Joseph L. Rich has greeted dozens of musical acts over the years as part of the Disabled Persons Action Organizations annual concert series. He was given the names of some of the acts, and asked his thoughts.
This singer/songwriter was the first musical act Mr. Rich brought to the north country for a benefit concert. He performed twice in Watertown in the 1970s.
Mr. Chapin died in a 1981 car crash.
He was a consummate writer. Every time I turned around he was writing something. But still, he was very personable. He signed his albums and signed autographs for everyone.
His song, A Better Place to Be, about a midnight watchman at Millers Tool and Die and a rotund waitress he meets in an early morning barroom, is about Watertown.
As a child, Mr. Bennett had lived for a time in the St. Lawrence County hamlet of Pyrites with his uncle Dominick Benedetto. Mr. Rich picked Mr. Bennett up at the Syracuse airport and told him that some of his north country relatives were eager to see him.
He was so gracious. On the way in, he stopped at the Ramada, and Sandy Spatola (Ramada Inns manager) had a group of friends and he spent time with them.
At the concert, he met some of the Benedettos.
An aunt came down and smothered (hugged) him, Mr. Rich said. She was a big woman.
Even at the reception after the show, he met everybody and took the time to get hugged by everybody. He was just a real gentleman and did a tremendous show.
Mr. Bennett later went to Giovannis Restaurant on LeRay Street on his own.
He used to sketch pictures. He drew one of a waitress and gave it to her, Mr. Rich said.
He and June Carter were terrific. They had a wonderful time. He even did a commercial for the DPAO. But I dont know where it is.
He spent time with soldiers on his own. So did Jennifer Nettles (lead vocalist for Sugarland).
They just wanted to spend time with the soldiers at Fort Drum, especially the Wounded Warriors. Other entertainers were not as ready to do that.
Mr. Rich preceded his recollection of the Danish pianist, comedian and conductor with a comment: I was so skinny back then!
On the day of the show, he purposely bumps into the microphone stand on stage and says, Excuse me, Mr. Rich!
They couldnt get into their bus. It was a great big thing. I saw him and his wife going through a window in the back. She was the last one I saw. She had a dress on or something, and he was trying to get her through.
He borrowed my wifes car. She had a little sports car. He says, Can I take it for a ride? I said, Sure.
Thats when he was charging $50,000. Now, you cant get him for anything less than $400,000. He took the car for a spin and when he came back I was glad to see it was in one piece. He had a great time here.
Shes the only one who did a free show for us.
In 1986, the Coal Miners Daughter waived her usual performance fee of $40,000 for a concert at Bonnie Castle at Collins Landing.
She was booked a total of five times by the DPAO for concerts, with her last appearance in 2003.
We had him at Westcotts Beach. It was thunder and lightning. I said, Charlie, get off the stage! There was a thousand people there. And hes up there playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia. And lightning was in the background. God, it was scary. But he did a great show.
He said, You know Joe, this is not a total comedy show. I had known that. He said he took playing the banjo very seriously. But he was still funny and did a nice show. People enjoyed it. I still get comments.
When he flew in here, he told the pilot to do these wing waves. I thought, What the hell is he doing? They land and he says, What do you give me? Up to 10.
I said, You mean with the wings? Mr. Cosby told him yes. Mr. Rich gave him about a 5.
He said, The next time, well come in upside down. Hows that!?