Due in part to aggravations, irritations, frustrations, etc., I had a big kink in my attitude. I decided that it was time for me to move on. After a very frustrating day during an outdoor festival in Corsicana Texas, I grabbed my thangs and hit the bricks, hitchhiking my way back to Austin. I was home just before dark.
I cleaned myself up a bit, jumped in my pickup, and headed for the Armadillo Beer Garden for some cold Lone Star Beer and delicious nachos, looking forward to some time off.
I sat in the beer garden trying real hard to make myself feel bad about the decision I had made just a few hours ago, and it just didn’t happen. I thought about Willie’s Fourth of July picnic that was just a few days away. With all the work involved in the production, there just isn’t any room for a bad attitude and mine had gone way south, I had made the right decision.
I had learned so much working for Jerry, at Lone Star Sound, and touring with Willie had given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the music bid’ness, plus I had learned how to drive a semi. I was very confident that I could find more work in the bid’ness.
A few weeks later I went to see a band from England called Trapeze, playing at the Armadillo. I had seen them in concert, opening up for The Moody Blues, a couple of years earlier, and was impressed with their music and performance.
After the show, I saw a very familiar face pulling cables, so I went over to speak with him. It was Howard Kells, the owner of Concert Lighting, who did the lighting on the Willie tour. Willie had gone on vacation after the picnic, so Howard picked up the Texas shows that Trapeze was doing on their tour of the states.
Howard asked me what I was doing these days; I told him I was loafing, and he asked me if I wanted to work for Concert Lighting. I said sure, and he hired me on the spot. An opportunity to learn a different aspect of show production, and I was ready for the challenge.
After we had finished the load-out, I dropped my truck at the house, grabbed some clothes and was back on the road again. Five shows, Corpus Christi, Odessa, San Antonio, Houston then Arlington Tx.(Dallas)
While driving to the next gig, Howard said he had the contract for Pure Prairie League’s upcoming tour in a couple of weeks, and I would need to come down to Houston and work in the shop a few days to set up the lighting design for the tour. I told him no problem, as that would allow me to become familiar with the tasks involved in setting up the light system. I had a basic understanding working with them on the Willie tour, but not the details.
Dallas was the last show of the Trapeze gig, Howard and Jack went back to Houston, and I rode back to Austin with the fellas from American Concert Sound. They had handled the sound for Trapeze and were based in Austin, just a few blocks west of The University of Texas. On the drive back to Austin I got to know the guys a little better, and Bill Stephens, one of the owners, mentioned that they always had work and when I was home to come by and work.
I spent the next week getting thangs in order. My pick-up needed an inspection sticker, paid the rent on my room for a couple of months, caught the weekend’s shows at the Armadillo, ate plenty of Tex-Mex at Matt’s “El Rancho,” and Chicken Fried Steak at Scholtz’s Garten.
I learned when you go out on the road; your favorite foods will be hard to find and definitely won’t taste the same, so it is always good to make the rounds to your favorite places, and that is what I did.
Come Monday, I had a head full of good music (Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen), a belly full of good food, a new inspection sticker for my truck, and I was driving to Houston.
Concert Lighting shared a large building with Houston Stage, so there was a large area to set up the lighting system The crew consisted of Howard. (The Boss), Andy Fields, from England, Jack McCormick, and I
We finished the work in a few days, loaded the truck, and I was off to Chillicothe Ohio to pick up band gear.
The tour was pretty intense. A lot of shows back to back. It was late summer, and once fall came around, many of the shows were on College campuses.
When you do a show on a college campus, there is always a bunch of enthusiastic college students to work as stagehands, to unload the truck, and assemble the sound and lights set up.
Driving in New England in the fall is quite a site to behold. Autumn was ablaze with color. Traveling through such beautiful countryside, I find myself in a reflective state of mind, with thoughts of thanks,and humbleness, for the many blessings that have accompanied the experiences in my life, good, or not so good, happy or sad, and luckily, I was able to maintain a balance.
Speaking of changes, working in the music bid’ness, having the opportunity to see the country, drive a big rig, and getting paid for it, has been one of the most significant changes, right up there with my marriage to Lisa, and the loss of my Mother, Marie.
Next segment will feature a show with Pure Prairie League opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Capitol Center and a very unexpected meeting with Ronnie Van Zant, Dec. 20, 1976.