 and 6,000 people in attendance, as well as vendors and a good time for all in a music-loving community.
“This is not something to compete with the Masters Musicians Festival. We’re just looking for a good way to give the people of Somerset a place to go and recognize one of our own,” said Wilson. “This has turned into quite a musical area. It shows young people that if you chase your dream, it can come true, even here in Somerset, Ky.”