After touring the world with his guitar, a Columbus native is coming home to perform and is hoping some of his friends and former classmates will stop by and visit.

Columbus High School graduate Gene Puckett and his band “The Dropouts” will be playing Friday and Saturday night at the Downstream Casino. They will perform Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Puckett, is the son of Mary Jane and the late John Puckett both of Columbus and the grandson of the late Alta and John Milner and Orville and Thelma Puckett.

The “Dropouts” are a rock and roll band with sound likened to such power pop masters as “Cheap Trick” and “The Babys.”

In addition to the bands solo performances they play back up for the Osmond Brothers in their road show and are expected to work with the Osmonds in Branson later this year.

The “Dropouts” work out of Springfield, the musicians’ individual backgrounds are a collective musical powerhouse with over 100 years of combined performance experience.

In addition to Puckett, the band members include Bryan Lawson, Greg Frazier, Scott Taylor and Steve Mason. All the band members are from the four state area.

“My love for music started at an early age, playing melodies on the piano at just 4 years old,” said Puckett. “I quickly realized I could pick out any tune I wanted and eventually went on to take guitar lessons from Verne Leeper, (a well known Cherokee County musician) I started playing professionally at 15 with my first band “Mirror.”

“We played proms, parties clubs and concerts. We even played my own prom when I was a senior,” continued Puckett. “I was then asked to join one of the most popular bands in Joplin, Mo. called ‘Road Hog.’ The name was changed to ‘Atomic Bob,’ and we played clubs for a couple of years. Just as that band came to an end I was asked to join ‘The Darts’ and did very well playing clubs and opened a few concerts in Joplin.

“I joined ‘Naked Zoo,’ in 1985, which was my most successful band and we were together until 1992. We played all over the country at showcase clubs and opened for several national acts,” continued Puckett. “In addition I started to play (and still do) for the Bilyeu Family at their annual concerts which draw huge audiences of around 3,000 - 4,000,” recalls Puckett. “In 2001, I started playing for  “The Osmond at the Osmond Family Theatre in Branson.

In 2004, I toured England with Merrill Osmond and the “Black Bear Band.

“The following year we toured again throughout Great Britain and Belgium with Merrill and Wayne Osmond. The same year we returned with The Osmonds to perform in the 'Once in a Lifetime Tour' which included the Bay City Rollers, David Essex and David Cassidy. These shows were a huge success and took place in major United Kingdom venues,” said Puckett. “During 2007, we performed two more ‘Once In a Lifetime tours,’ in the United Kingdom, in addition to many shows throughout the USA and Canada with The Osmonds and more recently, Marie Osmond.

“My current band “The Dropouts,” have been together for two years. We play regularly around the Missouri area and successfully opened for ‘STYX’ in March 2007, continued Puckett. “’The Dropouts’ debuted in London, England in February 2007 and returned in July for a second show. We are currently finishing our debut CD which will include our own material, of which I have written some of the tracks