The Night We Closed Down A Town

When my friend Jody Fitzgibbon interviewed me for her blog (see she asked for a funny story. Thought you all might enjoy it too.  Some years back I played in a gospel bluegrass band, Mark Allen and Gospel Train (Mark, Mitch Chalos, Larry Dickerson, Joe Milner, and me). One evening at a town festival in southeastern Illinois, we were setting up on the flatbed of a semi truck (a typical stage in small towns, cool, fun, and it works). We carried in the sound system, got everything set up, cables run, and instruments tuned. All along both sides of the street were people and festival food stands (elephant ears; lemon shakeup; corndogs; burgers, etc.).  You know, all that healthy stuff.  We also had a portable light bar, for outdoor events, so the lights (red, yellow, blue, green) would make us look natural, rather than washed out as happens with a white flood light. Just as darkness fell, we took the stage, paused for the first song, and on the announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mark Allen and Gospel Train” it was my job to step on a footswitch to turn on the light bar. When I did, the entire town went black as night, and our sound system went silent!  The food stands went black, the street lights went out, the courthouse went dark, everything!  We had shut down the town! Thankfully, a representative from the local power cooperative was in attendance, put on his pitons, and climbed the pole faster than a squirrel, with a fuse as big as my forearm. He got the electricity and the lights back up and running in less than 5 minutes, but it was an unexpected surprise for everybody!  An unforgettable evening for all…

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