The phone rang in the middle of the night, Me: “Hello?”
Larry: “Dude!” Me: “Sup?” Larry: “I’m going to put on a rock show, I’m going to rent out the Civic Auditorium and have all our friends’ bands play…lights, sound, limos, catering – groupies!!!…it’s going to be killer.”
Me: “Go back to sleep, dude.”
It was the middle of ‘89 and Larry, my best bud from school, had recently gotten hired by the post office as a real-life mailman, ya know, the door-to-door kind. It was also at the height of the hair metal music scene, and he could’ve passed as the poster child for all things rock-n-roll. Not that this was a bad thing, but, it’s not every day your letter carrier looks like Nikki Sixx – well without the makeup, but he certainly had the swagger and the hair – and maybe even a little eyeliner.
This was the era of bad-boy R&R and despite that, Larry took his postal job very seriously, his customers loved him because he was so personable. The girls too. That made him a natural frontman and one of the reasons I had originally talked him into singing in my band several years earlier (and the fact that he had the money to buy a PA). But, I had gone and gotten married and with a baby on the way, heavy metal just got too heavy. Larry joined another band. I jammed with a group that played less party-fueled music (my metal friends lovingly referred to that band as “Log Cabin”).
So Larry is delivering mail by day and driving to LA at night to record, burning the candle at both ends, and he has a vision – why not do something really big, something to be remembered by…and nothing was bigger than an arena concert. Featuring several local metal bands and a Hollywood headliner – a music festival was born. He partnered with the #1 local rock station at the time and had their top-rated DJ host the show. He actually rented the Civic Auditorium and brought in professional lights, sound, and video (yours truly even did the posters and flyers). And he gave a lot of local bands a place to showcase their music in true Sunset Strip style…it was one hell of a night.
So, two thoughts come to mind… only in Bakersfield could someone in their twenties have a dream so off-the-wall and actually pull it off, and with this issue, we’re proud to present our guide to local festivals (pg. 35), featuring everything from bacon fests to craft beer fests – and a few musical ones too. Plus we take a look back at Mayor Harvey L. Hall and his 16 years of service to our community (pg. 45) as well as many other great stories and regular features.
Larry lost a ton of money on that show and yet it was never about the money, it was only rock-n-roll – and we like it.