was housed in the Main Street Music building at 102 East Main Street,
Greenfield, IN. Their specialty was bluegrass & country shows,
from the smallest to the largest. P.A. worked in CO, CT, and most
every state in between. 1978 and '79 were the "big"
Bluegrass Festival of
the United States, Louisville, KY. It was held on the public
plaza atop the Gault House Hotel's sizable parking garage.
Attendance was estimated to be over twenty thousand people at any one
time, and well over one-hundred thousand during the course of the three
day event. All the guys looked forward to this one. The
first year P.A. did the BFotUS, Saturday night was closed out by Norman
Blake on violin, and his wife Nancy on cello. Now, over twenty
years later, it still ranks as the most amazing set of music I have ever
(The sort-of-line array pictured above worked quite
well. The boss thought it looked cool - he didn't know he was a
This early morning photo
shows that although it is likely the most famous of bluegrass festivals,
the late Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival differs from most
others only in the number of name artists who perform there.
See the Bean Blossom story at the bottom of this page. And they
say that rock'n'roll fans are derelicts. Sheesh.
The annual WIRE Picnic
country music festival was another of P.A.'s regular shows. The
picnic was the site of my "15 minutes of fame" (45 really),
when I mixed FOH for Eddie Rabbit (the "Every which way but
loose" guy) because his engineer decided that it was going to be
too much trouble to fight his way through the throng to get to the
console and back.
P.A. did this show in
partnership with another local firm (now one of the most successful in
the country), always setting up the night before. One year the
boss disappeared at around sundown. He finally returned, having
driven about 75 miles round trip to go back to the store for the Space
Invaders arcade game. Kids.
P.A.'s festival contracts
called for the promoter to supply two small sets of scaffolding for the
speaker stacks. As most festivals were run on a shoestring budget,
this "scaffolding" was usually two picnic tables.
On a "big ticket" festival, there would be real scaffolding,
but most always without foot plates. So, a couple of the legs
would sink into the ground if there was much rainfall. At one
festival two pair of 55 gallon oil drums were considered to be
Security? The soundguys are it, usually we camped out on the
stage. Have you ever: Tried to fall asleep at 1am to the sound of
an upright bass thumping across a campground from a hill 150 yards
away? Been rousted from a sound sleep at 3am by a drunk blowing
snot rockets off the side of the stage? Had to dodge incoming
Fourth of July bottle rockets? Awakened surrounded by baked
beans? Rolled over in the morning to find that several dozen folks
in lawn chairs were looking at you - well over an hour before show time?
One of the nice things about the Bean Blossom festival was that instead
of the usual overflowing port-o-lets, there was a good old fashioned
outhouse with a pit of near infinite capacity. This outhouse was
divided by a wall down the middle, forming an "eight hole-er"
on each side (if memory serves), with the rows of seats back-to-back
against the central dividing wall. The fiberglass roof let in
plenty of light, making it easy to see if your chosen seat was
clean. There was a downside to this however. The wall that
divided the men's side from the ladies' side did not drop fully into the
pit - it continued only a little below seat level. Boys of
auto-erectile age noticed that the light shone down to the
"water" below, giving those on the gents side a reflected
silhouette view of those areas of a gal's anatomy that even "Daisy
Duke" cutoffs did not reveal. Boys who were too young to be
interested in such things found that throwing a large rock into the pit
from the men's side would splash the "water" upon the
posteriors of the ladies seated on the other side. The resultant
wails of female horror were most always followed by some young fellow(s)
getting a well deserved country style ass whuppin.
The topper may have been a festival in Ronceverte, West Virginia.
It was in a natural bowl, with a very high stage. When we asked
why the stage was surrounded by wire fencing, the promoter said "to keep
the ying-yangs off the stage". Swell. Highlights of the
weekend were a guy who showed up extremely drunk or stoned and dressed
in only a blanket, word of an ear-ectomy the previous night, and a
truckload of empty booze bottles at the front of the stage by the end of