Trempealeau Hotel - Trempealeau, WI on August 20, 1999
We didn't leave Lac du Flambeau until about 11:00 a.m. We got up, repacked the car, and had breakfast first. It wasn't that far to Trempealeau, less than 300 miles, and we got there around 4:00 p.m. Pat Katz was there, also, but she had planned to leave earlier in the morning and she already had places staked out for our chairs. We got set up and settled down to wait. Trempealeau is a nice little town with old buildings, right on the river, and there's a well-used railroad line that runs right between the river and where the buses were parked! We figured it would be too cool if one went by just when Marty did Hobo's Prayer, but it didn't work out that way. Lori, Kevin, and Nicholas Shirley were there, we talked to them a while. I had some pictures of them with Marty at the booth, but I couldn't find the copies I had made so I just gave them the originals and I'll put the copies back with the other pictures. Lori said Reneé was supposed to be there, too, but I never saw her.
The security chief came by before the crowd got big and made everyone move their chairs back, and warned us that when the shows started people stood up and we might get trampled, though at the time we didn't realize he meant it literally. The opening band was, believe it or not, named Rode Hard And Put Up Wet. And, even more amazing, they were really good! Good enough so Brad and Gary stood and watched them for quite a while, which is unusual, and Marty mentioned them when he came on. They did a lot of current songs, of course, but they also did some old songs...Merle Haggard/Johnny Paycheck/etc. They did two sets, and Marty didn't come on until 9:30 p.m.
So Ellie and I decided that after Rode Hard finished we'd just move up by the stage, and put the chairs away. We thought we'd done good, as we got right in front of the stage, just to the right of center, what should have been a really good spot. Marty came out, the show started, and it was awesome! What a different perspective, to have him standing right there above you, within a few feet when he came to the edge of the stage! It was terrible for taking pictures, but *wonderful* to watch. At least, it should have been.
They did "High On A Mountain Top," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," "Little Things," "Blue Train," "Tempted," "Are You Ready For The Country," "Dark As A Dungeon," "Burn Me Down," "Sometimes The Pleasure's Worth The Pain," "Red. Red Wine And Cheatin' Songs," "Ring Of Fire," "Soldier's Joy," "Now That's Country," "Hillbilly Rock," and, for the encore, "Hey Baby" and "Western Girls." It was the kind of crowd that wasn't at all interested in slow ballads, they were drunk and rowdy and the women just shrieked like teenagers through the whole show. They talked all the way through "Dark As A Dungeon," showing absolutely no respect for either Marty or the song. So he changed the set list, which we could see........"Long Black Veil," "Hobo's Prayer," and "The Pilgrim" were on it, but he took them out and put in faster songs instead. He said that Rode Hard "did good music," and he talked about how his fan club started in Wisconsin, with its beginnings back when he was playing with Johnny Cash and Pat Katz was following Johnny, and she also believed in him and his talent.
All was...okay...for about the first half of the show. Ellie was to my left, and she did all right; Pat was farther to the left, over in front of Gary, and she was fine. But I had a group of women to my right who had *way* too much to drink, and they were dancing and wiggling and banging into me (making pictures next to impossible), waving their arms around and whacking me in the head, and blowing a steady stream of kisses at Marty. But I could grit my teeth and try to ignore them, they at least weren't doing it intentionally (I doubt if they knew what they were doing), though I would have been *much* happier without them. They did pull one stunt, they waved Marty over and being the nice guy that he is, he went. He got close enough to the edge so they had their hands on his leg, though, and they must have started grabbing or pulling because he jumped back *real* quick. Later on they must have tried to get him over there again, because he shook his head at them and mouthed a distinct "NO!"
Then two guys right behind us got mad at each other and almost started a brawl, they were well into the shouting and swearing stage. But then came the best of all............another female appeared behind me, drunker than the others, and she did her level best to push and shove her way through me to get to the stage for the rest of the show. I had both feet braced and a hand on the stage, and I still almost got knocked over several times. I turned around once and said something to her, and got a totally blank stare in return, so I gave that up. Where was security, you ask? One was standing to the right of us, and one was standing to the left at center stage...doing nothing. I thought about leaving, but I don't think I could have gotten out. I never thought I'd ever say I was glad to see a show end, but I have to admit that this time I was.
After the show ended, the crowd soon thinned out (went inside to the bar to do more drinking, probably), and we got ourselves together and got in the Meet & Greet line. Lori, Kevin, and Nicholas were in line behind us; Lori said she'd tried to get closer with Nicholas but couldn't, and I said it was probably a good thing, he wouldn't have been safe up there. The line was pretty long and we were almost at the end, so it took a few minutes to get to Marty. I talked to Mike for a minute while we were there. Since this was our last show and we were heading home in the morning, I didn't have Marty sign anything, I just wanted a hug. He came through, when he saw me he held out his arms and gave me a big, big hug, and then he said "I almost dove right on top of you, would you have carried me?" So I think those women must have been pulling pretty hard on his leg. I should have told him I almost came up on stage with him a few times, too!
We hung around until they left, and they were all walking around by the buses but we didn't really talk to anyone. We saw Gary for a minute and he said he saw that we were having trouble over there, so it was obvious from the stage, even. We also saw Brad for a minute, but that was all, except to wave to Ken and Jeff as they drove up the street. And in the morning we headed for home. We planned our route so we could both add to our list of states we've been in, going across the corner of Minnesota (both of us) and some of Iowa (Ellie) (Missouri was new for Ellie, too, and Wisconsin for both of us). We got back home Sunday night, with 4,134 miles on the car, exhausted and broke but very happy after seeing four shows in three days!
Review by Margie Brodmerkle, Oakham, MA
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