Fans of Marshal Andy’s Riders of the Silver Screen program on WETP may have noticed that broadcasts of the show have been spotty for the last few months. There’s been good reason for it—Knoxville’s greatest singing cowboy, Andy Smalls, has been sidelined for most of the last year by two surgeries to remove non-malignant tumors from his spine. He’s managed to tape a few new episodes of the long-running show, but most have been reruns.
The trouble started in December when Smalls, 81, began to feel numbness in his legs. By January, he was almost completely paralyzed from the waist down. During a surgery that month to remove one tumor, doctors discovered a second. After months of rehabilitation, a second surgery was performed this summer. Andy’s just now getting back on his feet, and local Western Swing revival combo the Sisters of the Silver Sage are hosting a concert in Bearden later this month to celebrate his return.
“His mind is as sharp as a tack, and his voice is still great. It’s just that his legs don’t work,” says Rhonda Whiting of the Sisters of the Silver Sage.
The set will be mostly old country and cowboy songs performed by the Sisters, but Andy is expected to sing at least a couple of songs. It will be his first live performance since the surgeries. The show will be held at the Bearden Banquet Hall at 5806 Kingston Pike on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 p.m. A catered lunch will be served at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.