Roadhouse News - May 2014
Remembering Rod Kennedy. Forty-three years ago Rod Kennedy hosted the first Kerrville Folk Festival and the event has done nothing but grown. I was a main stage artist in 2002 and these are my impressions at the time. RIP Rod.
KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL - Kerrville, Texas - May 25, 2002 Main Stage 9pm
There were several events that stand out in my mind from the “old days”. I remember the TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL. I was the West Texas representative. This job consisted of picking up a few cases of the festival posters of which I loaded into the back of my ’54 Cadillac hearse. The posters were housed at the only head shop in Denton, Texas. This shop was located right across the street from the college and just around the corner from the Mobil station where I parked my car during class. I can still smell the aroma of the vast amount of incense smoke and see the glow of the posters brought to life by the black lights. My parking place was vacant most days. Looking back, I actually regret this regular vacancy. You see if I would have used my parking place more frequently, I could possibly be working some different job. You know, something that would require a college degree. On the other hand, if I had a college diploma it would probably be hanging in the water closet at my office. That is where Richard Chorne hung his. Who knows! Who cares? Excuse me I’m carried away. I loaded these posters in the back of the hearse and headed home for the summer.
There were also bumper stickers advertising the festival and of course I had a few cases of them as well. I also had one of the stickers on the back of the hearse. I need to tell you that my Dad had a rule. Never, ever, put a bumper sticker on your car. As most of you know, I am from very small town. My Dad was in business and one of his rules was to never place that bumper sticker on your bumper. Why? First of all, the only bumper stickers you saw in those days were the ones advertising some political election. Still asking why? Poker man! Never reveal whom you are pulling for to win. You could lose some business. You could offend someone. Things have changed since the old days haven’t they.
Anyway, I walked out to the hearse that was parked at my Dad’s dealership and noticed that my bumper sticker was gone. Removed! I looked around to see who was looking at me, and sure enough, as usual Dewitt Bender was poking his head around the corner of the wash rack looking at me. I stomped over to him and asked him if he had done it. No, it was not he. I knew it was not Dee and furthermore I knew exactly who had done it.
I found the guilty one sitting in his favorite chair on the showroom floor over in the northeast corner by the humongous jade plant. His leg was crossed like old men do it and he pretended to be reading. I was pissed! I was nineteen years old. I weighed in at about 105 pounds. I had this strut in my walk. I had my shoulders back and my chest out. I was all flexed up and I was headed his way. If I wanted a bumper sticker on my car then I should have a bumper sticker on my car. It was my car, was it not? Well sort of, well not exactly. He had actually bought it. By the time I reached him I had instantly cooled off. Daddy just looked up at me before I could say a word and he grinned real big and said, “you know my rules”. God he was fast. But being his son, I fired right back at him and asked, which window do you want your poster?
I scotch taped one by the entrance door and one by the door that separated the showroom from the shop. They stayed there until the festival was over. I’ll bet the farm that my dad’s Chevy dealership was the only Chevy dealership to advertise the TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL! I put one in the window of Herb Gunn’s barbershop. Looking back, the barbershop was actually a major accomplishment. I had not had a hair cut in over a year. But if I decided to get one, Herb Gunn knew he would get my business.
There is no stopping place with this beginning. At this point my daughter Clare would probably say, “and the point is?” But as I said in the beginning of this story, there are a few events that stand out in my mind. Another one of those events is this one, THE KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL.
The point “is” it was about thirty years ago that I first heard of the KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL. And approximately twenty-nine years ago one of my goals was to be invited to play the Kerrville Folk Festival.
One night back in the fall of 2001, Rod Kennedy, founder of the festival, along with Dalis and Vaughn were at Waring Steak Nite having dinner and listening to music. As most Wednesdays go I was there and played with DIME ‘A DOZEN. I later sat down at the table with the original KERRVERT and as they say, the rest is… History? Probably not. Monumental for me? Most definitely!
Yes, I was finally invited to perform the KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL. It was just in the nick of time. This year, 2002, happens to be the last year that Rod Kennedy was to spear head the festival before retiring. I use the word retirement loosely. I cannot imagine it.
Now finally for those of you who were not present to catch the performance, I will break it down for you: Yes, I did play the festival on Saturday, May 25, 2002. I asked “The Dime” to back me up. So I had Greg Forest on guitar, Cindy Terry doing back up vocals and Ronnie Leatherman on bass. In addition I made a telephone call to one of the drummers that was with me back in the “old days”, Jeff Colvin. Mark Stevens from San Antonio played lap steel and dobro and Jane Clark on fiddle from London England. I found it only appropriate that I invite, or should I say, con Lee Roy Parnell into covering the rest of the guitar work. And lo and behold he showed up at the airport about 5:30 that Saturday afternoon and just rounded out my little combo perfectly.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much this show meant to me. Twenty years ago I would have thought that I needed to be in perfect form and probably would have over rehearsed for this event. As it turns out this line up of musicians and friends was a musical highlight for me. It was loose at times. We stumped our toe a few times. But each time we managed to get back on the shiny part in record time. Bottom line? We certainly had our moments and a few times I do not believe I could have stood it if it would have been any better. It was exactly what I wanted. Loose but tight. The best part was the fact that we were not over rehearsed and that everyone played what they felt. And to me, well, every one was feeling really good!
I thank each of these fine musicians for helping me with this show. I also thank the entire stall of the festival for making me feel such an important part of the event that marked Mr. Kennedy’s retirement. I just made it under the wire. It would not have been the same without seeing him perched on his chair at stage right with a smile on his face throughout my entire set. Approaching the end I glanced over at him consciously for a signal on time, but subconsciously it was for his sign of approval. He held up two fingers. Thirty years ago this would have had a different meaning. But this night I was sure it meant two more songs… God I hope he didn’t mean two more minutes.
Can you imagine what the first Kerrville Folk Festival was like?
Patience is a virtue…that I did not know I possessed.
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