Clovis Festival 2008

October 13, 2008


Well, Clovis Fest 2008 is over of course. What a whirlwind of activities. Here’s a few notes from my daily log, blog or clogged sinus if you will, which is what I had when I arrived.

Thurs Sept 4th

Arrived in Lubbock airport feeling pretty tired. I had just finished an 8 week run of “The Wonder Bread Years” in Pittsburgh, PA and no time at home had left me, well a little sick and run down. Need rest! Head and sinus cold kicking in. Am invited and encouraged by Randy Petty one of the festival organizers to attend the Thursday night show that features Tommy Allsup, Kevin Montgomery and my Winter Dance Party pal Ray Anthony. Unfortunately, by the time I get there from Lubbock I am done for and the show has already started. I decide I need to eat and hit the hay. I take solace at Jalisco’s homemade mexican restaurant on 7th avenue. Portions the size of New Mexico and hot salsa that will clear out a Mule-head like me. Highly recommend. I return to humble abode at La Quinta hotel and get needed rest and sleep. I hear the show went well and each cat was great.

Fri Sept 5th

I awake too late for the annual elementary school sing-a-long that George Tomsco always organizes for the kids and usually includes Gary and Ramona Tollet, Peggy Sue, George Tomsco and Stan Larkin and David Bingham of the Roses. A shame I missed as one year I did it I thoroughly enjoyed the kids reaction to music from 50 years ago. Quite fun. Truly bummed I missed but chalk up to my body saying, “sleep, you Mule-headed fool!” I take it easy the entire day and start to feel a little better. I take in the Bobby Vee show that night at Marshal Auditorium. They moved the festival back to the old junior high auditorium which has a much better vibe than last year’s civic center and I think better for the audience as well as the seats are raked. Mainly, it just feels like the 1950’s in that space which is great.

Marshall Auditorium


The show starts with Johnny Preston who was very good and very modest about his presentation. Always love that “Running Bear” and am still singing days later. Chris Montez came out next and I’d never seen him before so I was especially looking forward to it. Despite initial amp and guitar technical trouble he still was able to charm and rock his way thru a very enjoyable set. He even came down off the stage and danced with patrons! Very entertaining. The Chiffons were next and I had never seen them before either. Quite enjoyable and classy. Doo lang, Doo lang, Doo lang! Bobby Vee was the finale of course and was in his element and entertained all with gusto. Great history and songs with slide show as well. Everyone returned for a encore finale and the evening came to an end. We all went off to Chilis (unofficial Clovis Fest eatery due to it being the only place to get sort of decent food after 10:00pm) and soaked up some suds and food. Ran into Sherry Holley and her husband Tom there. Hadn’t seen them in awhile so enjoyed short visit.

Sat Sept 6th

Stan Lark, John, David Bingham and George Tomsco

Stan Lark, John, David Bingham and George Tomsco


John, Peggy Sue and George Tomsco

John, Peggy Sue and George Tomsco

It never fails the day of my show I am running around like a mule with no head. Gotta get some more cold medicine, gotta get to sound check, gotta run to the official opening of the Norman Petty Museum at the Clovis chamber of commerce, gotta run from that back to hotel and get ready for our show. Anyway, I’m feeling better though not 100%. The museum opening was fun and great impromptu sing a long with David Bingham, Gary and Ramona Tollet and George Tomsco and Stan Lark of the Fireballs and myself. I have to sheepishly sneek out at 5:00pm as I have to get ready for our show.

