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Traveling minstrels perform at Hillsboro Senior Center

It’s just another day for volunteer performers

Staff writer

Hillsboro Senior Center is hardly a typical venue for traveling musicians, but for volunteer performers Jean and Arnie Boyd it’s just another day.

They try to make the trip from Chapman every six months. Monday’s 12:30 p.m. program will mark their third visit to the senior center, with the first on Valentine’s Day 2017, and the other St. Patrick’s Day 2018.

The senior center serves 50 people most days, so center director Brenda Moss expects a good crowd.

Having the Boyds play is good for the seniors because it only happens twice a year, Moss said.

“It’s a fresh program they don’t see all the time,” she said. “They enjoy that.”

The Boyds, who are retired and in their mid-60s, have been traveling the circuit for five years.

Jean and Arnie perform a mix of secular and Christian music, looking for songs they see as inspirational, Jean said.

“Most of our parents’ generation is very welcoming and appreciative of the songs we pick,” she said.

While Jean plays piano and Arnie plays guitar, neither brings their instruments on the road. Instead, they sing along with performance tracks played over speakers.

The couple arrives early to set up, and likes to take extra time to socialize with the audience.

Arnie’s favorite memory was of a man and son at one of their performances. When the Boyds started playing “God be With You ‘Till We Meet Again,” the pair of audience members embraced and the father began crying, Arnie said.

“It wasn’t a sad crying, it was just a good memory, a really touching sign,” he said. “That’s how we know we’re there for the right reason.”

Jean and Arnie enjoy spending time at senior centers because they see seniors as a demographic that is underappreciated.

“There aren’t that many people who want to spend time with these folks,” Arnie said. “We like getting out there and letting them know they’re not forgotten, they’re not by themselves.”

Not all Boyds’ performances are at senior centers. Last Christmas, they had the opportunity to play for a different demographic, performing at Tabor College for the Lifelong Learning program.

One of the couple’s impromptu shows came in August of 2017 when the couple was in Diller, Nebraska.

Jean and Arnie were there for the solar eclipse Aug. 21, and were asked to play at the community center.

The Boyds make regular stops at 20 locations around the state, playing shows between half an hour and 45 minutes.

Their hope is to play the circuit five more years at least, but they aren’t getting younger, Jean said.

“That’s why we’re hitting it kind of hard,” she said. “You don’t know much time you have.”

Last modified Dec. 13, 2018

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