Every year, there is one very huge, very pleasant surprise for me at the six-night Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn. Last night was my night to remember from the 2014 fair. Parmalee was our headliner. This is a band that understands ‘fan loyalty’, they have figured out how to be ‘fan-friendly’ and they definitely understand ‘the show must go on’! Let me explain.
Clare Dunn opened the show for Parmalee on the Main Stage at the fair last night. Her set was acoustic, it wasn’t long, but she was there to get the crowd ready for Parmalee. As if they weren’t already. (We’ll have an article up about Clare soon). Clare had the good weather. We thought all the clouds had pushed out of the area, and we were going to get through the concert without any problems.
Unfortunately, Parmalee didn’t get more than three songs out, when the storm got bad. Dangerous lightning was being reported just five miles away, and moving our direction. We had fans sitting on metal grandstands; we had fans in the reserved seats on metal chairs, and the fair directors were not about to let us stay there. To the storm, we weren’t a group of fans – we were all little individual lightning rods. The fair staff cleared the audience and the show stopped.
I felt as bad for Parmalee as I did for everyone in the audience. They weren’t just singing up there – they were entertaining. They had a whole light show thing going on, and the stage was filled with equipment. They work hard. They are very talented musicians/vocalists, who obviously love what they do and want to give their fans a great show every time. They were prepared to give us an awesome show, but Mother Nature had a different plan.
Some of the audience members went to the bathrooms – which are cinderblock buildings and a good place to hide from the elements. Others went to the Farm & Home building, it’s big, and it is air conditioned. Many, especially the Moms with young children in tow, headed home.The die-hard fans, like your Country’s Chatter staff, stayed in the Main Stage area under the Merchandise Tent, away from the metal chairs, and waited to see what was going to happen next. At one point, I walked back to the front of the stage to find a little ‘committee’ standing on the stage trying to figure out what to do. I wasn’t keeping an eye on the clock – I know we had been there a long time. I’m guessing at this point it was now around 9:30 P.M. We were cold, we were wet, and we were determined not to leave.
Bill Graham, one of the fair board members and head of security in the Main Stage area, came out and told the handful of fans waiting there, that they were going to take us all back to the dressing rooms and we could get autographs, pictures and have a little time to chat with the band. So, we waited for that to happen. It didn’t. But, what did happen was Bill came back out to the crowd and told us he had something better for us. Parmalee did not want any of us to go home disappointed. They came to do a show, and they were going to. Since we couldn’t do it outside – they herded everyone to the sheep barn, and the band performed an acoustic concert in the middle of the judging ring!
I have to admit, this was my first concert in a sheep barn. And, it was probably one of the best country concerts I’ve ever been to. When I say it was ‘acoustic’ I mean it. The kids had nothing plugged in, not even microphones – but they worked hard, singing all the songs we love them for, and making sure the 135 people who stayed got their show! As if that wasn’t enough, after the show, they put us all in a nice, neat, organized line and let everyone have a picture taken with the band, and get autographs. The line moved quickly. It was fun saying ‘hello’ and getting something signed. Some of us had already been to the pre-show Meet & Greet, but we loved having that opportunity to talk to Matt, Josh, Barry and Scott one more time before they left the fairgrounds.
This band, their road manager, and their entire crew proved to all of us that we [the fans] are the reason they do what they do. They really care. While I wish them much continued success, I hope they never get so big that they forget their sheep-barn performance at the Appalachian Fair; or the people who stayed through that storm to see them. I hope, too, that they remember the most important part of last nights show was them! We didn’t need the lights; we didn’t need the microphones; we didn’t need the amplified guitars. We got a fantastic country concert in a barn where sheep had been judged just a few hours before, and any one of us would be more than happy to do it all again.
In addition to their web site, be sure to visit their Facebook page, and remember to “Like” it while you are there. You can follow them on Twitter, @Parmalee. If you aren’t already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, you will find us @countryschatter.
I’m gong to close this out with a few more pictures from last night. I hope everyone reading this has a chance to see Parmalee on stage sometime. And if you get to a Meet & Greet, be sure to tell them “Country” said “Hi”. I will definitely remember this night for a very long time! Seems I Musta Had a Good Time!
We have three more nights to our 2014 Appalachian Fair. But, I do believe we’ve already had the best night we are going to get. And I know I will never again complain about the possibility of rain on fair night!
Back with more soon,