Concerts provide lifetime of memories

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

Did you go to The Clovis Music Festival last weekend? That was some event. Rock ’n’ rollers from another time came to our town to play electric music and boogie.

Folks I talked to said Thursday and Saturday’s performers gave great shows at the Clovis Civic Center. We went to Friday’s show, John Mueller’s Winter Dance Party Tour. Mueller is known as the best Buddy Holly tribute artist in the biz. The show consisted of Mueller, the Big Bopper’s son J. P. Richardson Jr., and Ray Anthony as Richie Valens.

While Mueller’s performance was tight and Richardson paid tribute to his daddy, the crowd was wild for the charismatic Anthony. The Lady of the House whispered, “He’s rather hunky.” Anthony rocked the house. Handling his Stratocaster guitar like a machine gun in combat, he had the crowd on its feet. He said he’d heard the civic center hadn’t been “broken in” yet, and this was the night to do it.

Seeing all those folks standing, clapping and dancing made me flash back to concerts over the years.

My first rock ’n’ roll concert was at a civic center. It was Stephen Stills in 1973. Concert tickets were, check this out, $3 each. Compare that to these days like when the Eagles did one of their reunion tours: $95 for a seat in the “nosebleed” section high in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. Needless to say I didn’t go; I could buy their compact disc box set for less than that.

But then, maybe it wasn’t the ticket price, maybe it’s just the fact I didn’t want to sit out in the hot sun for hours. If you’ve ever been to the Phoenix area in May you’ll understand this. They don’t call it Sun Devil Stadium for nothin’.

Sitting out in the hot sun, well there you go. Another reason why the Clovis Civic Center is a good thing — it gives us a great place to have indoor concerts.

I went to a Waylon Jennings event in Lubbock a few years back. It was in an open field with the sun blazing down on everyone. There was a wee bit of shade by the sound equipment booth in the center of the field; some folks had set up chairs there. I went over to set up my chaise lounge to find every person in the shade was from Clovis. It seemed like New Mexicans know the importance of getting out of the sun.

Now fairground concerts have their place, but they also have their down side. You have to admit we’ve had a show or two canceled by the rain. Even so, our fairground arena beats the heck out of the one in Roswell. I went to a Merle Haggard show there a couple of years ago and sat for hours on ancient wooden boards posing as seats. I must have pulled splinters out of my rear all the way back to Clovis.

Even though it was a small crowd, even though it was put on by some tribute artists, that concert last Friday night at the Clovis Civic Center was one I’ll remember.

So thank you, Ray Anthony, for “breaking in” our Civic Center. I think you did, anyway. And come back again. A lot of folks liked you, especially the ladies.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him