Funfest

10/21/2009

For the first 20 years or so of Kingsport’s Funfest celebration, I remember being on stage, introducing bands. In the early years, the “stage” was nothing more than a flatbed trailer. I introduced Knoxville’s Con Hunley as the featured act on one of those first concerts. They’ve come a long way, and I met some great artists over the years since the festival’s beginning in 1980. One of the more memorable performers was Willie Nelson. One of the most “down home” superstars I have ever met, Willie put on a great concert. Too good in fact. At the time (and probably even now) Kingsport had a 10PM noise curfew ordinance. Willie was still going strong at 10:30 when a city official came up to me and said I needed to get him to stop. My reaction? Like I was going to go tell Willie Nelson to shut up, shut down and wrap up his show! When Willie plays, he plays till he wants to quit…he played three hours that night, till about 11PM! Another year, the stations sponsored Bachman Turner Overdrive. Randy Bachman was not with them, but Robbie Bachman was. Steve Mann was with me on stage. At the end of all these shows, the MC’s would go up afterward and thank everyone for coming, and thank the sponsors. Well, at the end of the BTO show, Steve & I headed to the front microphones. I reached out to shake Robbie Bachman’s hand…and tell him it was a good show. He grabbed my arm, hard….got in my ear and said “get the #*!% off my stage!” I was so taken aback that all I could say was “what?” and he repeated his demand. I guess he did not appreciate sharing “his stage” with lowly local radio guys. I kind of moved toward the back of the stage, when just then Steve, who knew nothing about what had transpired did a quick end-around, made it to the microphone, and thanked the crowd and sponsors! Thanks for backing me up buddy, and “back to you Steve!”