Synchronicity – One can consider an event synchronistic when an inner experience such as a dream, vision or other forms of deja vu, prepares you for the physical event.
As the month of June eases into July, the return of the heat in central Texas can be brutal.The summer of 1973 was no exception. I was living in a friends barn, just outside of Austin, working for a contractor framing houses by day, working on music with my friend Jim and his girlfriend Christi Lou, at night. Jim played six string and twelve string guitar, Christi Lou played the fiddle and sang like a bird, played six string guitar.
The music scene in Austin was just starting to take off. Eddie Wilson and friends had opened Armadillo World Headquarters in the old National Guard Armory building, just south of the river from downtown Austin, in 1970, and was bringing in national acts to perform there on the weekends, and local bands during the week. San Francisco had the Fillmore West, New York had the Fillmore East, and Austin had the Armadillo World Headquarters. Truly a musical oasis.
Willie Nelson had moved to Austin from Nashville in 1972, had played a few concerts at the Armadillo, was well received, and was one of the headliners at an outdoor concert west of Austin in the small town of Dripping Springs. The show was billed as the Dripping Springs Reunion, organized by four dudes from Dallas. They had hoped for a large crowd, but the event was not promoted well and maybe 10,000 folks showed up for the three-day event.
Willie decided to hold another outdoor festival at the same location, the next year on the Fourth of July, 1973 and promoted it as Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic.
Jim, Christi Lou, and I made plans to attend, and did so, leaving Jim’s place early the morning of the Fourth. Jim had a small blue mail truck that we had loaded up with our camping gear, food, ice chests, water, our favorite adult beverages, guitars, and Christi Lou’s fiddle, arriving about 7:30 in the morning.
Traffic was already heavy leading into the concert area, with cars parked on both sides of the road a mile from the site. Jim said, were not parking this far away, and kept on going toward the show site. We found a place to park under some oak trees right across the road from the main entrance, backed under the oak trees and set up camp.
The music was to start around 9 or 9:30 AM. Since we were early, we decided to play a few tunes. We were in the middle of a song, and I began to have this vision that someday I was going to be on stage with Willie. We finished the song, and I sat pondering the vision. After a few minutes, I just shined it on as fancy thinking since I had no desire to be an entertainer. I played guitar for the fun of it.
By noon, the sun was high in the sky and hot. I had been walking around for a couple of hours without a shirt on, was sunburned, and plenty thirsty. I went in search of water and located a series of water fountains that had been set up for us concert goers.
After waiting in line for a while, watching people walk away with weird looks on their faces, I soon found out why. It was artesian water, and the smell of sulfur, so I left.
I was walking toward a growth of oak trees for some relief from the sun and noticed what looked like a backstage pass, laying on the ground. I reached down, picked it up, and sure enough, it was a backstage pass that had not been used, as it still had the peel off paper on the back.
Not knowing if there was a particular spot that the pass should be worn, I moseyed on down the hill toward the backstage entrance. I noticed that many in the backstage area had placed their passes on their left leg, just above the knee, so I pulled off the paper on the back of the pass, put it on my left leg, just above the knee and proceeded to the gate into a whole different world.
As I walked pass security, I noticed that the passes were color-coded, and the one I had found was ACCESS ALL AREAS. I was just beside myself. I saw an old refrigerator lying on its backside with the door off, full of iced down Lone Star Beer, in cans. I reached down deep, grabbed me a can, popped the top, took a big swig to quench my thirst, and as I brought the can down, I noticed a couple of longtime friends, Jackie Smith and his older brother Dewayne, talking to the beautiful Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson. Dewayne is one-half of the Geezinslaw Brothers, known in the music bid’-ness as Son. The Geezinslaw Brothers, Sammy, and Son Geezinslaw were on the list of entertainers scheduled to perform at the picnic.
Needless to say, I was having an out-of-body experience. In the span of a few minutes, I went from being extremely thirsty at the top of the hill, to being backstage, with a cold Lone Star Beer in my hand, seeing a couple of longtime friends talking to Kris and Rita.
The first time I saw Rita’s face on an album cover, I was stunned by her beauty. Whew, there she was right in front of me. In unison, Jackie and Dewayne asked, how in the hell did you get back here? I said you would never believe me if I told you, said I’ll catch you later, and eased on, not wanting to interrupt their conversation with Kris and Rita, more than I already had.
This is just the beginning. There is so much more. See you next time. Michael – AKA “The Happy Texan.” 9/6/2016 10:04 PM