Stompin 76 Stories and Memories From Fellow Stompers
David H. Irving III
A bunch of us traveled from Lexington, Va., only several hours down the road. I was 19 at the time and this was the first sizable concert I had attended. Like many others, I remember arriving late Thursday evening and only being able to get as close as several miles from the stage. We ended up camping in a cow pasture on the side of a hill. I had borrowed an old canvas cabin tent from a co-worker. Little did I know that after setting up the tent, that was the last time I would see it until Sunday. Friday became a blur rather quickly. However, I do remember hanging out by the main road in, on the edge of a creek, for quite a while.
This was the same location that the double-decker red London bus was parked with the gallon glass jar full of Quaaludes on the dash with a sign that, I believe, said Ludes 25 cents. Anyway the creek was looking rather inviting and upon a dare I decided to do a shallow dive. Needless to say, although rather successful, more like a belly flop, I soon felt the rocks on the creek bottom (4 inches deep) dragging down my chest. Good thing it was refreshing, as the cool water seemed to mask the pain of the bloody scratches that soon developed. What ever I was drinking and ingesting that day also numbed the pain. GOOD TIMES! I remember the Pagans had pretty much taken over the Port-a-John area, I believe the brand was Here’s Johnny, if my memory is correct. You had to walk through the Pagans to take a leak, past the big guy sporting the 3 1/2 foot tall, 25 pound adjustable crescent wrench. I think the rain began sometime Saturday.
I remember loosing one shoe, spraining an ankle. Although I was very drunk, I saw a Va. State Trooper car approaching and decided to use my remaining charm and pitiful condition to hitch a ride the remaining 2 miles to the stage area. Unbelievable to me, he said “sure, hop in”. As we traveled down the road I can’t forget the sympathetic looks from those walking along the road thinking I had been arrested. I believe Saturday night I found a dry spot to sleep under the stage along with many others. Great weekend. I wish I could remember more of the music, but like I said, pretty hazy that weekend.
I enjoyed reminiscing back on the super festival I will never forget. Googling the event tonight, I found stompin76.com.
We went in caravan, all of us musicians with tents and trucks. I was 16 and in Awe of Doc Watson, Bonnie and everyone famous and not famous. The pickin' jams at picnic table across the grounds was as talented as the ones on stage. Three that I traveled with are passed on now, Banjo, guitar and bass. I'll share the story with my 26 year old so he’ll understand the roots of my music passions. Doc Watson was mesmerizing.
Thank you! Kathy Georganas.
15 yrs old at the time. Traveled down from PA in a four vehicle caravan. Couldn't get any closer than a few miles from the music. Hiked to the music, when I came back my people moved camp. Didn't see them for 3 days. Run ins with Hells Angels, Moonshine vendors, young ladies of questionable morals and flash floods. What a BIG time for a teenager. Signed, Turtle.
From Hal, Aug 4, 2017
So 40 years later I just found out, a band played at the start I didn't even know of. I was not stoned, just running around putting our fires (figuratively) dealing with the Pagans and a missing security company.. Glen "Smiley" Martin wrote to me. . . "
I think ... think ... we were called "The Valley View Hog Roast Squirrel Gravy Band" ... I think. "
Well like I said Hal, if I hadn't seen the pic I wouldn’t have known I was even there. :-) Had to send in studio quality demo, stage diagram, etc. to get the gig.
I remember we were camped near the helicopter landing pad and after we arrived (don’t remember it being too difficult, but read later it was a huge mess, (Hal said - it was backed up to the interstate, HA HA HA!) I guess we got there early), anyway we setup camp and decided to walk around (troubadour-ing) playing some music. I remember being really thirsty and didn’t have water or beverages with me. I saw this person standing next to me with a mason jar full of, what I THOUGHT was water, he asked if I wanted a 'hit' ... I thought that was strange, a 'hit' of water? Of course being as thirsty as I was I took a HUGE drink and dang near passed out right there.
For some reason that is one of the only memories I have, coincidentally don't remember much after that drink for the whole time I was there.
Smiley got his bumper stickers 40 years later. Here's the pic of his TVVHRSG band! I am the guy in the middle with banjo, blue t-shirt, jeans.
I played at Stompin 76 in a band called Rainbow Special. I forget the details now, but the leader of the band went on to be Kinky Freedman's Guitar player. I went on to work at Opryland USA and with about a million other bands based out of Philadelphia. I remember we were right after Frank Wakefield, and shared a dressing trailer with Vassar Clements. I also was stuck for a while because I was storing my fiddle in John Hartford's trailer, and he was inside with the doors locked bonking some girl. I had to wait until they were finished before I could get my Fiddle back. He and Ibecame life long friends, having met just a few years before Stompin 76. I guess around 1972.
I remember Dave Bromberg's helicopter almost crashed. We were underneath! It wobbled wildly in the air over our heads in the high winds. Hartford told me later, in order to get out of there in the bad weather, he and Doug and Rodney Dillard hijacked a Winnebago and drove themselves out, since the helicopters were grounded Sunday.
I also remember a naked girl walking around with a biker guy carrying a huge truck wrench! Nobody even dared look at her! The Bikers had taken over. As we approached the stage to do our set, there was a line of bikers each holding out for us our choice of booze or pot or coke, or speed or even acid I think!
I may have some of the details mixed up, but that's how I remember things. A Great concert and weekend. Plus I got to play fiddle for 50,000 plus people at one time. Pretty amazing experience. Thanks for having us.
Thanks Ted The Fiddler
I promised you or someone a copy of the footage I shot on Super 8 in return for a helicopter ride out. I got the ride, I owe you a copy.
(This Super 8 footage is not used in this site yet. It is sketchy.)
A friend of mine and I opened Stompin 76 as "Baird and Keith." We were both 17-years-old that year.
