Temecula Live! brings the Grand Ole Opry to town

Published on March 24th, 2021

By Jim Dail

For most country music fans, the Grand Ole Opry remains an icon, but it is a bit of a distance from Temecula. Of course, fans can listen to the WSM broadcast on Sirrius/Xm, but that’s not exactly the live experience.

However, local country music fans can experience an Opry-style show close to home, Temecula Live!

Founded by Gwyn Sanborn and Sandi Capel, the show features local talent, a house band (The Ranch Rockets) and benefits the Oak Grove Center in Murrieta.

The show is the brainchild of Sanborn, who became a huge fan of country music in the ‘90s, listening to Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire, and began to make a name for herself as a singer in Texas.

“I was living in Texas and sang on Opry-style shows on Saturday night,” said Sanborn. “We had guest singers and real variety and it was a really good show.”

When she moved to California, the drive was still there, as was an invitation to join The Ranch Rockets.

“I joined The Ranch Rockets, but when I got pregnant with my third baby, I didn’t know if I’d be able to continue the band,” she said. “We were able to keep it going, but by the time I was pregnant with my fourth baby we’d ended the band.”

As luck would have it, a day at the gym changed everything.

“Sandi and I were walking on a treadmill at the gym and we talked about how we missed the band and I started to tell her about the Opry show I used to do in Texas,” she said.

That launched Temecula Live!

“After we got it going the theater asked us if we wanted to do a show every week,” she said. “That was great because I’d looked at the Merc already as a weekly show and now it’s been going for three years.”

Temecula Live! is a true mixture of music and talent.

“We cover the gamut, from ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Walking After Midnight’ to whatever is current,” she said. “We’ve added bluegrass to it, and probably our most noted talent was The Brewer Boys, who were kind of regular for us. I actually used to teach them years ago. Now, they’ve added a cool element to the country scene and take well know songs and kind of add a different flair.”

What Sanborn seems very proud about is the opportunity for talented people to have a chance with a  band in front of an audience.

“It’s an opportunity for performers to perform with a band because it’s hard to keep a  band together and keep them working,” she said “What we provide is an opportunity to get out and play with a band. The only thing we ask is that they bring people to the show. You don’t have to hire the band, but in exchange for us learning the songs, we ask you to sell some tickets to the show.”

The show itself begins with auditions.

“You go through he audition in front of a judges from the community,” she said. “And it works with country music because it’s a very broad genre, even though plenty of people have always tried to label the music not realizing how wide-ranging it is. So there isn’t one style that is selected over others”

She is pleased that over the last few decades there has been a shift of people enjoying country.

“Nowadays, it’s getting easier,” she said. “Now people can sing to country music. I think people used to associate the music with Hank Williams Sr’s twang. Since Garth Brooks started, it has been easier to get involved. Look at American Idol with Carrie Underwood. Having those types of artists have brought  it more mainstream.”

She’s also aware that to keep it going takes hard work, just as trying to make it in the music business is a great deal of effort.

“There are very good and talented musicians here and some who are capable of going out and joining people, but that’s the nature of the game,” she said. “This is a big opportunity for people who are local and don’t want to try to have a big career that involves always on the road and always trying to make it big”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a great deal of labor with Temecula Live!

“If we aren’t out there hawking tickets and letting people know about what we do, then we won’t last long,” she said.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s now a songwriting part of Temecula Live!

“We added the songwriter’s showcase in the last few years, and we’ve developed and groomed some songwriters,” she said. “For me this is just the perfect place for country music.”


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