My time at the Indiana State Fair this evening was spent at the feel-good Happy Together Tour on the Free Stage in front of the 4-H Buildings.
This seems like a good time to continue our Indiana 4-H history lesson. We covered the inception into the 1920s here
. In spite of the difficulties of the 1930s, 4-H flourished. They focused on leadership, holding staff trainings in evry county. By the end of the decade almost 3000 women and men served as club leaders. Junior leaders numbered almost 3,800.
The club members did their part for the Food for Freedom war effort. They grew Victory Gardens, gave demonstrations on food preparation and preservation. Club members also gave demonstrations on sewing and how to use substitute fabrics, and by collecting scrap metal and other needed products.
By 1940 club enrollment numbered 32,499 girls and 20,876 boys.
One of the great disappointments of that era was the cancellation of the State Fair from 1942 - 1945 due to the war. That's enough history for today...more in upcoming days.
On to the music! I'll admit that before I saw the Happy Together Tour the first time I did some internal eye-rolling. I'm just a tick too young to have listened to much of the music. And I was never one of the kids that was cool enough to be listening to the popular music.
The Happy Together Tour is great fun. First of all, I didn't realize that I knew the words to most of the songs that were performed. It helps that all of the musicians play their hits.
The show is hosted by the Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (Flo and Eddie). Did you know that they lived in Indianapolis for a year (1979-80ish) when they produced Roadmaster's fourth album, Fortress
? They added some fun banter about the wild days of Broad Ripple.
Spencer Davis opened the show - his hits include, "I'm A Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'"
Next up were the Cowsills; Susan and brothers Paul and Bob. I first heard Susan perform at Birdy's as part of the most-excellent band, Continental Drifters
. Susan then formed her own band with two Indianapolis musicians, Aaron Stroup and Tad Armstrong. Here's a bit of Nora/NUVO trivia - my first-ever piece for NUVO was about Susan.
Susan, Paul, and Bob harmonize beautifully - it is a thrill to hear them sing together. They sang several of their hits, including “Hair,” "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things (I love the flower girl)" and "Indian Lake."
Gary Puckett sang the hits he had with his band the Union Gap. His versions of “Young Girl” and “Lady Willpower” still sounded exactly like I remember from the AM radio.
Mark Lindsay, the lead singer of the band Paul Revere and the Raiders was next. Now in his seventies, his energy and enthusiasm on stage was amaz ing. And he made me blush. As I was taking photographs, he swaggered over, looked me in the eyes and and did a little kick thing, which would have a been a great photo had I not been swooning. He sang “Kicks” and “Indian Reservation” to great crowd appreciation.
Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night singer), had the crowd singing along to his well-known hits; ”One,” “Eli’s Coming” and the giant smash, “Joy to the World.” I now have the phrase "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" running through my brain.
The final set came from the Turtles, in all of their silly glory, bringing giggles from the audience. Mark Volman dressed in a fur coat and a wig, aided by a fan (electric, not one of the hundreds in seats) the sang to Howard Kaylan.
There was a serious moment when Howard explained to the audience how Mark is a recent cancer survivor and admonished the rest of us to not put off going to the doctor. Howard did not explain why he was sitting in a chair the whole time, but I did see a cast on his right leg.
They ran through a number of their hit songs, ending, of course, with “Happy Together”. They even touched on “Peaches en Regalia,” the Frank Zappa instrumental (via their association with Zappa as part of their stint with the Mothers of Invention in the early Seventies).
The show ended with the Turtles inviting all the other performers back on stage and sang an abbreviated version of one of their hits with the help of all the other singers, musicians, and especially the audience.
I was blown away by the generosity of the Cowsill siblings. They were the only performers to come and greet the fans after the show and took time for conversations, photographs, and autographs making each of us feel special.
My picks for Thursday, August 11
10:00, 2:00, 4:00 Machinery In Action [Pioneer Village]
11:00 State Fairgrounds Architectural Trolley Tour [leaves from the front of the DNR Building]
6:30 Indiana State Fair Parade [Main Street]
7:30 The Fray [Free Stage]
Nora Spitznogle can still recite the 4-H pledge by heart and is an unabashed Indiana State Fair geek. She hasn't missed a single day of the Fair in over a decade and the stack of ribbons from entering baking competitions and ugly lamp contests in the Open Show are among her prized possessions.