Music Belongs in the Great Outdoors


Memorable Open Air Concerts

By Jeff Salter

Generally speaking, these days, I’d much rather be indoors than out. Lots of reasons, mostly related to age and various infirmities. But I still remember younger years when you could hardly drag me inside unless it was pouring down rain with lightning nearby.

Outdoor performances have their own problems, beginning with electricity and shelter… and ending with amenities like restrooms. Another big problem with outdoor music is acoustics and ambient noise — it’s hard to listen to a heartfelt song when a train rumbles past or a helicopter flies overhead.

To be sure, I’ve heard some big names (in music) in indoor concerts, including Glenn Yarbrough, The Rascals, Classics IV, B.J. Thomas, and The Happenings, among many others.

But I’ve also seen a few greats in an outdoor venue… so let me set the stage (pun intended): At the very end of August 1969, two weeks after the big event near Woodstock NY, some of those very same performers traveled to a little known raceway in Prairieville, near Gonzales, roughly midway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Yeah, betcha you never heard of it. It was called the New Orleans Pop Festival and it drew perhaps one-tenth of the crowd which (a fortnight previously) had flocked to see many of the same performers.


On a double date, I was there with a girl from Gretna. She loved Janis Joplin… and Janis was on the bill. Partly because there were many changes in the lineup from what had been published during the concert’s advance promotion, I’ve never been 100% certain who I saw, beyond Country Joe and the Fish, a soloist named Oliver, and (of course) Janis.

According to Wiki and other corroborating sources, this was the actual lineup for the day I was there:

Sunday, August 31, 1969

Flower Power
Snow Rabbit
Spiral Starecase
The Youngbloods
It’s a Beautiful Day
Country Joe and the Fish
The Byrds
Canned Heat
Iron Butterfly
Janis Joplin

Assuming that order is accurate, I’m assuming I also heard most or all of those ten other acts (besides the three I specifically recall). And there are some BIGGIES in that group. Had I returned for the following day, I could’ve heard the Grateful Dead, Chicago, and the Jefferson Airplane. Wow.

I have a more fulsome report on this outdoor festival in my 4F1H post from some 27 months ago. I hope you have a few minutes to check it out:

More Local, More Enjoyable

So, having established my music-listening bona fides by dropping some of those big names, let me say that I’ve lately found a lot of enjoyment in smaller outdoor venues with individuals and groups from this and other areas of Kentucky.

Some of these, I’ve heard at the Market on Main events in downtown Somerset; at least one concert was at the “piano park” over on College Street. These settings are relaxed, informal, and – for lack of a better word – “intimate.”

I love sitting through a concert and then being able to go up and chat with the musicians afterwards. I certainly couldn’t do that with the crowds at the Raceway in 1969.

Here are some of the individuals and groups I’ve heard, locally, in these smaller venue outdoor concerts. [And let me add that I’m very impressed with the talent represented. Based on talent alone, most of these folks could well be on a much larger national stage. But, of course, exposure is a huge part of the package, isn’t it?]

*** LaMay & Reese (Joe LaMay and Sherri Reese) with Paul Davis on banjo and Randy Frye on bass.

*** Warren Byrom with Chris Sullivan (and others)

*** Vocalist Stephanie Harris Bastin (and musicians)

*** Eric Bolander

There have been other groups I didn’t catch the names of.

Something in particular I enjoyed with LaMay & Reese was how relaxed they seemed. They took requests, chatted with the audience, did a bit of coordinating on their selections, and other unscripted things that I found refreshing. For one song, Paul Davis put aside his banjo, took Joe LaMay’s guitar, and sang a Roger Miller song requested from the audience. Betcha you don’t see that at the Grand Ole Opry.


What outdoor musical events have you been to?

[JLS # 296]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in experiences, memories, Miscellaneous, Music and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Music Belongs in the Great Outdoors

  1. it must be some experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Most big names come to an outdoor amphitheater in my area and I’ve seen dozens of concerts there, including Def Leppard, Robert Plant, Stevie Nicks, Motley Crue, Nickelback, Sammy Hagar, Poison, Kid Rock, Alice Cooper, just to name a few. Most recently, my hubby and I went to see Breaking Benjamin and Disturbed (alternative rock of today) and it rained the entire time. The concert was delayed over an hour and halfway between, it had to stop for about half an hour due to lightning.

    As far as outdoor music festivals, I’ve been to a couple of Lollapaloozas in the mid nineties. Those were wild times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jenn, don’t I recall correctly that you used to be on the road with some group?


      • jbrayweber says:

        Not on the road. I was a local band manager (3 different bands) and I also did various music odd jobs such as booking agent for a couple of clubs, ran lights during band performances, promotions for bands/clubs, wrote articles for a local rag, and ran video for a cable show featuring rock bands at a particular venue. Oh…and I wrote a couple of songs, though nothing ever came from them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        a songwriter too? wow !

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    The New Orleans Pop Festival sounds like an amazing experience – and I would have LOVED to have been there the day after you were there! Grand Rapids hosts a lot of big names at the Meijer Gardens outdoor amphitheater, and my daughter has gone to several of those – but I can’t handle sitting on stone benches, and I couldn’t spend three hours in a lawn chair, so I haven’t gone to them. The small, intimate concerts sound like fun. They have some of those in a nearby suburb. Maybe someday I’ll talk a friend into going with me – it’s long after hubby’s bedtime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, it’s usually a lot more fun to have a companion with you… but this last one I attended by myself… and still had a good time.
      BTW, I may not have mentioned that we just sat on the grass (or concrete, depending where you were) at the raceway in 1969. No way I could remain there (these days) for hours and hours without a proper chair.


  4. Quite a line-up in that concert,Jeff! You ‘ve seen a LOT of big name acts.I’m jealous. It was my sister who got to see all the stars in our family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the smaller concerts are more appealing than the large crowded ones. It would be nice to get to talk to the musicians afterward.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Joselyn says:

    I think the smaller concerts would be more fun as well. There’s more chances for the performers to interact with the crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s