Jamboree in the Hills.
I grew up going to Jamboree in the Hills. It's considered the Super Bowl of country music. When I went, in 1977 (its first year), 1978, and 1979, it was a two day country music festival. It's now a four day festival. I remember this big open field, and a huge stage set up at one end. It was kinda the Woodstock of country music. Everyone would come through the gates running with lawn chairs, coolers, babies, grannies and try to get a spot close to the stage. We got in to the first five rows each time. Then you lathered on the sunscreen, put on your hat, pulled beers and snacks out of the cooler and settled in for the best artists in country music. Country music artists would arrange for their tours to be in the area each July to make an appearance at this festival. Because I was young and cute, my mom would send me backstage to get autographs. Thankfully I got autographs and nobody accosted me. I got to see Johnny & June Carter Cash, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, and other giants of country music. At the time, I wasn't that in to country music. In the 70s, western swing and honky tonkin, boozin, cheatin' songs dominated the genre, and I couldn't relate to any of that.
What I did like was bluegrass music, and that influence coming into the music of up and coming artists. One of the artists who impressed me back in 1977, was Lionel Cartwright. He was a young teenager and playing with the stage band, New Generation Express. I was so impressed that someone so young could have such a demanding job, and he played so many instruments. I watched for him each year after that when we went to the festival.
Well, the years went on. I stopped going to the festival and grew up. I sometimes wondered what happened to that Cartwright kid, when in 1989, he had a song on the country charts and happened to be on tour in Texas, and came to the town where I was living at the time. I went to see him in concert. This was a big deal for me because I had a new baby at home, I didn't have much money, and to pay for a sitter and go to a concert was not something I ever did. The night of the concert was planned down to the minute. I had to be home by eleven, when the sitter had to leave. The concert should have been over in plenty of time. Well, the night dragged on, and Lionel Cartwright was way overdue to come to the stage to perform. I was starting to panic that I would have to go home before he ever got to the stage. All that money for the evening wasted. The friend that I was with sent a note backstage to let Mr. Cartwright know my predicament. He got on stage before I had to leave, and met me after the performance and took a picture with me. He was very kind. Somewhere in my attic is that picture. Anyway, this is how my mind works. Traveling to Ohio to see my mom, see the sign for the festival, remember seeing Cartwright as a teenager and then years later as an adult. Here's the song he had on the charts in 1989. It meant something to me because I used to listen to the radio when I was a kid, staying up late at night with the radio against my ear, listening to stations up and down the east coast.
Lionel Cartwright - I Watched It All On My Radio