Gig at the Park
The City Park decided to revive their tradition of local entertainment. Before T.V. got so big, and long before the days of the Internet, all we had was the radio, the local movie house, and the Park as our sources of entertainment. I remember when Dolly Parton came through and stood on a short stack of Co-Cola crates to sing into the mic. We had groups like the Tams and the Shakers, and Jimmy Dean sung one called “Big Bad John.”
So, when they contacted us start up the shows again, we were enthusiastic in spite of the fact the place still has a faint odor of musty sweat socks and gym shorts. We are old gym rats anyway, so we didn’t care. Besides, how often do you get to warm in old rasslin’ star Haystack Calhoun’s dressing room? And it ain’t every day you get to grace the stage of an early Billy Graham crusade. We were honored.
Even though the Warbler (our lead singer) is just a young’un, he is a history major, and he understood the significance. It put him in the mind of old school, so we did a number of standards mixed in with some of our original material. He got on a Larry Sparks kick and we did a few we had not rehearsed like “Blue Virgina Blue” and “John Deere Tractor.” We did “Richmond” right off the top of our heads, and I threw in some trick mandolin licks I’d picked up from my teacher Ben. The boys took notice and Moose told the audience I’d been back to school. In music, like doctoring, you have to if you want to stay current.
We only got tangled up once. Warb told the crowd we were gonna do “Memphis” and I didn’t hear him. I turned and asked him what we were gonna do next, and he said, “Poet With Wings.” Then he told the crowd we were gonna do a Tom T. Hall number. I was confused ’cause Pete Goble wrote “Poet.” Anyway, I kicked it off and the boys expected “Memphis,” but they fell right in and no one knew the difference. You gotta think on your feet in bluegrass.
All in all, it was a fine gig, and at four bucks a ticket we drew quite a crowd. You get what you pay for. The Park only lost eighty-seven bucks, which was good for a first time festival, and they went ahead and booked us for next year. It is good to add a few new ones on the schedule; Doc has to get out and play to be satisfied.
And if history is any guide, maybe someday the kids who came to our show will say, “I remember when we used to have those shows at the Park. Old Doc Bibey was there with Neuse River and…..”