Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge, TN on July 4, 2002
We (Lynn and I) left Dayton pretty early, 10ish, and headed that way. Traffic, considering it was the 4th, was the best. On my way up I got a call that my leave that had been canceled for the 5th could be taken due the budget being passed. Oh well, we were already on our way and not prepared to go to Biltmore the next day or spend the night. But when we got there a little before noon; the one place I stay had "one" room available and we decided to go ahead and stay the night.
We had a change of clothes with us simply due to the heat and stopped at a grocery store to get a travel pack. We were set. We were also in walking distance of Patriot Park. A good lunch at Sagebrush and we were on our way. We'd already checked it out earlier and parking was out of the question. Lynn dropped me off with chairs, bag and camera and decided to take the car back to the hotel and walk over with our small cooler. About a mile.
When he got there he said, "Did all these people behind you get here after you did, or was this spot just open?" He couldn't believe I got that close. I hadn't thought about it, but the spot I found and the spot Brenda got were the only empty places that close when I got there. Except right against the fence. Which wasn't very good for pictures through the mesh. Chairs were set up everywhere, owners gone. I had my Marty beach towel and spread it between our two chairs for the others. We set up about 3:30. Needless to say, I got a good suntan. We were only a row back from the front which had an orange mesh fence up between us and the stage with maybe 12 feet between the fence and the stage. I kept watching for LaDonna and Brenda and soon here they came. LaDonna and Carol sat between me and Lynn, then Brenda and her husband were only four chairs away. Brenda really looked good, like she is feeling a lot better.
The only delay (maybe 15 minutes) was when a strong wind and black clouds with thunder came through around 6:30. But they were playing Willie Nelson during the delay and he sang "Cloudless Sky" and "Blue Skies" and just sang the worst part of it away from us. LaDonna and I even sang along a few times to help him out. A few good sprinkles to cool us off a bit before Marty came on shortly after 8:30 EST. What more could we ask for. And it cooled down a great bit and was so comfortable for Marty to come out in his cream colored long sleeve shirt with the black short jacket with glitter over the front and sleeves.
Brian and Kenny were also dressed in suits. Marty had a drummer named Billy on loan. (If only he'd known about the guy with "Ball In The House" who performed just before him) They were completely acoustic and one guy made all the drum sounds himself. Another guy did all the bass sounds. Amazing! There were six of them. One of the groups before that had a drummer playing remote drums. Looked like an accordion shaped instrument and he was playing drums on it. My son used to have an electric drum set. Reminded me of that. Marty could really have saved the cost of a drummer that night. I'd like to have known what Marty thought about the acoustic drummer though. I'm still just amazed at the beat and sounds he was able to perform and he even demonstrated with a solo.
The park was absolutely packed by the time Marty came on. I heard a 60,000 figure from Marty. Could have been over the course of the day but it really reminded me of the Alabama Summer Jam I went to, to see Marty in early 90's. Just packed. I always have to look around to see how big a crowd there is. My mother instincts coming out :) While "Ball In The House" were performing, we saw Marty come out of the bus behind the stage, and go over to a VIP tent set up behind the mesh fence. Probably a promotional thing with the local radio station(s). Took him about 30 minutes. "Ball In The House" were performing, and having to see everyone looking over to see what Marty was doing and trying to get a good glimpse. Not just us fan club members either. Almost everyone around us were doing the same. All heads turned to stage right.
The song list went like this:
Marty had so much fun with him and he's getting to be a regular around TN and the outlying areas it seems.
Kenny did "Walk Like That" and they had so much fun with it. Brian did "Everybody in Town Knows I'm Crazy Bout You"
During the show way back somewhere fireworks were going off behind Marty. You couldn't hear them, they were too far away, but they were close enough to make a beautiful back drop for Marty's set. I don't know if LaDonna got any in her pictures or not. I tried, but we'll see in the pictures.
After the show was over they announced that Fan Club would meet Marty at the blue tent left stage. Then he would autograph for everyone else who wanted one. But they stressed that Fan Club only would meet first, at the blue tent. We all got over there and Kathy from Alabama was there and someone else I recognized but my brain is in overhaul and I couldn't remember her name. We all got the picture of Marty with the baby blue jacket and his guitar to get autographed.
The fireworks started and I believe it was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Humongous ones (see what a day in the hills does to your vocabulary?) filled the whole eastern sky and the patriotic music played along. As soon as they finished the fireworks we all got in line (actually two lines, after they decided to send us to another table and then no, go back to the side of the blue tent). They were trying to figure out the best way to make it flow.
LaDonna, Brenda and I were at the front of the line. No time for pictures, but autographs and hugs. I handed him my picture and he asked how everything was going after the sun finally went down. I told him it was so comfortable, but that I'd gotten a nice tan. I also told him how much I liked the new song, "I Surrender" and hoped he did something with it. He said it would be on the next album they were doing in August. (Yeah!) I hugged him and told him to have a great time in Norway next week. He said he couldn't wait to get the trip over. I'm sure they are anxious with all that's going on lately, traveling that far away with the LA airport incident all over the news that night.
It only took maybe a minute at the most and I was headed toward the exit gate. They had a line of workers and two policeman behind Marty to guide our way out. I got to say good bye to LaDonna, Brenda, Carol, and Kathy before we started back to the motel. Lynn was surprised we got through so quickly. He liked Kenny Vaughan's performance and playing. He is really good! Marty knows how to pick them. It was a great 4th of July. I'm so glad things worked themselves out so well, all the way around. I'm already ready for another show!
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