Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (or at least the concert stages) I was a misbehaving teenager attending acid rock shows in the Springfield area armed with a beautiful topshelf Yashica camera I got for a pittance from a B&E artist I knew (as in Breaking and Entering). In a bit of karmic justice, the camera was eventually stolen from me. Anyway, in that distant era they would let you bring cameras into concerts, these being the days before every moment of a rock and roll show became a copyrighted experience that no one can capture in any form unless somebody is being paid a royalty.
So I took a bunch of pictures at a lot of shows and put them in a photo album. Then in the course of relocating hither and yon somewhere along the way I thought I lost it. I always hoped it would turn up someday, but frankly I had no real expectation that it would. Then one day when I was going through some of the stuff in my late Mom's cellar, lo and behold there it was, the book of photos along with some other local music memoriabilia such as the Martian Highway flyer reproduced below.
click photo to enlarge
Leave it to dear old Mom to always save the stuff I was careless about. As for Martian Highway, it was a popular local party band fronted by a cool spade named Carl Mayfield.
The following are pictures of the Jefferson Starship at the Springfield Civic Center, exact date unknown, but it was sometime in the late 70's. The earliest incarnations of the Jefferson Starship were more in the style of the revolutionary Airplane than the commercialized Top 40 hit machine they later became. My main memory of this show is how about a week before the concert, the aforementioned madman Carl Mayfield had some weird LSD-induced vision that the phrase "Bloated Oat a Goat Will Float," whose specific meaning he was never quite able to explain, must somehow be spread to the multitudes assembled and particularly to the Starship itself.
So he went about making stickers, signs, balloons and anything else he could think of to disperse to the crowd which had that statement (among other things) written on them. I think all eight thousand people who attended that show encountered that phrase multiple times; at the very least they heard it once when Grace Slick picked up something with the phrase written on it that was thrown on stage and asked, "Bloated oat a goat will float? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Ah Grace, just another one of the cosmic mysteries that will never be solved!
Spacey Gracie the Acid Queen
The voice that launched a thousand trips.
Craig Chaquico and Kantner.
The late Pine Pointer "Fuji" Cardinal (center) and crew at the concert. His real first name was Dave, and he was best known as a Boston Road Cumberland Farms cashier who also sold weed that he kept hidden behind the counter. The place sold more lids than it did gallons of milk. He died in a highway accident about five years ago.
Boston Road Car Caper
Want even more Springfield oldies? Okay, here's a funny true life story my friend Jordan Williams (above right) sent me in an email years ago.
It all began when I stopped by that used car lot next to St. Michael's cemetary in Pine Point, Springfield:
At the time I was searching for a replacement for the RX-7. As I drove down Boston Road in Springfield at around 10 PM, I spotted a vehicle on the Pine Point lot that I thought might be the ticket. I pulled up onto the sidewalk in order to get out of the way of traffic and got out to check out the cars. I'm in the habit of leaving the car running for brief stops like this one for fear that the intermittent starting problem I've been having might arise once again. This despite having invested $542 during the prior week because of a bad door, a major tune-up and that starting situation.
A couple of minutes into the tire kicking, I noticed a guy walking down the street on the other side who seemed to be making an effort to get my attention. Waving his arms and yelling some sort of gibberish. I knew I didn't know him and just sort of waved him off. Well naturally he stumbled over to talk to me - in Spanish. I said "No espanol," and just hoped he would go away. He spoke English just fine though, and offering his hand in friendship his first sentence was this: "My name is Manuel, I am Puerto Rican, and I see, my friend, that you are looking for a car. This is a very good business - cars. It so happens that I will be receiving twenty three thousand dollars very soon because of this injury (points to unmarked portions of one arm and one leg) and I would like to invest in such a car business. Me and you can be partners. What do you think? Would you like to be with me in the car business?"
Hmm. I sized up my potential new business partner. On the plus side he appeared to be about 40, in good shape, bilingual and would soon have many thousands of dollars. On the minus he was shirtless, drunk, stoned, crazy and dirty. It was a close call and one that, sadly, went against poor Manuel. I said "Well, that is certainly something to think about." But I believe that I saw in Manuel's eyes a sadness. A sadness that said "I do not believe you want to be partners with Manuel."
He then informed me that he was late to work and asked if I would give him a ride. I declined. He then asked me for a dollar. "Sorry Manuel, all tapped out." "How about 50 cents?" "No can do." And the litany began again, starting with a ride, moving to a dollar and ending with 50 cents. No. No. No. And again. And again. He was also getting more belligerant. By now I was simply ignoring him and just looking at cars. He wouldn't leave though and I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I drifted away in the opposite direction that he'd eventually leave. It worked. He finally walked away.
I was now about 50 yards from my car. Manny was gone. Wrong. A few minutes later I realized that Manuel had doubled back, screened from me by a house, and suddenly reemerged near my car. He screamed out the question "50 cents man?" It was all crystal clear now. I shook my pockets wishing I had a couple of quarters. Nothing. "No Manuel . . . NO!" I hollerd. But I watched in horror as he jumped into the Mazda and, as I screamed "No, Manny don't do it!" Manuel floored it, bouncing off the road as he left the sidewalk onto the pavement and laying a fair amount of rubber. The Mazda was gone.
Or was it? Coincidence, or perhaps destiny, can be a remarkable thing though and a Springfield police cruiser came around the corner just moments after Manuel's betrayal. I ran into the street arms flailing away. The cruiser swerved slightly to avoid me and though I noticed the lone officer looking curiously into the rear view mirror, there was no change in speed as he crested and then disappeared over the same hill as Manuel. Indeed - the Mazda was truly gone.
12 hours later I was on my way to the Poconos and wouldn't get a police update until the next night: "Mr. Williams…that car is still stolen."
Actually, I never saw it again.
If you don't offer this you can't stay in business.
The Jolly Rogers atop a UMass partyhouse.
I stopped in at Amherst's historic West Cemetery.
I wanted to check in on Miss Emily.
Status Update: Still dead.
Some of the stones have been damaged by vandals.
If the vandals don't get you, time will.