Back in the Summer of 1989, Connecticut-based Flash Groups booked me to support Roy Clark at The Connecticut Rose Arts Festival in Norwich, Connecticut.
The performance stage was set up in the middle of Chelsea Parade Park and it was certainly a beautiful day. I had a great set and the audience was a lot of fun, but it truly became electric when Roy Clark took the stage.
Now, some musicians pretend that they have a great rapport with their band just for the show, so they actually have some pre-written banter that they exchange during every performance, intending to endear themselves to the crowd. But it’s all a show.
But not with Roy Clark and his band. Backstage and onstage, their camaraderie was more than evident. They were always having a party and everyone around them was invited.
Anyone who had the good fortune to witness what happens when great friends – musicians – entertainers do what they love was caught up in it with them and instantly became part of their joy.
I was no exception. When Roy’s last song ended, he exited the stage and whisked by me on his way to his dressing room. I caught his eye and yelled “Holy Shit.”
Roy stopped and turned around with a big grin and yelled “Yah!” in agreement. He motioned for me to follow him to his dressing room; a small makeshift tent behind the main stage.
Right when we entered, Roy cracked open a couple of beers and talked to me as if I had been a member of his band for years. The day before, he had just taped “Hee Haw” on the West Coast and then flew straight out for the festival. He said he was really tired and jet lagged, but no one could tell, including me.
But what I love the most is how much of a true professional Roy Clark really was. He was never too busy to show his appreciation to anyone around him, especially musicians and performers, and he always wore an infectious smile.
I am convinced that anyone who really knows Roy Clark – that in the moment when they think of him or hear his name, they picture his smiling face.
That’s a nice way to be remembered.