Note: After talking with the lads at rehearsal today, it seems I have a lot of this story wrong… After 35 years or so, who would be surprised? Updated 8/27/14 at 7:13 PM
Yesterday after rehearsal I passed by the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds which is not far from my mom and dad’s house on Ohio Street. On Friday nights we could hear the stock cars from the race track going late into the evening if we had our windows open. Nobody had air conditioning back then.
For one week during the summer, the place explodes with activity as the fair goes into high gear with rides and concessions. [Note: It actually was Silver Laughter and Kim was in the band as our drummer. Ex-member, Steve Elliott, was recording the performance.] Before we were Silver Laughter, Jon and I played there in our band which was either Dandelion Wine or the Assassination of Sound. I think the other two members were Steve Lee (whereabouts unknown) on lead and Paul Hardesty (deceased) on drums. We were still in high school, so it had to be around 1966 or ’67. I think Kim was probably in the audience too as the Ludtke family was always supportive of our musical efforts.
The big tent was just inside the main gate in that area to the right behind the trees, and it had a large stage where we played our music. If memory serves, they had put out folding chairs for our audience. It was a big job for us with lots of exposure, so we were really excited to be chosen to play. [Note: Kim seemed to think we were on the other side of the main gate, but I think I am right on this one. He also had the stage turned around, but I am pretty clear on the set up… but who knows?]
In between our sets (or maybe it was after us) there was a hypnotist by the name of Vandermeide who did his act. Jon was brave enough to go up and be one of his subjects. He ended up singing a bit of “Rock and Roll Music” by himself in front of the audience while the rest of the band looked on and laughed. I remember after it was over we asked him what it was like. He stood there for a moment, and then as if a light came on, his eyes got big, his face turned red and he said, “Boy, there were a lot of people watching, weren’t there?”