The Ohio Valley Opry (OVO) has been charming audiences at the Twin City Opera House in McConnelsville since 2000. Founded by Marvin Clark and his family, the 7-piece band puts on a show featuring traditional country tunes and old bluegrass favorites. Since then, the show has grown to include piano, steel guitar and an in-house comedian.
“The band includes pretty much everything you can imagine for a country band,” Clark says.
Part variety show, part traditional country show, the Ohio Valley Opry pulls from both local and regional talent to fill out their rotating lineup of performers. Six times a year, they bring in national acts from Nashville. Although they draw talent from throughout the region, the band itself has become a family affair.
“When we started out 15 years ago, my girls were kids. They’ve grown up doing it,” Clark says.
Although they no longer live under one roof, Clark’s daughters are still heavily involved in the band. One of his daughters is married to the OVO’s rhythm guitarist and banjo player. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter now sings in the show.
This intergenerational lineup affects the band’s sound. While Opry music tends to find its fans in older members of the community, the OVO’s members range in age. Clark says the band’s younger musicians often want to shake things up by playing more contemporary music. Clark believes this enthusiasm is crucial in order to keep the band thriving.
“Honestly, [younger members] bring to the table music that the band has to learn and perform that I wouldn’t necessarily choose,” Clark says. “But it keeps the band evolving. New generations bring in new styles. It makes us better players.”
Like Father, Like Son
One of these younger members is Bryant Sigler, the OVO’s bassist who grew up wanting to be in the band.
“My dad started playing when the Ohio Valley Opry began,” Bryant Sigler says. “I grew up around it, and I grew up riding along to shows.”
Clark explains the band was looking for a new bassist in 2007, when Bryant was 17. When Clark asked around, Bryant came up to him and said, “I want that job.”
Music has always been a big part of the Sigler family’s lives. Bryant’s father Gary, a lifelong musician, is the band’s drummer. According to Gary, there is no better feeling than playing music with his family.
“I get to have my son beside me, and I get to work with him,” Gary says. “My daughter also sings on the show. It’s very family-oriented.” The Sigler’s cherish this time together, especially now that Bryant has moved out of the house.
“It gives us an excuse to hang out and rehearse,” Bryant says. “It’s a chance to be around [my dad] and share a hobby.”
A Shared Love for the Music
Gary also explains that the atmosphere of the OVO and the reactions of the audience are what keep him playing.
“I’ve been a musician my whole life and got burnt out on the scene,” Gary says. “But this is a much more satisfying experience. The people in my band are my best friends. Everyone plays because they want to.”
Clark agrees. “We have as much fun playing the shows as the audience does listening to it,” he explains. “There are no egos on the stage. If something crops up, you recognize it, realize you’re brothers, and get it snuffed out. It’s good. It really is like a family.”
This closeness is evident even from interactions with the audience. During the show, as each vocalist finishes their performance and leaves the stage, the Clark’s–like proud parents–lead the audience in another round of applause and congratulate each performer on a job well done. Although many of the vocalists are members of the Clark family, the local Marietta performers receive the same warm send-off.
Southeast Ohio Charm
Part of the show’s charm comes from its authenticity. While the performances are perfected, the on-stage interactions come off as unpracticed and genuine. Marvin and Deena Clark’s stage banter and introductions of the vocalists sound like conversations between friends. They interact with the audience as well. They once staged an impromptu presidential primary, counting applause as votes.
This approach showcases the sense of community evident not only in this corner of the state, but within the band, as well. Although the band was on stage, wowing audiences with their performance, they still came across like your neighbors. During intermission, the band immediately came out into the audience and greeted fans.
Although the band has enjoyed a lot of regional success, Clark said if they had to stop playing, he would still be content with their run.
“If it folded tomorrow, I’d still have friends that will last a lifetime,” Clark says. “But I can’t see it.”