This is Bob Hempker and since it’s the Fourth of July holiday, I thought I’d share a few of my Fourth of July memories with you.
Spending so many years working as a road musician, I remember being gone over holidays. Back in the seventies and part of the eighties, the fourth of July usually was spent playing an outdoor country music park.
Outdoor country music parks were very, very popular back then. I’m not sure they even exist today. There was Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Indiana. Ponderosa Park in Salem, Ohio. Ontelaunee Park in Tripoli, Pennsylvania. Sunset Park in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Most of the parks were in Pennsylvania, Ohio or Indiana. There were a few in Michigan and Kentucky.
Usually our summers would consist of these outdoor parks on weekends and working fairs during the week. Performing outside could really become a challenge at times. The weather could really become a prime factor. It was either brutally hot, raining or miserable in some manner.
I have played outside in 120 degree heat and also in temperatures as low as 16 degrees. I remember one fourth of July playing on the Mississippi River in St. Louis right by the arch when a ferocious thunderstorm started. Lightning struck a transformer and blew out the electricity. We had no PA or anything.
The crowd was all sitting on the ground out in front of the stage. They couldn’t understand why we couldn’t play the show. I thought they were going to riot. We got our stuff packed up and on the bus and got out of there. Such is the glamorous life of a road musician.
Back in 1976, Mooney and some other people had an authentic wagon train which traveled all the way to the west coast to celebrate our country’s 200th anniversary. We performed at several stops along their way. The only modern convenience they had was rubber tires on their Conestoga wagons.
Holidays in general were just another work day for us. I never had to work Christmas but every other holiday was a common work day. Part of the life of a road musician is not being able to celebrate holidays.
The Easter weekend ritual was always flying to London to play the Wembley Festival. At that time, all the name artists of country music would be on one plane together with their bands. The other passengers on the plane must’ve been scared to death. Anybody who was anybody in country music was on that one plane going over and coming back. One plane crash could’ve wiped out country music’s biggest stars.
The last Fourth of July and this year, Hillsdale College is promoting an event where people stand up and read the Declaration of Independence. I always do this because that’s what the Fourth of July is all about. If you’re a proud American, take some time to reflect on what Independence Day means.
My personal routine on this holiday is to have my morning coffee, then read The Declaration of Independence before I do anything. Every single person who signed that piece of paper knew that if they lost the war, they would be beheaded by King George. That’s the kind of courage our Founding Fathers had.
We will be closed Thursday and Friday in observance of Independence Day. Have a happy and safe holiday.
Be sure to check out our Fourth of July Sales Event happening now through Monday, July 8th. www.steelguitar.net/sale.html
Steel Guitar Nashville
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Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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Open 9AM – 2Pm Second and Third Saturday of each Month