Back Porch Blues
In September of 1985 the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, and many other local police agencies, assisted the University of Illinois Police Department by helping provide crowd control and security at the very first Farm Aid benefit concert at Memorial Stadium. I worked the evening and night shift. Before our shift started there was a briefing where, among other things, individual duty posts were assigned. We came to the end of the briefing and all of the posts had been assigned, but I still had no assignment. I called this to the attention of the commanding officer. He had better things to do than dream up a duty post for me, so he pointed to a golf cart and told me to make myself available as a “rover” to assist wherever and whenever needed. I disappeared in the wink of an eye. If I had been a cartoon character there would have been a ricochet sound effect and a puff of smoke as I left the briefing room. By this time I had been a Deputy for 5 years and I knew a good deal when I heard one. This was Farm Aid – no problems were expected and none occurred. Essentially I had been given a back stage all access pass to the biggest concert event since Woodstock. I did not let the opportunity go to waste.
One of my fondest memories of the event is meeting “King of the Blues” B. B. King. I was checking (snooping around) the tent where the performers were being served snacks and meals. B. B. King walked in just as I was leaving, we had a brief “doorway dance” at the tent entrance. It was one of those awkward moments where you felt the need to say something but… what do you say? So I mentioned all of the available food and how good it smelled (if my memory serves me correctly, it was Tyson Foods). B. B. King invited me to sit with him and have something to eat. Me and B. B. King. It was not EXACTLY what I was supposed to be doing but… no way was I going to say no to that offer. So I had some light conversation and fried chicken with B. B. King.
I am telling you this now because B. B. King passed away yesterday. He was a gentleman and a great artist, and he leaves the world a better place because he was in it.
The name of the painting above is “Back Porch Blues”.
Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski
This is the musical lineup for the first Farm Aid: Alabama, Hoyt Axton, The Beach Boys, The Blasters, Bon Jovi, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels Band, John Denver, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Vince Gill, Arlo Guthrie, Sammy Hagar, Merle Haggard, Daryl Hall, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, George Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, B. B. King, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Huey Lewis, Loretta Lynn, John Mellencamp, Roger Miller, Joni Mitchell, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Charley Pride, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Kenny Rogers, Brian Setzer, Sissy Spacek, Tanya Tucker, Van Halen, Debra Winger, Neil Young, Dave Milsap, Joe Ely, Judy Rodman, X
“I can’t think of anyone I’ve mistreated. I’ve always thought that I am my brother’s keeper. And I believe there’s a ‘great spirit’ that takes care of all of us.”
“I believe all musical talent comes from God as a way to express beauty and human emotion.”