CALHOUN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A Panhandle band is heading back to where they first performed after more than 50 years.

The Villagers got their start performing in Blountstown in the early 1960s.

Lead singer Cliff Ellis is no stranger to big stages.

He has spent the last 50 years coaching college basketball at Auburn, Clemson, and Coastal Carolina.

But he got his start on a much smaller stage, playing to Panhandle crowds with The Villagers, notably starting at the old American Legion hall in Blountstown.

“Anytime we wanted to try out material or do things, we would go to Blountstown and play and the place would be packed,” Ellis said. “It would be absolutely packed.”

So, when Ellis got the call to play a benefit concert to help revitalize downtown Blountstown, he did not hesitate to say yes.

“This, like other opportunities to try to help people, I wanted to make sure that we were a part of and our band wanted to be a part of,” Ellis said.

For five years, The Villagers performed throughout the south, signing a recording contract in the process and playing with legends like Roy Orbison and Etta James.

Their song “Laugh it off” even went #1 in Panama City.

The band will be back in Blountstown for a benefit concert to help save downtown and the historic Commerce Building.

“We’re on the way to giving Blountstown a facelift and that excites me because we are giving back in the panhandle and to a place that I dearly love, Blountstown Florida.”

The band takes the stage at the 20 West Saloon on Saturday night.

Doors open at 6:45.

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