Old Milton School - Milton, IN on November 27, 1999

We arrived around 10:00 a.m. -- way too early to check into our motel room, so we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then went to find and check out the Old Milton School. It's an old school building and the theatre is a small place, obviously the old school auditorium, holding about 500 people. There weren't many rows of seats front to back, but they went way over to the left and right, and the stage was huge (painted lines on it looked like it had been the gymnasium). We said "hi" and talked to Mike a minute, and by then it was almost 1:00 so we went and found our motel and checked in. Cindy called almost as we got to the room, to say that she, her friend Lisa/AL, and Margie/TN had arrived at their hotel, too and would see us at the show.

We got cleaned up and went back to the school. Saw Marty as he headed off to walk around town (this was not a big place. He said on the first show that it took four minutes!), and he stopped to say "hi"; Pat was in the back and he said we were her chauffeurs. Dale and Donna from PA were there. They had been when we first arrived, so we parked by their camper. Sheila and Jaimie arrived, and Kim, LisaS, and her daughter Shaina. Glenda and Clarence, and another couple with them, got there and parked next to us, and we all proceeded to chat up a storm. Cindy, Lisa/AL, and Margie/TN didn't get there until about five minutes before the first show, so we didn't talk to them until later.

Sometime around mid-afternoon when Glenda, Clarence, me, Ellie, and Pat were standing there talking, Marty came out of the building and came across the parking lot to hug Glenda. Then he came over to their van, climbed into the back, and sat there and talked to us for quite a while. We talked about The Pilgrim and MCA, and he said "They buried it and I'm going to uncover it." I don't know what his plan is, but apparently he has something in mind. He asked Glenda how she would feel if she hadn't been home in 28 years and said one of the things he wants to do with his time off is finish his cabin in Mississippi. We told him that the New Year's Eve show is private, which he didn't know...I think it kind of hit him, and he said "so this is it." At one point two security people came over asking if Marty was there and said to tell him his mother had called and said that Jennifer wasn't going to make it, after all. He of course got worried but they said everything was all right, she just wasn't going to get there. Then after a while Mike came out looking for him, saying he had to go to work and took him away, but not before Marty had us take a picture of "the last biscuit handoff" with him and Glenda.

There were two shows, at 6:00 and 9:00, with three opening acts...a country band (okay but weak female singer), a bluegrass band (very good), and a new artist, Nancy Middleton, who is being managed by none other than our own Mike Copelin! Marty came out and played guitar with her on "Who Will The Next Fool Be" (a song he used to do on his own shows). Ellie and I got right down in front because Mike had asked us in MI if we would take some pictures of Nancy and Marty together for him, and Pat was taking pictures from our seats. Marty's first show was short with no encore (he also did the M&G between shows), but was pretty much a normal show. They played "I'm Still Here," "Country Girls," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," "Blue Train," "Tempted," "Dark As A Dungeon," "Burn Me Down," "Red Red Wine And Cheatin' Songs," "Hobo's Prayer," "Soldier's Joy," and "Hillbilly Rock." Gary didn't feel well again (like at Virginia Beach) and left the stage for a short while, but he came back before long. Our seats were in the first row of the balcony against the right side for this show, not too bad a place to see from, but the lighting was very dim so I took very few pictures, I don't think they'll come out good at all.

The M&G was held between shows. Once again Marty met with pass holders in another room, then came out into the end of the hall for the fan club. The line was huge but Mike wasn't rushing us, and they allowed pictures with Marty this time. I had some pictures of me and Marty that I'd had enlarged signed, hugged him one last time, and he said "I'll see you soon." Then we went outside and talked to a few of the guys a little before going back in for the second show.

Once again on the second show Marty came out and played guitar while Nancy sang "Who Will The Next Fool Be." Our seats for this show were on the floor, in the third row against the left wall, but there were steps going up to the stage in front and some of us went and sat on them. (Some of the group sat there for the first show, too.) Not great, but better than our seats, where I couldn't even see Gary from. Marty's second show was longer, they did "I'm Still Here," "Country Girls," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" "Blue Train," "Tempted," "Till I Found You," "Oh What A Silent Night," "Burn Me Down," "Red Red Wine And Cheatin' Songs," "Hobo's Prayer," "Southern Accent," "Now That's Country," "Hillbilly Rock," and the encore was "The Pilgrim" and "Long Black Veil."

This show had a different feel, at least to some of us who knew it was the end. The audience was almost silent during the quiet songs, and didn't make a sound during "Long Black Veil," which I've never seen before (either where he sings "I'd been in the arms of my best friends's wife" and makes a face, which always gets some shouts and whistles, or at the break where it goes to instrumental). I was hoping they'd all come to the front of the stage and take a bow so I could get a picture of them all lined up together, but they didn't. After "Hillbilly Rock," Marty went specifically to the people he knew to shake hands before he left the stage and, after they finished "Long Black Veil" (how appropriate that he ended with that as the last song), he picked up the set list (it looked so final when he did that), waved, and was gone.

The rest of the audience had to have wondered why this group down in the front left corner (me, Ellie, Margie/TN, Lisa/AL, Cindy, LisaS, Shaina, Kim?; Pat was sitting to our left/second row, Sheila and Jaimie were sitting way over on the right/front row, Glenda and Clarence were all the way over to the right/front row) was crying off and on for half the show. I was okay for a while, not really thinking about it, but when they finished "Tempted," Marty said: "We've got a lot of members of our fan club here. Glenda and Clarence Rummell from OH, how many shows have you been to? 338 shows. Where's Pat? Pat, how many you been to? 230. What about the Cookie Girls? (Me-116, Ellie-70.) *I* haven't been to 116 shows! What about the girl from Utah, where's Marsha? How many you been to, Marsha? (100) ...We've got so many people that follow us around and wore out three or four cars. Glenda, what you want to hear? What song? ... Till I Found You? ... This is for our fan club." And then I lost it, and most of the others did, too. That was about the point where I noticed that Steve looked like he was crying, and Gregg looked pretty unhappy, too, though he's hard to see behind those drums. It wasn't as hard during the fast songs, but it was very hard when they did "Hobo's Prayer," "The Pilgrim," and "Long Black Veil," knowing that this was it, the last songs, the last show until who knows when, maybe never again with this group. All of them have become so important to me, like family, and I'm going to miss them terribly.

We did talk to everyone that night, hugged them all, and said we'd miss them. I kept it together pretty well with the guys except for a couple of times. When us Marty friends were hugging each other goodbye it was harder, but I've made some good friends and we'll stay in touch. None of us wanted it to end, of course, but if it had to it ended in a good way, with two wonderful shows and a chance to talk to every one of the band and crew before they left.

Review by Margie Brodmerkle, Oakham, MA

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