Friday, Aug 15 2014 11:04 AM

Huck does Buck? Stay tuned for politician's local gig

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Like a kid in a candy store, amateur musician and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was all smiles as he was given a personal tour of Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in 2010. Huckabee revisits the Crystal Palace — this time as a performer — on Aug. 19.

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BY ROBERT PRICE Californian executive editor rprice@bakersfield.com

Go back far enough in the annals of American culture and you'll find instances where politics crossed paths with country music.

Louisiana Gov. Jimmie Davis (1944-1948 and 1960-1964) is perhaps most famous. In 1939 he recorded the enduring "You Are My Sunshine" and in later years played and politicked alongside Bakersfield TV host Jimmy Thomason.

Texas Gov. Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel (1939-41) founded the Light Crust Doughboys, the band that made Bob Wills famous, and he was fictionalized (but placed in Mississippi) in the 2000 film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

More recently, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich surprised an audience in 2007 with a rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford's country classic "Sixteen Tons."

Though rare, singing politicians are still among us, and one is coming to a most hallowed local country-music institution: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will sing at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace on Tuesday for a Shannon Grove fundraiser.

Based on YouTube evidence, Huckabee -- a former presidential aspirant who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses -- isn't bad.

He performed a Christmas parody song, "The 12 Days of Obamacare," on his Fox News program last year. He also played in the "orchestra" at the 2012 Ames (Iowa) Straw poll for Herman Cain's rendition of the gospel tune "Hold On Just a Little While Longer." Huckabee, who played guitar in Cain's band, was much in demand that week, performing separately with Republican luminaries Rep. Thad McCotter of Michigan, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

Perhaps Tuesday's performance in Bakersfield is a warmup for another tour of the Iowa caucuses?

If so, he could be headlining his own band this time -- speculation is that he might be a candidate in 2016.

But Grove, in an announcement to supporters, is playing down the politics and playing up the entertainment. The former governor will "share his wit and wisdom with my supporters -- and some of his music too," wrote Grove, adding that Huckabee gave her one condition for performing:

"'If I come to Bakersfield, I've got to play Buck Owens' Crystal Palace.'"

The event runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets aren't cheap, topping out at $8,200 (for 10 dinner tickets, five photographs, and preferred seating) to $99 -- the value price -- for individual seniors or students.

No word on what Huckabee might sing. (Through a representative, he declined an interview request.)

If he plans on dusting off a playlist that Crystal Palace fans will find familiar, however, he has big boots to fill.

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