Buddy, Roy and Elvis Show

Before our show starts the mayor of Clovis gives out a special plaque proclaiming to George Tomsco and Stan Lark that today is “Fireballs Day.” Great stuff! George and Stan accept graciously. They are two of the nicest, class act guys I know in showbiz. Hats off.
We’re next and a lot of people are floating around backstage. Tommy Allsup’s there and quite a few others I’m not sure who.
The B,R and E band opens with a good rocking instrumental and then I am next. My voice is not 100% due to lingering sinus-cold but I feel much better than two days ago and rip into “Maybe, Baby.” It feels good but I can’t hear much. The sound system was somewhat a challenge this year as we all had a hard time hearing on stage and we’re told later lead vocals and guitars were a little buried in the house too. Our keyboard player Brother Don Eanes never had any piano in his monitor but gamely played along as if he did. What a pro. We don’t let any of this bother us though and put out 110% energy to entertain the capacity crowd. We’re told we set a record for attendance and are happy to hear. I ask live onstage if Tommy Allsup wants to join me on “It’s So Easy,” and he comes out and borrows my brother George’s guitar. He cracks that George’s guitar strap length is set for a “little boy strap.” Tommy’s a big Texan. George is a small Kansas. It’s hilarious to see Tommy holding George’s guitar with the strap so close the guitar is practically in his face. Tommy rips out the classic “It’s So Easy” guitar solo at the appropriate time and does I notice while a giant fly is buzzing round his fingers..didn’t bother him a bit. I also bring up David Bingam and Gary and Ramona Tollet to sing backup vocals on “That’ll be the Day.” Always an honor to have these folk onstage and the crowd is delighted. I finish my set with my tribute song to Buddy, “Hey, Buddy” and darned if I didn’t get a little choked up at the end of it. Neil Morrow’s tribute to Roy Orbison is next and he wows them with his vocal range. Roy is a hard guy to look like and while Neil does his best to emulate that for the show his best thing is his voice and presentation. The crowd loves him. Scot “Elvis” Bruce is next and he has ladies throwing clothing items on stage and screaming at the top of their lungs. He does a great job. He brings me out to play the guitar solo on “Blue Moon of Kentucky” a la Scotty Moore style which I love to do as those are some of the tastiest solos in rock and roll history. We do it Sun Records style and then Scot rocks the crowd into a frenzy and Neil and I return for a finale with Scot. Crowd gives us a nice round of applause and off we go to greet them in the lobby…and then off to Chilis. Where else?

Neil Morrow and Scot Bruce



Sun Sept 7th, Buddy’s Birthday

Gospel at 10:00am at the new Norman Petty museum which I can’t make as I have to run to Lubbock to set up and teach a workshop/sing a long at the Buddy Holly Center for Buddy’s birthday. I wish I could have attended as it fit right into what I stressed at the workshop. Gospel music. What Buddy, Elvis, Carl, Johnny, and Jerry Lee all loved and heard first really. Listening to the infamous Million Dollar Quartet recordings that Sam Phillips did (he left a tape recorder running while Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were in the studio) one can hear 4 rockabilly cats singing largely gospel music. This is the music they knew, grew up with and loved. Buddy, the very same. Can you imagine rockers from today’s era getting together for an informal jam session and playing gospel music? Doubtful. I haven’t done much lecturing before so am a little out of my element presenting history but have some slides and music clips to help me out. Travis Holley is in attendance and I’m of course honored he made the trouble to come out. I enjoy most getting to the sing a long and Gary and Ramona Tollet arrive just in time from the gospel session to join with me and also Jack Neal (Buddy’s first radio singing partner). Jack and I sing, “Modern Don Juan” a great tune he co-wrote. Jack is the nicest guy on the planet. Funny too. I thank all for attending and we all get ready for some Buddy birthday cake and Bill Griggs leads an informative tour of the museum.

Buddy Workshop in Session.


 Ramona Tollet, Jack Neal, Gary Tollet, John, Sharon and Bill Griggs, and Travis Holley

Ramona Tollet, Jack Neal, Gary Tollet, John, Sharon and Bill Griggs, and Travis Holley

Final thoughts:

It’s great to see the Clovis music festival reach the level it has over the years and this was due in large part to the vision of one Liz Eisenbraun. Liz “got it” as they say and has recently left the chamber and is now pursuing other interests. She will be sorely missed. From all of us with the Buddy, Roy and Elvis show and the Winter Dance Party show we wish her the very best. We have always been honored to appear in Clovis and like Buddy there’s always such good folk there.

We’ll see ya’ll on down the line,
John Mueller
Los Angeles, CA