Derek Spence of Fredericksburg is a George Strait look-alike and sound-alike, but the 45-year-old musician knows there is only one Strait.

      “Nobody can be George Strait,” Spence said by phone Thursday.

      Spence and the band Southern County Line will perform a George Strait tribute New Year’s Eve in Brownwood. The venue will be a fundraiser for CASA in the Heart of Texas at the Brownwood Fairgrounds Home Economics Building.

      Doors open at 7 p.m., and dinner is included.

      CASA will also honor 35th District Judge Steve Ellis, who helped form CASA in the Heart of Texas in 1999. Ellis has said he is serving his last term as judge.

      Spence, a longtime Strait fan, said he realized he had the Strait sound, look and mannerisms when he was in his late teens, and he was once mistaken for Strait as he prepared to buy a ticket for a Strait concert in Nacogdoches.

       Spence said the tribute show he performs is intended to honor Strait’s legacy. “We try to do a respectful show,” Spence said. “Our goal is not to do anything that would make him unproud or dishonor him in anyway.”

       Spence and the band will perform about 30 Strait songs at the CASA fundraiser, most of them from the 1980s and ’90s. The Strait songs make “some of the best dance music,” Spence said. “I’m a Texan. I know what people like. It’s going to be fun for everybody.”

       Spence said he’s never met Strait and Strait has never seen his show. But he said he’s heard that Strait is familiar with his act and approves.

       Spence said he never gets tired of performing the Strait songs. “It’s fresh and new and fun every time,” he said.

       Spence said he has four children, and he is pleased to be part of the fundraiser for CASA.

      Spence, a native of Nacogdoches, said he has been in Brownwood but doesn’t believe he has ever performed here.

      Spence earned a degree in performing arts production from South Plains College in 1993, according to his website.  He has performed everywhere from Fiesta Texas to the Grand Ole Opry.  During the time he spent at the Grand Ole Opry, Spence shared the stage with performers including Shania Twain, Diamond Rio, Kenny Rogers, Trisha Yearwood and Restless Heart. 

       While Spence was in Nashville, two major record labels turned him down, saying he looks “too much like George Strait.”

 
      His music experience has included bandleader, vocal instructor, lead guitarist, vocalist, producer and director.  He has performed at all types of events, from rodeos to college football games.  

      For ticket information for the New Year’s Eve fundraiser, call 325-643-2557.

      Tickets are $50 a person.

      TexasBank is a $2,500 sponsor of the fundraiser, and Landmark Life, Kohler, Big Country Ford and Citizens National Bank are $1,000 sponsors, CASA recruiter/trainer Joanne McCraw said.

       Several have reserved tables for $600, and there are still opportunities for the $1,000 sponsorships and tables, McCraw said.

      The event is BYOB, although glass bottles are not allowed.