A lot of us who are in working bands will cross our fingers everytime the phone rings, hoping that it could be another booking. My Name is Mab O’Connor and I am in a band called Yasgurs Farm. We are a “Hippie Rock” band and play lots of great tunes from the late 60’s to early 70’s.
Last summer the phone rang, the caller ID showed the name ABC News Chicago. I picked up the phone and a man introduced himself and asked me if our band would be interested in being included in a documentary on “Whats Keeping Rock And Roll Music Alive…” My heart was pounding, of course I said YES. He went on to explain they were looking for a local band, with memembers that still had day jobs, that still load and unload all their own gear, that does their own set up.
“Thats US!” I replied.
He then had a gentleman from ABC News in New York City call and interview me over the phone. Luckily we had a gig coming up in three days so things started to get set in place. A local producer called me to arrange a meeting place at the Mendota Fest gig we’d be playing. They wanted to be there in time to catch us unloading and setting up.
The producer brought along a sound engineer and camera man along with her. They actually arrived at the Mendota Fest just before we did. They were polite and made us feel at ease. The camera man followed us around and we actually felt like STARS. We had been instructed to bring pictures of all five of us from when we were growing up. They took our photos and attached them to a back drop with the idea of having music playing in the background while capturing out childhoods.
They followed us around as we set up all the equipment. They also attached a wireless microphone to myself and to our drummer.
The producer interviewed me and asked many questions, from “What I think is keeping Rock and Roll Music alive?” to “Why we go through all this when the pay never is equal to the amount of work and energy one puts into a gig?”
I teasingly excused myself to go to “my dressing room” (a porta-potty). The camera man loved the angle so I had to yell out to them when I was coming out of my dressing room so they could film that to. Once the setting up was complete, we gave the producer a copy of our set list and she asked if we could do certain songs in a certain order. That was no problem as we had plenty of time to change things around. They wanted to highlight on the version of Rocking in The Free Worldthat we do. It just seemed so fitting at the time.
So we started to play. As I was playing my bass, I turned to look at my husband who is our lead singer and rhythm guitar player and noticed the camera man was right next to him on stage filming his close up. When we began our second song I was tapping my feet while playing and I noticed the camera was filming my feet. They certainly did not miss a trick.
It was a wonderful time and a wonderful expierence. They were with us for over five hours. The week that this all took place, ABC was airing a lot of specials on Elvis. They wanted this documentary to be aired in conjunction with those. They told us they felt it was turning out great. The tape would be turned over the ABC in New York and would be aired on The Good Morning America Show, but they could not tell us when it would be aired. They said that the bad news was if “Breaking News” happened when it was scheduled to be shown, it could get bumped.
So everyday we all turned on the TV looking and hoping , and it never seemed to air. Then, on August 14th, 2002, my phone rang again and it was my mother, who lives in Ohio.. She was screaming with joy, telling me to hurry up and turn on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. They had a special called “Celebrating Elvis” and had oneminute of our documentary included with it. The editor of the Rolling Stones Magazine was interviewed in that segment, saying “Nowadays all it takes is some good rock and roll music” Then came our minute of fame! We made the World News Tonight. And even though it only aired ONE Minute , it was the most exciting minute our band has ever had.
They may still possibly air the documentary in its entirety one day. But even if they never do, it has made all this hard work and dedication to our band well worth it.