Friday, July 25, 2008

Rory Gallagher Stunned Me When I was 13!

After haphazardly trying a few times in Google Earth, I finally found the location on Google Maps of what was probably the first real rock concert I ever attended. Back in September of 1972, I was 13 years old and just beginning to get serious about playing guitar. Thanks to an older brother, I was exposed to many bands I probably wouldn't have heard of at the time had I only paid attention to the usual radio fare. Along with guys like Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Mick Ronson—Rory Gallagher was a huge inspiration for my budding interest in guitar. We had a couple of his albums and were both pretty keen on how good he was, and how different, compared to some of the more well-known players of the time.

I had the great good fortune to see Rory Gallagher play in a tiny venue WAY out in the boondocks of central Pennsylvania. It was at a place called "The Lodge"; it was actually the lodge for a small-and-failing ski area. Local bands played there on the weekends; Harrisburg PA-native Dan Hartman played there at least a few times that I remember with his band The Legends.

The place was tiny—150 people pretty much packed the house. How they managed to get Rory Gallagher booked to play there will remain a mystery to me forever, I suppose, but it was an extraordinary event. Bands at The Lodge played at floor level, and there I was, a snot-nosed kid of 13, just starting to get serious about playing guitar, and one of my favorite inspirations was there blowin' the roof off the place. I stood about 5 feet away from him the whole time, through 2 hour-long sets and about another hour of encores. There was all the keg beer you could drink, they weren't checking IDs, and I was in heaven.Visit my arcane addition to Google Maps, and don't forget to click on the tiny little blue skier icon.


gerkinman said...

The Lodge was started by Ross Spangler. Ross was a Vietnam Veteran and a student at HACC.
I was one of his employees. I parked cars in the field and later ran the scack bar. I was also a student at HACC.
Ross leased the building and was the owner and proprieter of the Lodge. He booked all the entertainment and ran the show.

Patrick "Phos...." Martin said...

Thanks for that info, Gerkinman. I'm curious about how you found your way to this obscure post on this obscure blog? And I'd be interested in asking you a few more things about the Lodge back in those days...but you've left no way to reply back directly. My email address is available at the top of the right column of my pages if you're interested.

Thanks again for the comment.

Bob Kimmel said...

On your posting about the Rory Gallagher show at the Lodge you displayed a ticket or poster which also listed the name of the opening act, a band called Shanghai. I was the drummer in that band. We played at The Lodge many times. We did shows there with The Legends, a band called Fred, and many other well known local and regional acts from that time period. Ross Spangler who owned The Lodge was a good friend and he booked us frequently. In fact I think our friends The Legends and our band Shanghai probably played there more than any other acts. My name is Bob Kimmel and our singer (from Shanghai) Wally Smith e-mailed me with the link to this site - how he found it I have no idea. At my web site you can see some pictures of our old band and even hear some short music clips of us from back then. You can also see what I've been up to all these years since that time - still playing and I'm also a recording engineer and producer now too. There's a contact page at my site where you can find e-mail and phone number info if you would like to be in touch further.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

rob murtoff said...

my high school band - Clinton Sinn - also played there a few times. the Lodge was a pretty wild ride, as i recall. i seem to remember there being a stage . . . a pretty high one at that.

K Kramer said...

My name is karl kraner and I grew up on blair mt.I fished in the pond at the lodge.They had some great parties there, it shut down after someone got drunk and drown in the pond.I was 14 at the time.They didn't have a liquor license and that was the end of it.

Patrick "Phos...." Martin said...

Hello to everyone (the very few of you!) reading this.

I just hung up from a 40 minute phone conversation with Ross Spengler, chief commander of The Lodge. This is the first contact I'd ever had with him, and he proved to be friendly, forthcoming, and pragmatic in his circumspection about those days 40+ years ago.

He was kind enough to fill me in on many of the details about how he came to be in the music-promo business, how he found and started The Lodge, and what actually led to its eventual closing.

