Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Thanksgiving day we were at my brother's house, and we started talking about all the concerts we have been to over the years... the first one, our favorites. It was fun hearing about all of those memorable shows.
The first concert I can recall going to was Buddy Rich and his Big Band, playing at (of all places) Cabool, Missouri High School. I'm pretty sure it was in the winter of 1972-73; my first year of junior high band. It was actually a pretty big deal to be able to see such a huge name performer so close to home, in rural southern Missouri. From what I can remember of it, it was an excellent concert. The band was the best of the best in the contemporary jazz world, and Buddy, of course, just brought the house down with his drumming. I'm glad that I got the opportunity to hear him play live, but honestly, as a drummer, he was on another planet. Jazz and swing is great, but Rock 'n Roll was the music that I wanted to be a part of!
Living in West Plains, Missouri, we didn't get very many chances to see touring bands. You had to travel at least 100 miles, to Springfield, or Little Rock, Memphis, Kansas City or St. Louis. That just didn't come along very often. But I got my first chance in the summer of 1974, when I was 15 years old. In early June of that year they started showing ads on the Springfield TV stations for the Winter Holiday Jam, with headliners Rick Derringer and the Edgar Winter Group. I was a fan of Edgar Winter, and had their latest album They Only Come Out At Night, and Rick Derringer's All American Boy, so I was excited to know they would be playing in Southwest Missouri! I felt like the time was right to ask Mom & Dad if I could go. They said yes.
My good friend Greg Lowe asked his grandparents, who lived in Springfield, to get tickets for us. I can just imagine Greg's grandma Lipscomb walking into Kaleidoscope (back then it was a record store and head shop) and asking for two tickets to the big rock & roll show coming to town.
When the day arrived, July 6th, Dad drove Greg and I up to Springfield. He dropped us off at the entrance to the fairgrounds, with a stern warning, I'm sure, to behave ourselves, and instructions on where and when to meet him, once the show was over. The concert was held at the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway, on the north side of the city. Walking through those gates, wading through the crowds of young people everywhere and seeing that huge stage for the first time was an awesome experience. The sights and sounds (and aromas) of that day will always be fondly remembered. The show began with a local R&B/funk horn band called Granny's Bathwater, followed by the band Poco. Poco put on a good, rousing performance. The band included bass player Timothy B. Schmit, who would go on to join the Eagles a few year later. I remember their closing number... the pedal steel player, Rusty Young, had his pedal steel down on its side at the edge of this 20 foot high stage, just playing the fool out of it. It sounded like a distorted, crazy slide guitar solo. It was good. Then Came the headliner, The Edgar Winter Group. They opened the show with Free Ride, and went from there playing most of the tunes off of their last two albums, including Frankenstein... Edgar yelled to the audience "are you ready for the monster?!" In the middle of the show, Rick Derringer did about 30 minutes worth of material from his various albums, also. It was a very good "first" concert, and quite an eye-opening experience.
In the two photos above, I've got my ticket stub from the concert... and the print copy is from the December 6th, 1973 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, announcing the kick-off of the Edgar Winter Group's tour in support of the album They Only Come Out At Night.