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"The Road Show, Part One"

 We were on the road for eight years one time. It was grueling, 
and it was fun.
Somewhere in Colorado: We were playing at a fair. The grandstand was about a hundred years old, with aged, weathered wood and no paint. An hour before show time a small airplane landed in the field beside the stage. The door opened and Hank Thompson got out in his white suit and white hat. We thought that was pretty cool. Hank was the other half of our bill that day.
Misty had six electronic keyboards stacked up in a horseshoe shape around her onstage. Then the rest of our band and all the amps and sound equipment. It took some electricity.
This stuff wouldn't work if the voltage was low, so I had our tech guy build a thing he called a Variac. The Variac told you if you were getting low voltage, and you could just turn it up until you got the volts you wanted.
The fair people had run a long yellow drop cord from the grandstand out to the stage, and it looked pretty thin to me. I saw we were only getting about 98 volts, so I cranked the Variac up to 117, and everything worked. What a great invention!
About three songs into our show our steel player tapped me on the shoulder and pointed down at the yellow wire. Flames were running along it like the fuse to a bomb, along the grass and right up the wooden pillars of the old structure. The fire department came and hosed down the whole show.
Salt Lake City: We were playing a week as Special Guest Stars of Jimmy Dean. The Valley Music Hall was a round theater with a round stage that turned, so that half the audience was always behind our backs. An odd feeling. We'd do our closing number, and then try to find our way off the stage, completely lost. Jimmy made jokes about it. A funny guy.
A local deejay showed us around town. He told us about how the Mormon Tabernacle had built in elevator shafts before they were invented, and how the wide streets were designed before they knew about heavy traffic.
We were sitting with this deejay, a Mormon himself, in a coffeeshop across from the Tabernacle, when I asked him about the statue of the angel with the trumpet, up there on the roof.
He said, "We Mormons believe that on Judgement Day that angel will come to life and blow that horn. But, if he does, he's going to blow pigeon crap all over the Utah Hotel."

Copyright January 26, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.


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