The Rotary Club in our little town of 23,000 puts on a two-day outdoor concert every year. The last two years we have had jazz and blues artists, with headliners like Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy. The Rotary went multi-genre this year. The first night featured country music, while the second leaned toward motown and classic rock. When I was a little kid, I thought John Denver and Glen Campbell were pretty cool, but by high school, country music grated on my nerves like a rusty carrot peeler. Okay, I DID record Waylon Jennings’ theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard and played it over and over, but that was because I was in love with John Schneider. Also I was really impressed with Charlie Daniels, but c’mon, The Devil Went Down to Georgia? That is practically rock. To this day, I am not a big country music fan, but when I saw Rocket Club was in the Friday night lineup, I was very excited.
Before you judge, you need to click and listen. Seriously, just give it sixty seconds. Please.
These guys transcend my prejudiced notions about country and I am a fan. My friend Suzy and I geeked out and went to the merchandise tent where we purchased CD’s, got autographs and met the band. One of the people with them took this picture including about fifty-five percent of the band (Billy Thommes and Joel Sayles not pictured):
Please note I am IN the picture, and am not responsible for cutting off parts of Chris Hawkey and Brian Kroening’s faces. Don Smithmeier and Luke Kramer are intact. This was probably the best we could get, considering tight quarters.
Rocket Club was followed by Rockie Lynne, who rode in on a Harley with an entourage of what looked like 100 motorcycles. One of his people revved her engine as she went by us and knocked a little plaque off my arterial walls, or at least it felt like it. Lynne’s performance was heavily seasoned with appreciation for the folks who are serving and have served in our military, and he did a nice job. The Friday night headliner was Travis Tritt. By the time he took the stage, I was a little weary of the whole down-home thing, but then he rocked my world with an acoustic solo performance of Long Haired Country Boy. I wish I could find a link to good video of a similar performance with the long gorgeous bluegrass intro, but the closest one I could find here on youtube made me nauseous to watch. You can click and then close your eyes if you want. You are warned.
The second night we were entertained by The Butanes, G. B. Leighton, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. We particularly enjoyed CCR, but I had trouble at the end deciding what to watch, the Jumbotron screen or the shenanigans of the group of people who plunked their camp chairs in front of us. Their featured performers were “Green T-Shirt Guy” and “Put Your Shirt Back On Guy.” Green T-Shirt Guy celebrated CCR with a lot of ironic country dancing, occasionally straddling his date’s chair and employing the classic pelvic thrust move–because nothing says “I love you, girl” like punching her in the face with your crotch. Put Your Shirt Back On Guy didn’t have a date, but he didn’t let that get him down, putting a grind on a noticeably older woman nearby who I came to call “Insufficient Brassiere.” She was into it, but her wing-chick, “Uncomfortable Friend,” was not so sure. It was like a three ring circus; I didn’t know where to look.
It was a lot of entertainment for $10, yes, ten dollars whether you watched one act or came to all seven. Attendance easily exceeded the 14,000 I heard were there last year. Judging from the beer cans and pop bottles left on the ground, the Rotary made a few bucks with concessions; we certainly did our share. It was well organized but the word “sausagefest” comes to mind. Why aren’t more, or any, women performing? I’ll have to ask around about that. I don’t like to brag, but I know a few people in the Rotary. If you tell me who you think should perform, I’ll put a word in. What acts would YOU recommend for next year’s festival?