The earliest memorable “concert” experience that I can remember having was back in the mid 80’s, when my dad was president of the local Optimists chapter (which is a lot like the Rotary Club). They did all kinds of stuff around the community, and organized fundraisers to help disadvantaged kids in one way or another.
My dad played a big role in setting a lot of these events up. For one particular fundraiser, he proposed that a concert be planned; one that would draw a decent-sized crowd of donors for whatever youth project they were trying to raise money for at that time. From what I remember him telling me, the other members thought it was a good idea – but nobody could think of a band or performer to try and get. A week or two passed, and nobody had come up with much of anything. The problem was that they couldn’t afford to hire someone of “Civic Auditorium” caliber, but they didn’t want to get someone that nobody had never heard of either. Convincing any halfway decent act to hoof it all the way up to the Redding Elks Lodge would be no small feat in itself, and this was years before fading rock bands became commonplace at the Shasta District Fair.

Then, my dad had an idea. Being a longtime surf rock fan, he threw out the idea of having The Ventures come and play. He’d looked into it, and had found that they were still touring. It had, of course, been nearly two decades since they’d had a big hit, but they were definitely a group that would be well-known by the age group they had in mind for the fundraiser.
The other members went for the idea. Dad made a few phone calls, and within a week it was a done deal. The Ventures were coming to Redding.

A few weeks later, when the day for the show arrived, my dad was pretty stoked. I honestly wasn’t all that excited at the time, mainly due to my age and near-total lack of appreciation for the band. Plus, those were the days when Michael Jackson and Madonna ruled the airwaves… and anything that wasn’t in regular rotation on B94 or K60 was officially square.
Nevertheless, some of my dad’s enthusiasm for the show managed to rub off on me. He brought me along that evening, and I believe I was the only kid there. There was a pretty good turnout, and it was a pretty darn impressive show. The Ventures were awesome; probably just as good as they’d always been live – and, even as a 9 year old kid, I had a great time. The best part was that we got to hang out with the band after the show, and they were very nice guys. Apparently they were really into the idea of supporting youth-oriented causes, which was one big reason why they agreeed to come up to Redding.
I remember drummer Mel Taylor showing me a cool “pipeline” effect he did by drumming down the fretboard of Nokie Edwards’ guitar. I think he even let me try it, although my attempt sounded quite lame.

I left there fairly surprised that my dad liked such rockin’ music, and began to realize that it was possible for a parent to have decent musical tastes. I decided that he could be regarded as somewhat cool, even if he didn’t listen to Duran Duran or Men At Work. What’s better is that the evening ignited in me a love for that type of music that continues to this day. Years later, once I was in college, I really got into the Ventures and still listen to them. I only wish I’d had the same appreciation for them back in 1984.