Are there any items available for sale from the show? Also, was any of the concert recorded? I would love to buy a recording (or photos) of our performance.
I hope life has been good to you since that amazing weekend. I'm still pickin down in Orlando, FL.
All the best,
Tracy "Keith" King
I was there! Most likely the biggest party I ever attended. Some friends had arrived on Thurs. was able to drive in and set up camp as close as you could to the stage(better than 100 yds. away) I arrived on Fri. around noon and had to leave the car in a ditch and walk 1 hour in. I found my buddies.. somehow...and it was on from there. Most of what I can recall today involves consuming mass quantities of alcohol, smoking weed, lots of naked people in and near the New River and the creek that was close by Entertainment wise I recall Bonnie & John singing Angel from Montgomery...and that is about it. I was ready to leave Sunday.. went home and slept for 27 hours ...Looking back i am glad to have witnessed and participated...and thankful that events like that only come once in a lifetime....Later
I saw a program about outside concerts and it took me back the only outside three day fling I had ever went to. Stomp-in 76 was the first one I have ever attended in my life, I was 22 years old and didn’t know where life was going to take me. My second wife and I left Friday afternoon and got to the site after dark. We started in and went left, bad mistake. This was for four-wheel drives, I had a 63 Ford van and we were stuck. It wasn’t to bad, we ended up on a creek that led to the river. The only down fall was the long walk to the concert area and venders.
There were so many people and the Pagans (motorcycle gang) were showing there asses. We stayed away from them and there were so many people that the ice, water, and other things were far and few between. We traded two hot beers for one cold one, people were selling lots of dope and other home made thing. The music was great and most people were found in the same place the next morning, time were go or we thought they were. There were some people from ?? its where they had the keypone out break in the river and killed a lot of fish. They were stuck with us, so we made the best of the little camp site. Every morning hundreds of people came down for baths, that was a crazy time. The water was cold and things were smaller, if you know what I mean. We were pulled out on Sunday, when someone got hurt in the water. I think the dates were Friday-Sunday I'm not sure, that’s a long time ago.
My name is David Cruise, see how things seem to go in circles.
Looking for something unrelated, I stumbled onto your Stompin 76 website. What a treat after 30 years. I drove to Galax from Washington DC with my brother in a '62 rambler that broke down a half dozen times on the way. The last time was somewhere outside of Galax on Friday.
The roads were already almost impassable. We asked the mechanic how to get to the festival. He drew a little map of the back roads - a dirt road he said came out right at the festival site. After three or four hours of going 10 miles an hour on what seemed to be an old logging road, and quite sure that we were nowhere near the festival, possibly not even in Virginia, we came out on the backside of a gate (one of the gates?, the main gate? who knows.) Parked not more than fifty feet from the entrance- amazing - there must have been 50 or 75 thousand people there by thattime.
A couple of hours to find the rest of the DC contingency. I was greeted with "hey, you're alive, cool". Turns out someone named Tom Carter was in the medical tent after indulging in too much of something (quualudes, I seem to remember) and that they had announced over the loudspeaker that anyone who knew him should go to the tent right away because he may have to be flown out. I asked them if anybody went - "oh, uh, yea, we were gonna get around to that..." Hey, what are friends for...
A comical start to the best festival of the decade - and I went to most of them - Union Grove, Shade Gap, Short Gap, Aunt Minnie's, Gone Fishin', don't even remember half of them... I don't dare recount most of the stories in a public forum - best left for late night reminiscing
Anyway, thanks for a great festival and for a lot of good memories the web site brings back.
Best of luck with your current endeavors,
P.S. A buddy of mine still has the van he drove down there – replete with a half dozen Stompin bumper stickers on the back.
P.P.S. The Rambler never did start again - just left it there and
hitchhiked home. Do you still have it? Can I have it back?
Wanted to share a couple of my memories with you...
My buddy Nick and I drove our two vans down from Alexandria Va. Too bad he bought his wife. They women were just EVERYWHERE! We were active inner tubers at the time and we bought a bunch of tubes with us.
Saturday morning we got ready to do our tubing thing. There was a Winnebago next to us and this real honey of a girl from New Jersey. Janet was her name. She asked if she could come along...I said sure enough you can come along. We got to the river and she realized she didn't have a swimsuit or shorts. So she just stripped on down to her skivvies...She was gorgeous! Anyway, we tubed our way down to the stage and had a blast that day and night. She stayed in my van that night. If you know what I mean...
She left Sunday Morning. I hooked up with her a couple of times after that. We were from different worlds though...
Sunday, Budddy Nick and I were walking back from the concert and we picked up a bushel of corn and starting toting it back to camp. We came across 3 lovelies in their mini-truck. They felt sorry for us and gave us a ride back to our site. We ended up partying all night. I met the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. She was a guitar picker and just the most perfect thing you could imagine. She stayed in my van that night. I tried hooking up with her after that. She was from College Park, MD. She never returned my calls and finally her mama told me "Give it up boy. She ain't never gonna call you back". I wept openly and said farewell to the angel.
As long as I'm breathing I will never ever forget Stompin 76.
Thanks Hal for one of THE best times of my life.
Safety Harbor, FL
I came across your site trying to find info on Stompin 76 Great! I was there, seeing a flyer at a Grateful Dead concert in Hartford, Conn that year. So I hitchhiked down. I didn't remember anything about the festival until I saw the poster. Thanks. What a lot of great acts! It was the Woodstock of bluegrass. I didn't make Woodstock (though I tried to get there), but I made other festivals including Ozark music festival in 74, Stevens Point in Wisconsin in 70, Kickaboo Kreek in Hayworth ILL in 70 and a few pthers I can't remember. I do remember having a great time at Stompin. Thanks again.