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Posted Tuesday, 10
SURF BALLROOM, CLEAR LAKE, IA - 1998
by Tim Verthein - firstname.lastname@example.org
We arrived in Clear Lake, Iowa this afternoon (Friday) about 3:30 PM. Weather is better than usual here this time of year, about 29 degrees (F). Two years ago it was 38 below zero! Checked in with management at the Surf Ballroom. First, and most obvious change this year, is that the event is now called "The Winter Dance Party", rather than the Buddy Holly Tribute. Informed speculation tells me that the Surf is trying to break free of the clutches of Maria Elena Holley, who has always socked them for a lot of dough to use Buddy's name in the event (like 30% of the gate, a good chunk of the bar reciepts, and 15% of gift shop sales...not confirmed). This years poster, for the first time to my knowledge does not have Buddy (or any other entertainers) on it in picture form. This is OK with me. it's saving the Surf some cash, and, after all, there were THREE performers involved, so this makes it seem more "fair" to the others as well.
The Crickets, who were scheduled to appear, are NOT comming. First time in 5 years they haven't been here. The short version of the story is, with Maria not "in charge" of how the event should be handled, the Crickets wanted more control of the show, and the Surf was not going to give it to them, so they are not comming. This, too, is OK with me, more because I1ve seen them about 10 times, and the Fantastic Convertibles are taking the stage in their place, and they are one heck of a rockin' outfit! The author of the recently released book "The Day The Music Died" will be here signing his book, I believe on Friday and Saturday. Wouldn't you know, I forgot my copy back home!
Iowa public Television did a documentary on the Surf, which was mostly finished (as least as far as actual filming) about 3 years ago, due to lack of funding it wasn't completed till this year. it was shown on IPTV, the day BEFORE we arrived, so I missed it, but I'm gonna try to find a copy. Lou Diamond Phillips narrates the film (Played Ritchie Valens in Labamba).
Rumors are already flying about the upcomming event in 1999, the 40th anniversary of the plane crash, and the 20th for the reunion, which started in 79. Word on the street is Gary Busey is comming (Played Buddy in the movie), along with a large contigent of Valens' relatives (also heard his Aunt Ernistine is having some health problems). There1s also rumors that JP Richardson Jr will be here next year, (and also rumors that he will be here this weekend). he looks and sounds just like his Dad, and after talking with him a few months ago, indicated he had a CD comming out, chock full of guest performers, and he has a show together). So that will be interesting if it indeed happens. Maria will definitly be here next year. Here in Clear Lake gas in .99 a gallon, and Twinkies are two packs for a buck, so I1m in great shape! I've heard from a couple others on the list that are commin', so maybe we1ll bump into each other!
Thursday night the band was the Torpedos, from Wisconsin. A typical oldies cover band, although quite versatile. complete with a white jumpsuited Elvis impersonator who frolicked among the audience. Way to skinny to be the 70's Elvis, however. The band was competent, however, the guitarist certainly didn't nail the solo on Rock Around the Clock, and why, oh why, does a band with a sax player, complete with TWO saxes intheir stands, do the sax bit in RATC on a KEYBOARD!!?
Spent most of Friday afternoon hitting the many Clear lake antique stores. Bought one 78, Hank kenny on King doing The Poodle Song/The Freckle Song, for a buck, and also got a nice early 50's vintage Airline phonograph. One dealer was certainly poised to take advantage of the Holley/Valens/Bopper fans comming to town, complete with current issue Holly CD's priced at over TWICE the surrent record price! I mean current stuff, like, available now in any common record store! They also had common, modern reissue and collection Holly LP's priced at hundreds of dollars! Almost as high priced as original issue Coral/Brunswickstuff!
Friday night was the Sock Hop, with a DJ, who does a very good job - music was LOUD, crowd was PACKED IN, and the costume contest and dance contest blew about 45 mminutes to an hour, and pissed off a lot of people who want to dance! The DJ's show is great with three huge screen video's hanging from the ceiling with live performances from many vintage rock and rollers, car commercials, crusin' videos, etc. We made it back to the motel for the evening by 11 PM.
Up Saturday morning at 6AM to set up at the record show. Was a rather slow show, but made enough selling 45's at three bucks a piece to cover our room for the weekend. Some real pricey stuff, but a lot of reasonable priced stuff too. It1s a hard show to do, because the general public is the main customer, and don1t want to pay collector prices, and are shopping for mainstream rock and roll. There was a guy who had purchased a comb belinging to Buddy at an auction, had a certificate of authenticity from Maria Elena, and was charging $6 bucks to let you run it thru your hair while he took a polaroid picture, which was then mounted on a certificateof authenticity saying something like "I ran my hair thru Buddy's comb."I almost did it, then figured...phooey.
The memorabilia show in the ballroom yesterday was a bit slow too. One fella with a great collection of stuff that I had met before was not at this show, and I was looking forward to perusing his stuff again. The show was again this afternoon, along with fan fare, but we didn1t bother going. Some of tonights performers will be there signing autographs, etc., but we've already met all of them before, so thought we could use the rest before tonights 7 hour long concert. The Surf is giving narrated bus tours to the crash site. Kind of morbid, but they're always full. I've never taken the tour because I already know the story, and I've been to the site several times. There's a quarter mile walk to the site in the middle of a cornfield, where there is a nice stainless steel memorial (built by a fan) there.