The recent addition of the Entertainment page to our newspaper has been a welcomed section for music lovers in the community. Through this page, we have a glance of upcoming concerts and performances that we might not otherwise see.
I, for one, am a music lover, growing up in church with the four-part harmony and honing my love with the rock music of my era – music that is still popular today.
I can reflect back on the many groups and individual performers that I have seen live over the years, dating back to my first concert at Memorial Auditorium in Lexington in 1977 with one of the very best – Bob Seger. That trend followed with Bad Company, Fleetwood Mac, Greg Allman, The Judds, Chicago, Damn Yankees (with Ted Nugent) and numerous country groups such as Lorrie Morgan, Ronnie Milsap, Exile and Tammy Wynette.
But attending the first rock concert in the newly constructed Riverfront Stadium in 1978 will always be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Eight of us made the trek to Cincinnati that August day, where we braved the throng of fans into the open air stadium. That show kicked off with Eddie Money, who had launched his career with two Top 10 hits, including “Ticket to Paradise.” Then came the Steve Miller Band with their numerous hits.
The small town life that I had experienced became an eye-opening experience at that concert. Our seats were in the lower section, giving us a clear view of the stage – and the floor area where the hot humid August afternoon temperatures drove many to the water sprays set up along the field. We four girls on the trip were amazed – and shocked – when dozens of concert goers drenched themselves under the water to cool off, leaving their clothing hugging their bodies and exposing every curve and bulge. I often wondered if that was the precipitator of the “wet T-shirt” contests that evolved in the years afterward.
As dusk fell on the stadium, The Eagles took the stage, filling the arena with their music. Joe Walsh, who had just made his debut solo with “Life’s Been Good to Me (So Far),” was an added bonus to our experience. Despite a sold-out concert and periodic cheers from the thousands present, the Eagles wooed the crowd with their music and I remember thinking it seemed the whole world was enclosed in that arena, with the only distraction being one of the Cincinnati TV station’s helicopters hovering over the stadium to film part of the concert.
Seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd came years afterward, although I won tickets to their performance in Knoxville in May 1977. I identified 10 songs played over Knoxville radio station WOKI more than once a day for the tickets. But my radio tore up and I didn’t hear my name broadcast as one of the winners, only learning of my win on the night of the concert when I ran into some college friends while in Corbin. The concert had been rescheduled from a late April date until late June and my tickets had been sent to my college post office box – arriving during summer break. I eventually got the T-shirt, tickets and cassette tape (yeah, in those days), but that October the lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, and band members Steve and Cassie Gaines were killed in a plane crash. It was over 20 years later before another college roommate and I went to see the revived group with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnnie taking the lead on his brother’s vocals at Rupp Arena in 2009.
Local events have increased the “live in concert” list with Brett Michael, various tribute bands, Waylon Jennings’ grandsons, Blue Highway, Glenn Miller Orchestra, to highlight a few. This week I am excited about the Georgia Satellites at the Laurel County Fair, just as I was for last year’s Little Texas concert. It’s a nominal price to pay to see those who had a role in my musical history.
Throw in the newspaper’s newly launched “Summer Music Series” featuring local artists and this promises to be a season of serenades from July through September for anyone with any musical interests.
The music is alive in London and Laurel County. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy some of it.