The Stage:

Bill Cosby on stage in 1978

Bill Cosby on stage in 1978

A small town has its benefits when you’re working the streets as a photographer.There are few folks that don’t know you and you have photographed at least one member of their family.

It was no two songs and you’re out like it is now, back then.I had the run of the wings and the front of the stage.

The town had a new multi-million dollar civic auditorium that sits on the banks of the Sacramento River and a short flight or three hour bus ride from Reno.It was a perfect combination for acts that wanted to make some quick money for a few shows in an entertainment starved community.

It was a given that anything that wore a cowboy hat and boots was going to be a hit…hell anything was a hit.It was this or the “hot-saw” competition in Dunsmuir.

I worked the night shift and had an opportunity to photograph them all.

The two Charlie’s…Pride and Daniels and then there was Jan and Dean (their first concert after the accident); Jimmy Buffet (fresh from injury from a softball game) who played the show in a cast sitting on an old chair in the middle of the large stage; Kenny Logins (not friendly as I remember); Vincent Price and Hal Holbrook who were both doing one-man shows of Mark Twain (Holbrook, one of the gentlemen of this world who I photographed as he applied make-up and talked of his preference for the stage.)

A blessing was spending and afternoon with Scatman Scruthers who was in town playing a local golf tournament and ended up stranded at the course with no ride back to his hotel.I apologized for the shape of my mustard colored Datsun as we talked of music. I had only seen him perform on television.In the early days you had the Hollywood Palace and variety shows where you could watch the greats.

I wanted to know about Armstrong who had died years earlier in 1971. As a kid I loved Louis Armstrong.I’ll leave it to a shrink to figure out why a kid from a small town in Oregon would grab a handkerchief and try to blow riffs like “Satchmo” without the trumpet?Catman could not have been more gracious with his time and his fruit basket.

Bill Cosby pulled his chair to the edge of the stage so he could be closer to the audience as he was doing his monologue, before I knew it we were engaged in a friendly conversation with hundreds of our best friends watching on.He was a true professional who knew how to work around a young photographer who was getting a bit too close.

I had just taken a drag on my cigarette sitting on the stage-door steps.You could hear the rapids of the river just a few hundred feet away, but too dark to see, when the tour bus pulled up.

She was the second one off the bus in blue jeans, flannel shirt and a kerchief covering her head.No big hair and her other parts didn’t seem as big as on TV either.Beautiful slight features and a soft voice…god what a smile…everything that those dreams are made of.

She asked if I mind her sitting down and she asked questions of what the area was like as she had seen some of it through the bus window.I told her of Mount Shasta and my hidden jewel Lassen Park.She loved the fact that you could hear the river near and said it reminded her of areas she where she grew up.

Minutes seemed like hours and she all too soon excused herself to get ready for the show…goodbye Ms. Parton.

Never a complaint about working in a small town!

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About oneheartonemind

Photojournalist,Picture Editor and Martial Artist View all posts by oneheartonemind

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