I'll save the longer story for another time, but I feel it's important to correct the misinformation posted by Karl Kramer, above, about why The Lodge closed down.

There may have been some local mythology about someone drowning in the pond at The Lodge, and maybe somebody did, at some point. But Ross insisted that nothing like that happened while he was running the place. The real reason The Lodge got closed down was because of pressure applied by the then-recently-hired Sherriff (or Chief of Police) Cassell. Prior to Cassell's hiring, things were pretty lawless in the wilds of outside-of-Dillsburg Northern York County, and Cassell made a point of busting people around The Lodge for anything he could think of, from traffic violations, to littering, to disorderly conduct, to underage drinking. It got to the point where nobody wanted to go to The Lodge out of fear of being busted, so Spengler's business dwindled down to the point where it was no longer profitable. Spengler saw the writing on the wall, and, as a savvy businessman, decided after about 3 years that continuing to run The Lodge was no longer a financially wise path to follow.

Bob Kimmel said...

One other quick correction Pat, Dan Hartman never played at The Lodge. By the time The Lodge opened Dan had long been in The Edgar Winter Group and never worked that room. The newer version of The Legends of course played The Lodge many times and in fact Dan visited The Lodge once when he was home on a vacation from touring with Edgar and came out to The Lodge to see my band Shanghai and The Legends play together on a bill there. I remember it distinctly because I had just recently got a new 6" deep Ludwig snare drum and Dan and I talked about how cool the deeper snare sound was.

: smintheus :: said...

So did you get further info about how in the world they managed to book Rory Gallagher there? I saw a reference to Dillsburg PA on a list of Rory's gigs and started looking around for the story. It may be the smallest and most remote venue he ever played.

Patrick "Phos...." Martin said...

I never got the full low-down on how Ross Spengler-the chief cook & bottle-washer—managed to get Rory to play his little lease-agreement party spot. I can only conjecture that he worked the connections he had begun to make—maybe through his association with Danny Hartman—and got Rory to play there between his other, bigger gigs in NYC, Philadelphia &/or Baltimore Washington DC. That gig was the defining moment in my young life that made me understand the power of =brilliant players, in small venues, doing what they love to do. Like a first buzz on any type of intoxicant, I still chase that feeling whenever I can.

: smintheus :: said...

Rory had played at the Harrisburg fair about 6 weeks earlier, so maybe Spengler talked to him there? He was touring the US from Aug. to Nov. of '72.

Patrick "Phos...." Martin said...

Can I assume you're referencing the timeline on the RoryOn site?
I see listed there the gig at The Harrisburg Farm Show Arena on 17 August 1972, and that may very well have been where Ross Spengler connected with Rory. He had been a student at Harrisburg Area Community College (a|k|a "HACC" locally) on the GI Bill after he got out of Viet Nam, and HACC is barely farther than a stone's throw from the Farm Show Arena.

Truth be told, I'm a little saddened that this blog entry hasn't been linked to on the RoryOn site; for people who are hard-core fans of any band, it's exactly the type of fine-detail thing I'd think they'd champ at the bit to know about.

Thanks for checking in, and for your interaction. I mostly wrote this so I wouldn't forget it, and to spark the memories of some of the other, local friends, who were there that night.

RPS said...

Thanks for this. I was just watching Rory and band on YouTube and thinking back on that show. Wish he was still around. (And you could see him for $4.)

I have often told people that the show took place at Ski Roundtop, and now stand corrected.

p.s. As somebody who has wandered around writing about music since those days – through most of the 1970s for the then-weekly Harrisburg Independent Press – I’ve only ever seen one well-known group in a less prominent location. A few years after seeing Rory in Dillsburg, I covered what I think was the first tour by the Pat Metheny Group. Again – who knows why? – their gig took place in the back of a sub shop in Hummelstown.

Unknown said...

As one of the lucky few who saw this show i was pleased to find this story. I will never forget seeing this band and hearing that strat sing.