From: Alan Heaberlin
Date sent: Mon, 19 Apr 2004
Subject: Poppy Festival - April 17 2004
In the days leading up to Lancaster's celebrated Poppy Festival the
weather forecasters around these parts kept saying rain on Saturday.
Well, since these guys are wrong most of the time it was with some
concern we left home to drive the 50 miles to Lancaster with the wipers
intermittently pushing drops off the windshield.
Entering the park where the Big Event was taking place we were met
by a fairly substantial crowd considering the low clouds and occasional
bands of showers blowing across the scene.
We hung around looking at the artsy-craftsy stuff some people
spend the year making to peddle at various festivals and flea markets.
Tole painting, lawn whirl-a-gigs, hand-made dolls; an assortment of
cutesy stuff that has no usefulness or appeal to anyone I can think of and
can't imagine anyone ever buys. There were lots of really good food
booths though with a wide assortment of goodies (but no beer).
Queenie and I walked over to the stage area to reconnoiter. Confederate
Railroad's crew was busily setting up their gear and getting ready for the
opening act. As the band started playing at 1:30, people trickled into the
area of about 200 seats and an adjacent tent facing the stage with seats
for probably another hundred or so.
They drew a respectable crowd and were entertaining with their shit-kicking
brand of country music. Before attaining fame and getting a Grammy for
"Trashy Women" they were known as the David Allen Coe Band and backed
up Johnny Paycheck before that. True journeymen and solid entertainers for sure.
The rain held off so far and things were looking good. As the Railroad was
finishing their set we saw a tall apparition looming out from behind the stage.
It was Dan himself! He walked around the area a bit as if looking for somebody
and returned to the backstage area a few minutes later.
After the Railroad finished it took about 45 minutes to break their equipment
and start setting up for Dan & Co. By 3:30 DHHL was pretty well set up and the
rain started. I hauled ass to the parking lot to get Queenie's raincoat and a couple
of bumbershoots and by the time I got back the band was in the middle of a
relatively unrewarding sound check. Wet cables and some degree of confusion
about what cord went to which mike and whose mike goes to what monitor.
After some concerted efforts on the part of the sound guys and what appeared to
be a complete change of all the audio cables they finally got some sound coming
out of the big speakers. As the band stood on the stage warming up the town
fathers gave a gloriously brief welcome to the crowd and introduced the
We were now sitting in a fairly steady downpour and anxious for things to get
started. The tent area 200 feet away had filled up with fans trying to stay dry but
about 20 of us diehard Hixters sat up front and got ready for the opening licks.
The band consisted of The Tall One, Dave Bell on guitar, Paul Smith on bass
and a fellow whose name was Chon on fiddle and mandolin. (Somehow I ended
up without pencil and paper to write these important details down.) Lickettes
Susan Rabin and Linda Grove were looking great and sounding even better.
Linda is a great addition to the band.
I managed to grab the set list and Dan's cheat sheets after they left the stage
so here is what the list revealed:
Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
Evening Breeze (Always a treat)
The Piano has been Drinking
Blues-Naughty Baby (Thatís what the list says)
Early in the Morning (One of my old favorites from the Harry Nillson songbook
and quite a surprise)
I Scare Myself
Exactly Like You
Song for My Father (Another new one on me but on a Boney James album!)
Hell I'd Go!
Peach Pickin' time in Georgia
I Feel Like Singing
(Milk Shakin' Momma, 4 or 5 Times and Buzzard were on the list but didn't make
the show probably because of the time spent getting the sound to work).
Dan was in fine voice and as cheerful as I've ever seen him. His onstage humor
was up to par and included his Dylan impersonations and an onstage visit from
Elvis' ghost. Dan complained about the cold a bit and was blowing on his hands
to stay warm from time to time.
We froze our butts off and got plenty wet but by the half-way point the rain had
stopped and the sun broke out though it was still cold and windy. Hixlister Don
from Bishop hung on in the rain but we didn't see anyone else we know from
the list. The rain was a bit distracting but the show was great and one I'm glad
we got to see! I hope I didn't forget any salient points, but there's my report!