The Bradley Inn in New Harbor will host a tribute to Rusty Rogers, “The Pemaquid Cowboy,” with live music Saturday, June 16. The event will start at 6:30 p.m.
Rusty Rogers was the stage name of Russell Kempton, a longtime Pemaquid resident. After receiving his first guitar at the age of 7, Rusty went on to make a name for himself in the country western music scene. He was the lead singer and featured yodeler with the Down Homers and starred in “The Rusty Rogers Show” on NBC from 1956-1958. In a career spanning more than seven decades, Kempton was inducted into the Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island country music halls of fame.
Russell Kempton and his wife, Patty Kempton, were regulars at The Bradley Inn, just a short distance from the couple’s home in Pemaquid. Every Friday, the couple would sit at the same spot at the end of the bar for a meal, Patty Kempton said.
After Russell Kempton passed away Aug. 9, 2013, Patty Kempton continued the Friday tradition. When Tony and Laura Moskwa took over the ownership of the inn in 2017, Patty Kempton was one of the first people the couple met.
“As soon as we started, she introduced herself,” Tony Moskwa said.
“And now they’re like family to me,” Patty Kempton said.
Patty Kempton regularly shares memories of her husband with the Moskwas, speaking about him “in a way that very few people talk about their spouses,” Laura Moskwa said. With his 95th birthday and the fifth anniversary of Kempton’s death taking place in the same year, the Moskwas decided to host a tribute in his honor.
The location has a special meaning to Patty Kempton, as Russell Kempton made one of his last recordings, “Live from the Bradley Inn,” in the building.
“During the recording, there was not a seat to be found,” Patty Kempton said. “People were three deep at the bar. It was the place to be.”
Ronnie Chase, Russell Kempton’s longtime producer, will sing and play piano at the June 16 event. Local singer Kathi Nordone will also perform, and surprise performers are expected, Patty Kempton said.
A pub menu featuring some of Russell Kempton’s favorites, like “cowboy caviar,” will be served as well.
All are welcome and there is no cover charge.
For more information about the event, find The Bradley Inn on Facebook.