On This Date in History

On this date in history, 9/2/1979, Indianapolis radio station WFBQ staged a concert they dubbed “Rockin’ Picnic Jam” at an outdoor park in the downtown area.

The show featured local favorites Roadmaster, The Pat Travers Band, and Heirborne. I believe it was originally planned to become an annual event, but to the best of my knowledge, this was the only one that happened.

Heirborne started the festivities with a good set, but nothing that sticks out in my mind all these years later. Pat Travers followed with an amazing display blues rock power. Travers and the other Pat (Pat Thrall, co-lead guitar) blazed on guitars, while Mars Cowling (bass) and the incredible Tommy Aldridge (drums) held down the bedrock bottom end.

Travers had a big live album out at the time, and everyone there knew the call and response vocal parts to his hit version of “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights). The Pat Travers Band were so tight and powerful that they would have likely headlined this show anywhere else, but Indianapolis was the domain of the mighty Roadmaster, and they were truly beloved by their faithful following. As a matter of fact, it has always amazed me that Roadmaster never made it to the big time. They were every bit as talented as Foreigner, Boston, Styx, Kansas, REO Speedwagon, and any other band that were huge at that time. Their songs were well written, with great chorus hooks, and incredible vocals courtesy of Steve McNally. Rick Benick was a smokin’ lead guitarist, and Michael Read could rip on the keyboards both as a soloist and creating mansions of sound to provide the canvas to hang those catchy melodies on…they had it all. One thing I remember with fondness from this concert was the sound of the entire crowd chanting “Disco Sucks” like our lives depended on it. Ah…the power of rock…gotta love it!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

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