9 Stevie Ray Vaughan at Celebrate Austin Music

| December 25, 2016 | Reply

Courtesy photo

Because you asked…

The Celebrate Austin Music Festival at Zilker Park, circa April 15, 1984, was filled with Austin-based touring acts with generous sprinklings of up-and-comers. A lot of that information is in Rod Kennedy’s book, Music of the Heart, written many years before his 4-14-14 death.

It had been a long three-day event, and I was pretty well exhausted by the time to begin working with the Sunday night performers and logistics. You see, I primarily worked with all the “things that could go wrong (or right),” and let Rod be free to handle the stage and “be the good guy,” which he did so well. Musicians everywhere would do practically anything for Rod Kennedy — he treated them that well!

However, one that was a little cautious that night was the closing act, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band, Double Trouble. Rod had made sure that everything in his, and all the other musicians’, contracts was in order. At the last minute, Vaughan’s road manager required one more monitor, saying it was necessary because of Vaughan’s hat that he always wore on stage. We were able to accomplish that.

But then, only a few short hours before Vaughan’s slotted time on the stage, that same road manager approached me, saying that he’d heard that sometimes Kennedy wasn’t able to pay his performers, and that Vaughan wouldn’t go on until all the money in his contract had been paid up front.

OK, that was several thousand dollars. But, to make it happen, I collected cash from every source — the tickets, the t-shirt sales, beer sales — and gathered up the cash. But, by then, I was a little ticked… like I said, it was the final day and I (as had everyone else) had worked hard and was really beat.

Also feeling a bit the need to stay in control…

I took the cash to town, and had it all converted into $5 bills, all several thousand dollars in $5 bills. Then, took it back to the road manager. OK, he was happy; but my Imp of the Perverse was still in charge… I told the road manager, “No, I need you to count it out and sign for it.” What? He asked.

I took him into our make-shift office trailer, and had him count every single $5 bill until it reached the required total sum. That took a little bit more than “a short while.” But he did, he signed the paper work, and then Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band did what they did best — totally great music and performance.

After the night was over, and as stage crews broke down the stages and sound and lights, etc., someone set up some music and many of us just made an after-party of it.

That road manager and I danced together several times— many times. He finally broke the ice, saying, that was the best gimmick he’d ever had pulled on him. He totally liked it. He also said that it was his job to be the ‘bad guy’ for Stevie Ray Vaughan, so that Vaughan could always be ‘the nice guy,’ and I laughed when I told him that I had that same responsibility to Rod Kennedy.

We left, he and I, complete friends.

And speaking of that friend, I wish I could remember his name — that was nearly 33 years ago, and I’ve slept since then. He probably has, too.

 

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