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Philip Dain Powell and band Average Joe to entertain at the annual Christmas party at the WV Veterans Home

Dec. 03, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Thanksgiving may be in the rear view mirror, but no year for Philip Dain Powell is complete without giving thanks to veterans.

For about the past dozen years, Powell has gathered musical brothers to entertain at the annual Christmas party at the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4., Powell, his all-star band Average Joe, and special guests Barton Stevens and Phil Osborne (both playing with Billy Ray Cyrus' band Sly Dog), will be rocking around the Christmas tree.

The concert and celebration for veterans is free and open to the public.

Medal of Honor winner Woody Williams and Vietnam veteran Ron Wroblewski will be guest speakers at the party, which includes gift presentations to the veterans.

Powell, an independent Christian country artist who played the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis earlier this year, said he feels humbled to be able to share his musical gifts with area veterans each year.

"I have been on this journey for 12 or 13 years and it has been a real humbling experience for me to go out there," Powell said. "When I go to do these shows, whether it is out at Camp Atterbury (in Indiana) or at the Veteran's Home or wherever, you hear their stories and you see how grateful they are and how they appreciate you, and what they have given is unsurpassed. Money can't buy it, but they have paid their dues and they have paid our bill of freedom. This is just a small way I can use my gift to give them something."

Powell has been performing at many veterans homes, bases and events since he cut and made a video of the song, "Save Me a Place at the Table," back in 1993 when he was working with Jack McFadden, who signed Billy Ray Cyrus and Keith Whitley.

Since then he has been traveling the country playing the song for dozens of veterans groups from the traveling Vietnam Wall, to Rolling Thunder, the Vietnam Vets ride to Washington, D.C., to state capitols and this year, Camp Atterbury, where a lot of National Guard soldiers train before going overseas.

Interestingly, the song had a rebirth two years ago when Powell put it on his CD "God is Love," which earned him two nominations for songwriter of the year and male vocalist of the year during the Inspirations Country Music Awards in Hendersonville, Tenn., and took the song to No. 1 on the Christian Country charts, put together by Power Source magazine in Nashville.

While Powell would often do the Veterans Home party with late harmonica player Tom Bias, he said he's excited to bring a full band that will rock out some Christmas covers as well as other favorites.

The band Average Joe, includes veteran Sly Dog bassist, Corky Holbrook, who retired from traveling with Cyrus' band. Average Joe also features Keith Lambert, former guitarist and bassist for Ricky Lynn Gregg, Dave Mounts from the legendary Zachariah band, and drummer Jay Frisby, a multi-instrumentalist who has played with Powell for nearly a decade.

Special guests will include well-known Ashland guitarist Phil Osborne, who is the newest member of Cyrus' Sly Dog unit, as well as long-time Sly Dog keyboardist Barton Stevens.

Powell said the event and gift giveaways (which in years past has included everything from pool tables to big screen TVs) couldn't happen without a long list of sponsors, and of course, his wife Tammie Powell, who helps get sponsors each year.

Sponsors this year include: Nelson's Storage, Runyon's One Stop, Pavement Maintenance, Ken Hicks, Tim Eves, Dixon Electric, Sam's Gun and Pawn and Clear Channel.

"Tammy has been so instrumental in making this happen," Powell said. "She does all the hard work behind the scenes and gets all the volunteers. There's a lot of food to pass out and just a lot of these wonderful people that she enlists their help."