It was probably the chairs that grabbed everyone’s attention at first. There were rows of them, all lined up in front of the stage at the Jackpot. We’ve seen mini-mosh pits, dancers, drag queens, and more on the floor in front of the stage. But we’ve never seen chairs.
The comfortable seating was brought out because of the age of the mature audience in attendance that night. They all came to celebrate 40 years (40 YEARS!) of a beloved folk song written by a Lawrence musician. “Send Me To Glory In A Glad Bag” was written by Steve Mason, of the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band, in the late 70’s. Since then, it’s been performed, recorded, and reworked all across the station. Mason says the song even received airplay in New Zealand.
John Biggs was the musician who really got the song’s national attention kick-started (his version was well-loved on the Dr. Demento show). Naturally, he made an appearance and sang one of the first verses. With oversized lyric sheets sprawled before them, the band crammed everyone who’s ever played a part in the song’s creation onto the stage, all taking turns with different verses and changing keys. Mason’s children even made an appearance and sassed him to the loud delight of the audience (about 7:50 in).
There were moments that got wild rounds of laughter (Matt Kirby’s “Danny Boy” interpretation of the song tickled the audience quite a bit), but there were also fairly endearing moments. I mean, the song’s been around for four decades. So this event served as a sort of reunion for many of these musicians. They ended the song with everyone in full, resounding harmony. It was beautiful.
Because they had so many guest musicians, the song ran for more than ten minutes. You can watch it below:
Words by Fally Afani, photos by Fally Afani and Tony Ridder